What I Did Last Summer (In Picture-Perfect Weather)
I can remember in elementary school, starting off the new year with the task of writing an essay: “What I Did Last Summer.” Hopefully we would have had something interesting to report, but I doubt the teacher cared really — she (or he) just wanted to encourage our creative writing abilities. (This is not done in French schools, I can assure you.)
I always thought it was boring to read someone else’s rendition of their summer vacation and have vowed never to impose such drivel on you, my readers, but here I am at the end of my summer vacation wanting to do just that: bore you with the details. The thing is that vacationing in France (or living here, for that matters) is everything, but boring. There is simply no end to the pleasurable things one can do and see in this adopted country of ours. So I apologize now for contributing to a journal titled, “What I Did Last Summer,” and you having to put up with it.
Up untill last weekend, you’ve gotten the low-down on a real vacation week spent in Sardinia on the beaches (you noticed that you didn’t receive even one of my Nouvellettres®?) and the weeks before spent in Nice half working/half playing, but having a helluva great time enjoying all Nice has to offer. This is an attestation that the aqua color and translucent nature of the water in the Baie des Anges just gets more beautiful with each passing float (you will often find me in the water floating on my “noodle” letting the waves carry me back to shore).
Nice and Sardinia weren’t enough. This past week, a small group of us (Americans in France) drove a mere two hours from Nice to near Aix-en-Provence, another part of Southern France that is as beautiful as it gets. That evening, on the well-furnished and appointed terrace of a village house in the Luberon, pork ribs were cooked “sous-vide,” then charcoal-grilled with special brought-from-the-States hot sauce at my friend’s (Barb Westfield), and were served to a group of international friends who live in the vicinity.
I was happy to be one of them for the second year in a row partaking of her delicious dish. Among the group was the chef and owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Ansouis, La Closerie. He was duly impressed by the tasty American morsels and while the rosé wine was free flowing, we joked that he and Barb should do a pop-up ribs truck in the tiny Provençal village for the locals and tourists to get a taste! (I can just see it now!)
The following morning we got out early to drive through the Luberon with the goal to land in Roussillon for the weekly open-air market which was taking place there — not a very large one, but a formidable one characteristic of the region. Roussillon is noted for its large ochre deposits, affording colorful façades of their houses in shades that vary from light yellow to dark red set off by brightly colored shutters and doors. It stands out from the other villages in the region for this very reason and is worth a special detour.
On route out of town, we drove past a myriad of Luberon vllages, such as Ménerbes (made famous by author Peter Mayle of “A Year in Provence”), Gourdes and Bonnieux, to lunch late at Le Petit Café in the ancient village of Oppède-le-Vieux. This is one of the Luberon’s best little bistrots and most charming spots. If you have a Provençal bucket list, then this should be on it. (Small aside: Mr. Mayle is a regular diner at La Closerie!)
That afternoon we made a special trip to the Château La Coste “a vineyard where wine, art and architecture live in harmony.” (Do not confuse this with the Château de Lacoste (where the Marquis de Sade lived.) This is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, so be sure to put it on your bucket list, allow lots of time and wear your most comfortable shoes. La Coste is not your average winery. Artists and architects were invited to visit the “Domaine,” and were encouraged to choose a place in the landscape that “spoke directly to them.” They were given the freedom to create a work that would live in the spot they chose. You then have the opportunity to walk through the immense sculpture garden on the grounds to discover the installations, through the wooded hilltops and valleys, olive groves and vineyards, and take in some of the world’s greatest works of art. Then, like we did, dine in one of their five restaurants! (See this video just to get a brief idea of what you’ve been missing!)
Tomorrow, I am headed back to Paris after having spent four weeks in Nice and one week in Sardinia. Today is the day to pack it all up and prepare for the journey. I over-packed for the stay, as one does the first time without knowing what might be of use or not, and wore only a quarter of what I had brought. I imagined five weeks to feel like such a long time to be away, but now that the time is up, it seems like it all happened in the blink of an eye.
Fortunately SNCF has a solution for travelers such as myself, who have too much baggage and not enough good sense. They will ship your excess baggage for as little as 38€, pick it up “chez vous” and deliver it “chez vous.” See the SNFC site (in French) for more information. So, in the morning before my afternoon train, they will come pick up my biggest suitcase and deliver it to me the next morning in Paris. Meanwhile, I’ll go back with as little baggage as possible making the trip a whole lot more pleasant. Thank you SNCF!
All the while I have been in the south, with picture-perfect weather, I’ve had reports that Paris weather has been just as one would expect: Paris weather — cool, gray, damp. Earlier this week I received an email from someone who wrote that she was looking for a great quote about Paris because she wanted to get an engraved key ring for her husband and found a quote of mine on the list. The quote was sandwiched between one by James Joyce and another by Ernest Hemingway:
There is an atmosphere of spiritual effort here. No other city is quite like it. I wake early, often at 5 o’clock, and start writing at once. -James Joyce
It’s Paris. You don’t come here for the weather. -Adrian Leeds
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. -Ernest Hemingway
Janet Hulstrand, of Writing from the Heart fame, writer, editor, journalist, teacher, etc., etc., etc., reminded me that she’s the perpetrator of the quote, having Tweeted it and otherwise put it out in the universe in her blog, so I have her to thank for the quote going viral. It’s now on a myriad of sites and became an infographic a few years ago.
Janet wrote: “You were preparing to go out in the rain, and you were talking about how silly people are for complaining about rain in Paris, and that is what you said! And naturally, the statement was accompanied with one of your priceless expressions!?”
Meanwhile, Orbitz.com agrees with me about Nice having picture-perfect weather. In a January 2015 article, titled “8 places with picture-perfect weather,” Nice is one of them!
So long picture-perfect Nice. Hello Gray Paris in all your beautiful glory. My umbrella is back in my purse (after having been tucked away in the drawer for five weeks now).
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(by Michael Honegger)
P.S. For an upcoming House Hunters International episode, we are seeking comparable properties in which to film:
* house or villa in countryside or village, but with privacy
* located in the Languedoc-Roussillon, near the Parc naturel régional du Haut Languedoc or somewhere between the towns of Montpellier, Béziers, Narbonne, Toulouse, Albi and Millau
* with no less than 3 bedrooms, preferably 5 or 6 or more, accompanied by an equal number of bathrooms
* 150m2 or more
* with a pool, if possible
* at a value between 190,000€ and 300,000€
If you know of any property that fits this general description and is willing to let us spend about four hours inside with a small crew and light equipment, let me know asap!: [email protected]?subject=House_in_Languedoc_for_HHI
Your house could be featured on national TV!! And wouldn’t that be fun?!