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From Paris To Provence And Back


June 24, 2002


The TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) is a smooth two hours from Paris
(Gare de Lyon) to Aix-en-Provence, where I met up with the "Journey
Through France" tour attendees. The group had toured Paris for two days
then gone on to Provence to continue their quest for the perfect haven
in France to retire, own property or simply vacation.

The taxi pulled up to the circular drive of Le Château de la Pioline, a
four-star 16th-century-restored-castle-turned-luxury-hotel just outside
Aix where I found the group in very good spirits. No wonder!–The
enormous rooms house king size beds, elegant furnishings, lavish baths,
and have beautiful views of the sumptuous gardens. But the rooms aren’t
as expensive as you might think, especially compared with Paris
accommodations (where you’ll pay the same price for one-fourth the

Really, it’s no surprise why so many Parisians own homes in Provence,
or why so many Brits and Americans are setting down new roots here.
With the TGV so fast and comfortable, traveling to and from the south
is a breeze.

Here I am, for example, back at my desk in Paris early on a Monday
morning after a long weekend in the land of lavender, sunflowers and
rosé wine. It wouldn’t be difficult to do this every weekend, to take
advantage of the best of both worlds. And Provence is a very different
world from the fast pace and gray stone of Paris…a world definitely
worth getting to know.

A la prochaine fois…

P.S. Some recommendations if you’re ever in Provence: Eat at Restaurant
David; Place de la Poste, 84220 Roussillon; tel. 04 90 05 60 13…visit
Domaines Mousset (open year-round for visits and tastings);; tel. 04 90 83 50 05…see Portraits de Chine; ;tel. 04 90 54 38 65.

For more about the Provence trip, see my notes below.

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Parler Paris /parlerparis/
Written and Edited by Adrian Leeds

Published by International Living
mailto:[email protected]

Issue Number 44, June 24, 2002

In this issue:

*** Where Albert Camus is Buried
*** "I’m Bringing Lace From Belgium" and Other Things to Say to Balzac
*** Avignon’s Towers of the Palais des Papes
*** Hot Dogs and Hot Conversation
*** Summertime is Party Time in Paris
*** "The Third Most Visited Site in France"
*** Take the Black Paris Tours

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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Fine wine…excellent French cuisine…beautiful countryside…fields
of lavender and sunflowers in every direction…ancient stone
farmhouses…plus the world’s most beautiful and exciting city…

It’s easy to consider moving here–an apartment in Paris…a farmhouse
in Provence…a chateau in the Loire Valley are all more affordable
than you could imagine.

If you’re thinking about setting up a new life in France…if you’re
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"I had a dream last night–I found a 20-square-meter apartment in the
middle of Aix for $11,000. I’m going back to that dream tonight and

Larry M., Journey Through France Tour

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Surrounded by terra-cotta walls and flowering vines at Antoine Côté
Cour, (19, cour Mirabeau, 13100 Aix-en-Provence; tel. we
dined on fresh seafood, wild mushrooms, and pastas, accompanied by a
rosé Provençal wine, the same pale peach color as the walls and
coincidentally, our waiter’s shirt! What a healthy glow we all achieved
in this setting.

In Lourmarin (where Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus is buried) we
leisurely shopped at the weekly open-air market, where we were tempted
by goodies such as olive oil, fragrant soaps, printed Provençal
fabrics, and cer

amics (including a cleverly rough-hewn plate for
grating fresh garlic). Should you want to stay overnight in this
charming town, the
re is a lovely and inexpensive "chambre d’hôte"
called "La Cordière" run by Françoise Herry (tel. 04 90 68 03 32.) Be
sure to tell Madame Herry we sent you.

Climbing up to the once-very-wealthy village of Bonnieux, the bus
barely skirted the tight curves in the road and those of us seated up
front prayed that nothing would be headed our way from the opposite
direction. It seemed as if there were more steps up to the "Vieille
Eglise" in Bonnieux than to the top of the Eiffel Tower (actually only
86), but we didn’t complain once we saw the magnificent views of the
Monts du Vaucluse 425 meters above sea level, and the villages of
Gordes and Roussillon.

With the ochre cliffs in perfect view through the large plate-glass
windows of Restaurant David in Roussillon, we relaxed over "Merrine de
rouget," "Pintade aux cerises d’Apt" and "Coupe Créole." Christine and
her crew of "serveuses" were particularly friendly with their lyrical
Provençal accents, pronouncing every letter much more like Italian than

Pascal, our driver, stopped the bus on a curve before entering the
perched village of Gordes, so that we could admire the view of the
village, the igloo-shaped mortar-less "bories" (ancient tool sheds) and
the stacked stone design particular to this village and its neighbors.
Gordes is of the Gallo-Roman era and artists such as Marc Chagall and
Victor Vasarely have lived and painted there.

