Places

Cassis: A Timeless AOC

Cassis is the most beautiful AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) in France: the vineyards cling to the slopes of a magical amphitheater that plunges towards the shimmering Mediterranean. The Phocaeans (ancient Greeks for Asia Minor) must have been enchanted with these slopes when they first saw them 2,600 years ago. And they did well to plant them to the vine. The perfect exposure, dry and nutrient-poor soils and the cooling Mediterranean breezes still give rise to some of the most expressive wines of the Mediterranean. The wines of Cassis have made this tiny seafaring village tucked right next to vibrant Marseille one of the references for white wine not just in France but in the world.

In the 16th century, Cassis became renowned for white wines, a unique distinction in a region that at that time produced mostly reds. Today, the Cassis AOC remains unique within Provence with white wines accounting for 67% of production. Rosé, which constitutes about 90% of the production of Provence, in Cassis accounts for 30% and reds account for only 3%.
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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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A TRIBUTE TO PAL, ONE OF THE ORIGINAL MODERN TROBADORS

What is a Modern Trobador if not one who detects the scent of a story and, with nose to the ground, follows it through to the end?  Like a dog with a bone, you might say.  That was our Pal, our 15-year-old ever-faithful beagle who was with us on our sojourn to Lourmarin fourteen years ago and who has sat at my feet as I have written almost every story since the inception of this blog in 2008.  She passed away today, I report with immense sadness.

Pal was an exceptional dog who touched the lives of many people.  Pal, I think...
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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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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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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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MAPPING THE MARKETS OF PETER MAYLE’S PROVENCE

Twenty years ago, my husband, daughter, and I rolled into Marseille on the high-speed train from Paris.  If I recall correctly, the Aix-en-Provence TGV station had not yet been built. We rented a car and drove to Aix-en-Provence, where we would spend several nights before moving to Lourmarin, the small village at the base of the Luberon Mountains.  Peter Mayle country...
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2015 IN PROVENCE: LOOKING BACK THROUGH THE LENS

2016 whooshed in like the infamous Mistral wind tears through the Rhône Valley.  So fast, I've barely had time to take stock of the wonders of 2015.  The Modern Trobadors covered a lot of ground in 2015, accompanied by, for the first time, a tour group--affectionately named after this blog--of eight engaging and adventurous people. It was exciting to share our love for this area of France with them, as we strive to do for all our readers with...
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MEET MARCO, LE PROPRIÉTAIRE DE CAFÉ GABY

If you have been to Lourmarin, you know Café Gaby. Located in the center of the village on Place de l'Ormeau, where main street Rue Henri de Savornin meets Rue du Temple, Café Gaby is the hub of this charming Luberon village.

Men meet at the bar when the sun first rises
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