Culture

Easter Monday Brings Omelets and Rosé Chez Nous

Twenty years ago, in April 2000, we were tooling along the Canal du Midi with five friends. We rented a barge – a péniche -- and slowly cruised from Toulouse to Argens-Minervois, each of us taking turns behind the wheel and in the galley kitchen. Easter coincided with this trip and we produced a fabulous lamb dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate that occasion.  The next day, we made omelets.

We learned from someone during our market explorations that the Monday after Easter was also a holiday and that post offices, banks, stores, and most other businesses would be closed. Called Lundi de Pâques or, in English, simply Easter Monday, it is primarily a day to relax.  We were unable to establish any religious significance, but we did learn that the French in the south of France make omelets on Easter Monday.   Et Dieu sait while in France, we wanted to do what the French...

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JACQUELINE BRICARD’S “REGARD NAÏF EUROPÉEN” EXHIBITION EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER

There were just a few paintings still to hang when I left Lourmarin in late September. Before departing—and two days before the opening--I popped by to see Jacqueline Bricard, proprietor of the naïf art gallery bearing her name and curator of the “Regard Naïf Européen” exhibition. She was in the midst of the usual frenzy entailed in the preparations for a large exhibition...
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HOLLYWOOD – AUBAGNE – PARIS: A TRIANGULAR JOURNEY

It’s Academy Award season, and as it was with me a year ago when I wrote of Marcel Pagnol, I am drawn back to Provence, in fact to his hometown of Aubagne. On this occasion it began last fall when I was discussing with my wife Benedicte, who is French, about the genre films that Hollywood is known for which might appeal to her. In the past couple of years she has become a fan of American westerns, so I thought Foreign Legion fare...
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WHO’S THE FACE BEHIND “LOURMARIN, LOURMARIN”?

If you follow what’s happening in Lourmarin, the charming village at the southern base of the Luberon where the Manfull family has been hanging their hats for many years, you’ve no doubt seen something about “Lourmarin, Lourmarin.”  Have you wondered what “Lourmarin, Lourmarin” is?  Earlier this year, it started popping up on FaceBook and Instagram and I, for one, wondered what it...
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STOMP SOME GRAPES IN PROVENCE

If you are in Provence and looking for something different to do—in between touring Roman ruins and visiting hilltop villages—I’ve got the answer:  Kick off your shoes, climb into a huge oak barrel filled with grapes, and start stomping.  That’s what Provence WineZine photographer Pamela O’Neill and I did earlier this month when we visited Les Pastras, an organic farm, located in the southern part of the Luberon, most known for their truffles.  We had a ball, not to mention felt a little like Lucille Ball in her iconic I Love Lucy episode about her adventure stomping...
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GARLIC IS IN THE AIR…IT MUST BE AÏOLI TIME!

When the weather gets hot, our mortar and pestle becomes a fixture on the kitchen table. The familiar rhythmic sound of pestle-striking-mortar fills the air and the pungent aroma of garlic wafts through the house. Aïoli. It's aïoli time. The word, aïoli, comes from the French word for garlic--ail--and the Occitan word for oil—òli—the two primary ingredients in this deliciously simple Provençal dish. So ubiquitous is this sauce on tables in Provence that it is also known as...
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MARC CHAGALL AT THE CARRIÈRES DE LUMIÈRES: EXTRAORDINARY

The Carrières de Lumières defy description.  One could say (aptly) that it is a multi-media extravaganza—about 100 projectors casting 3,000 images on walls as high as 14 meters, spilling onto the ceiling and the floor, and choreographed perfectly with music ringing out from about 25 speakers strategically placed within the 5,000 square meters of a former limestone quarry certainly qualifies as fantastic...
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CATCHING UP WITH THE PROVENCE GURU

Those of you who travel to Provence or fancy a trip sometime soon--or who are lucky enough to live here--no doubt are acquainted with the Provence Guru. The Guru--aka, Jamie Ivey--and wife Tanya traded their London lives for adventures in Provence that spawned four books, a glossy magazine about Provence, a market stall where they sold rosé, a pop-up rosé bar, and a blog. I caught up with Ivey at Café Gaby in Lourmarin last week to find out what was keeping him busy these days. And, I got some scoop...
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ESCAPE THE GLITZ OF CANNES WITH A VISIT TO ÎLE SAINT HONORAT

Cannes is the quintessential French Riviera resort, renowned for its glamour and bling year-round.  Come May and the internationally acclaimed Cannes Film Festival, the Promenade de la Croisette that wraps around the waterfront, passing the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès where the festival is held, will swell with even more rich and famous folks who have flocked to Cannes to rub shoulders with celebrities and, oh yes, see a few film...
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PAGNOL

The Academy Awards, which I look forward to each year, will be telecast Sunday evening, February 28, and this presents me with a confliction, for February 28 is also the birth date of legendary French filmmaker Marcel Pagnol. Seven years ago, on his anniversary, we had a party in his honor at our home with a group of French friends, all admirers of his work. (Could there be a Frenchman who is...
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