The heat mounting (temperatures over 100 degrees), we made a
perfectly-timed stop was at La Fontaine de Vaucluse, where we dipped
our feet in the freezing clear water of the Sorgue river. Miraculously
the river begins here, with water gushing from directly out of the


by Lisa Pasold, My Mercredi

This strut begins at La Muette metro. This was once the village of
Passy; it was only incorporated into Paris in 1860. Walk east on rue de
Passy until the former village square, where there’s a fine covered
market and the traditional market street, rue de l’Annonciation.
Annonciation takes its name from the Church of Passy, which was
originally built in 1666. Passy itself only came into existence
officially as a village in 1661, when it separated from the village of
Auteuil. The area became known for its mixture of grand mansions, with
splendid aristocratic parties, and small village atmosphere. In 1840,
the great French writer Honoré Balzac moved in at the bottom of this
street. Turn right on rue Raynouard, and you’ll find an elegant
entrance at #47. This leads to a flight of steps into the garden. This
cottage is actually a three-story house, but the garden is at the third
floor because of the hill!

Balzac moved into a 5-room garden apartment here during a turbulent
period in his life. He was hiding from creditors and actually rented
the house for 7 years under an assumed name, Monsieur de Breugnol. He
would only open the front door to people who knew one of his secret
codes, which were sentences such as "La saison des prunes est arrivée"
(The plum season has arrived) and "Japporte des dentelles de Belgique"
(I’m bringing lace from Belgium)! If the person at the door was
persistent, Balzac simply slipped away through the back door, which
leads to the charming rue Berton. If you walk down the steps at 55 rue
Raynouard, you can walk down Berton and see Balzac’s escape door. The
tiny street allows you to imagine the small village atmosphere that the
writer enjoyed.

Balzac completed some of his greatest works here, including La Comédie
Humaine. The small museum has very few of his things, though touchingly
his study contains his armchair and the worn small wooden table where
he wrote his masterpieces. The study has a small door leading into the
garden, which he loved. He occasionally chose flowers from the garden
to send to his beloved, a married Polish countess, Mme Eve Hanska. (Eve
finally married Balzac at the end of his life, after 18 impassioned
years of letter-writing). Balzac was an obsessive writer; he would
start work at midnight, write until 8 a.m., have breakfast, work until
5 p.m., have dinner, go to sleep, and get up again at midnight to start
all over again. Not surprisingly, he was a self-confessed coffee
addict, and the museum has preserved his favorite coffee pot. In honor
of his tastes, you might want to retrace your steps back up to rue de
l’Annonciation, to a wonderful coffee roasting shop…

For more Paris tours, visit

You can read more from My Mercredi here:

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In Avignon, we checked int
o the elegant Hôtel d’Europe
(, an 18th-century building, furnished
with antiques, suites with large terraces and magnificent views of the
Palais des Papes. La Fête de la Musique captured Avignon that evening,
as it did all over France…music at every turn, crowds moving down the
streets, dining in open-air cafés and merriment all around. At sundown
of the longest day of the year, the color of the sky in Avignon was a
rich, royal blue, the towers of the Palais des Papes lit brightly
against them.

Anne Menuhin took us on a walking tour of Avignon the next morning,
before the intense heat set in, concentrating on the Place de
l’Horloge, Place du Palais, Palais des Papes, the Rocher des Doms and
the views of the Rhone rushing past the Pont d’Avignon we all know from
the children’s song (Sous le pont d’Avignon…l’en y danse, l’en y

At Château Neuf-du-Pape, just a few minutes from Avignon by bus, we
toured the "vigneron" Domaines Mousset, tasted rosé and red wines with
olives from the region. This area of France is particularly known for
its fine river rocks that cover the earth, protecting the vines from
dehydration and keep the roots insulated and warm.

Dinner that evening in the courtyard of the Hôtel d’Europe consisted of
one amazing delicate treat after another, starting with a small vial of
melon soup, continuing with a shellfish and julienned vegetable
"entrée" in coconut milk laced with cumin, followed by pan-sauteed
monkfish in a soft garlic cream and basil oil, a tiny casserole of
Crème Brulée with a slice of fig, topped off by a "millefeuille" of
mixed berries, mousse cream and raspberry sorbet.


Come for conversation then stay for hot-dogs and beer to celebrate
American Independence Day. Conversation is free the first time you
come, dinner is 10 euro, plus receive a 10% discount on your membership

For more information and to reserve your place on July 4th, visit the
site at: or email
mailto:[email protected] or call or


* June 26 to August 7, save 30%, 40%, 50% at the official summer sales!
Best buys are at the beginning of the sale if you can stand the

* June 23, 24 and 25 Fête du Cinéma: see a movie for full price then
buy your second ticket for just 1.50 euro.

* Gay Pride Parade June 29th, starts at 2 p.m. at Montparnasse
finishing at Place de la Bastille. My favorite viewing spot–Café
Français at Place de la Bastille. Get your seat early, order kirs and
laugh all afternoon!


Our last day in Provence we headed early in the morning toward Saint
Remy de Provence to visit Saint Paul, the hospital where Van Gogh lived
for one year. The cloister is soothingly symmetrical and beautifully
planted. A field of lavender can be seen from his small and modest
room. Art works of his and of the other patients at the hospital adorn
the ancient walls.

Les Baux ("bauxite" gets its name from this famous outcropping) is the
third most visited site in France, according to Anne (first being the
Eiffel Tower, second being Mont Saint Michel). In the caverns of the
quarry of Les Baux itself, a space called the "Cathédrale d’Images," an
audio-visual exhibition (which took more than 15 years to create, by
artists Jean Charbonneau and Dong Wei) runs continuously every 30
minutes of "Portraits de Chine." You enter the cavern through red
Chinese doors and as your eyes get accustomed to the darkness, you
slowly realize that enormous photos are projected onto the quarry walls
accompanied by music fitting the dramatic images of China.

We all agreed that the experience could be described as "spiritual," or
even a bit "religious!" Even though I contend that no one can produce
an exhibition with more creativity and esthetic taste than the French,
I never cease to be amazed.

In Arles, we circled the ancient coliseum and heard stories of
gladiator-trading (a popular industry in its time) and funeral games
before heading back to Avignon, stopping again in Saint Remy for an
Italian style ice cream (gelati).


by Melinda Herron,

No matter where you travel, as a Black sojourner it is important to
connect with other Blacks and find that sense of community. When I
first came to Paris twenty years ago, I wanted to know where the Black
hair salons were, where you could go to listen to Black music and where
you could buy foods, like sweet potatoes, corn meal and black-eyed
peas. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Paris and all it had to offer
culturally, it was essential somehow to get a taste and feel for "back

Whether you’re coming to Paris for a short time or a long time, you can
discover Black Paris too. I’ve
listed a few of my favorite tour
companies below that can provide wonderful introductions into various
aspects of the Black community, h
istorically and presently.


African-American Historical Sites in Paris, and more. Detailed and
fascinating half- and full-day tours given Monday through Friday,
starting at 23 euro/$25 per person per tour (group discounts available)
For reservations contact: Julia Browne,
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ParlerParis

"Walking the Spirit Tours" retrace African-Americans’ illustrious past
in Paris.

Tour One features the Intellectuals and Artists, winding through

Tour Two focuses on The Entertainers as they jazzed up the nights
around Pigalle and Montmartre.

Also tours to discover the Diaspora and other cultures in Paris today,
plus itinerary planning based on years of experience.

A Taste of Paris Noir

Choose from 18 tour options, including Black Art, La Goutte d’Or, the
Harlem of Paris and Seine Boat Party. Noir Montmartre Tours is the tour
section of Singer Electra Weston, originally from Harlem,
NewYork, is the founder/President and is based in Paris. She states
that he overcame enormous financial barriers through education and
travel, and is dedicated to going back into the community to give
others the same opportunity. Contact Electra Weston,
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ParlerParis


Experience the legacy of African-American history that makes Paris the
world’s culture capital. Black Paris Tours offers a richly unique
experience, providing visitors with information, insight and
little-known facts about the wealth of African-American history in the
City of Light. The most popular option is the concentrated six-seven
hour walking-metro-bus tour on the history of Africans and
African-Americans in Paris. Open Monday-Friday. $80 per person. Group
discounts available. Contact Ricki Stevenson,
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ParlerParis


This is a series of self-guided walking tours about the
African-Americans who lived and worked in the City of Light, plus the
variety of Paris neighborhoods. Each tour involves 2 – 3 hours of
walking, and a highlighted map identifies the route and offers
restaurant suggestions. Fees: One tour: $150. Two tours: $300. Three
tours: $400. Four tours: $500. These tours are offered by Discover
Paris?, a unique travel planning service for Paris-bound travelers that
caters to people who want itineraries specifically tailored to their
wants and needs. Travel planning options include hotel accommodations,
dining information or à la carte activities. Check web site for further
information: or email:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ParlerParis

Editor’s note: Melinda Herron is the author of "The Insider Guide to
Black Paris". To read more, click here:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


If you are not a member of the Paris Key Club, and would like to be,
click here for more information:

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Go to /parlerparis/

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If you would like to have your message read by the subscribers of the
Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, please email me at
mailto:[email protected]

If you have links about Paris or France and would like reciprocal
links, please email me at mailto:[email protected]

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simply enter your e-mail address here (it’s free):

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Copyright 2002 Agora Ireland Publishing & Services Ltd.

TO: PPar
[email protected] OR GO TO OUR WEB INTERFACE


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