September in Provence, and the grapes are being harvested, processed and transformed into delicious wines famous around the world.

There are lots of opportunities to visit local vineyards or village co-operatives but here is a ‘parcours’ for Puyloubier, a village a short drive east from Aix. Situated on the lower slopes of the Sainte-Victoire, its vineyards are covered by the appellation ‘Cote de Provence – Sainte Victoire’ which was launched some 20 years ago.

C Dutrey, Provence Tourisme

Try a hike:  there’s a 2 hour walk around vineyards whose working practices are ancestral, all the time enjoying superb views of the mountain which Cézanne painted so often. https://www.myprovence.fr/ca-s-agite-dans-le-local/au-grand-air/micro-voyage/bouches-du-rhone/balade-entre-les-cepages-le-sentier-des-vignerons?utm_source=My+Provence&utm_campaign=34f31ca6e4-news-nature-20-septembre-2022&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c72cda0555-34f31ca6e4-192003497&ct=t(news-nature-20-septembre-2022)


Enjoy a meal at Restaurant la Place: shaded by ancient trees, this bistro offers traditional cuisine with a Mediterranean twist.  Dishes are based on fresh produce, including fish, seasonal veg, panisses and desserts gourmands.

It’s a charming place (literally) to eat in the heart of the village and I have happy memories of eating there, especially as it is vegetarian-friendly.  At the moment, they are offering a ‘dernieres saveurs d’eté’ menu with delicious options.  Find out more: https://www.la-place-puyloubier.com/

or at Nico AndCo. Further out of the village, up a twisty road, there’s a restaurant that is perched on the side of the Sainte-Victoire. It’s called Nico AndCo (sic), and is part of the Maison de Sainte-Victoire.  This organisation is the focus of local activities and often has interesting expos on the geology and history of the area.  Thanks to Marilyn for these recommendations.  More here: https://www.instagram.com/restaurant_msv/?hl=en

Become a wine connaisseur:  visit la coopérative vinicole des Vignerons du Mont Sainte-Victoire established back in 1924 by local producers wishing to pool production. Their wines became well known for their quality as they always had been: it’s said that King René would only have rosé from Puyloubier on his table. Here you can learn the secrets of wine production and stock up at their boutique afterwards.

Stay at the Relais de Saint Ser : this 19thc farmhouse has been updated to become a stylish hotel, enjoying terrific views.

Take part in the annual wine rally:

A heads-up for this popular event on Saturday 15th October.  It started some 19 years ago to promote the various vineyards in the Sainte-Victoire area which had just been awarded its AOP.  It’s an attractive area which you will explore as you drive from cave to vineyard following clues – you do need a fluent French-speaker in the car.

Everyone ends up at a central cave or co-op where a cocktail dinatoire will be waiting, together with a bottle of wine for each adult participant.

Details: https://www.vins-sainte-victoire.com/fr/rallye-decouverte-des-vins

Booking essential as it quickly sells out. Apply online.  I may have left this annual reminder a little late this year. If so, apologies, and mark your 2023 calendar…

……………….and enjoy what the autumn in Provence has to offer.

Over 50 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II came to Provence.  Here’s a look-back on what she saw  during her 25 hours in the region. Continue Reading »

Homes for Hens

The condition of hens in factory farms is deplorable. Thankfully, there is a local organisation ‘Champs Libres aux Poules’, dedicated to finding homes for them instead of them going to the abbatoir when their ability to lay eggs diminishes. That’s around 18 months old.  Some stats…

  • Last week 170 hens were adopted at Pertuis by 20 adopters
  • 250 were adopted at Cuge-les-Pins
  • Over the past 2 years, 25,000 hens have found new homes, thanks to this group.

The volunteers also give families post-adoption support plus advice on any problems that arise; and they try to publicise the plight of these birds amongst the general public.

‘Champs libres aux poules’ was created by Heidi Carneau in 2020, with the help of the “British Hen Welfare Trust”.  Her first success was finding homes for 400 hens in two days. Since then, the operation has gone from strength to strength.

‘Saved’ hens can be featherless and aren’t guaranteed to lay eggs any more, but have lots of time ahead to recuperate.  The team examine each carefully and look after hens that are too weak or harmed to offer for adoption.

A charge of 4 euros each helps cover the association’s costs.

Next ‘séances d’adoption’ are at Aix on 24 Sept and Istres 25 Sept.

Details:  www.champslibresauxpoules.com

On a personal note, Aixcentric fils has had hens for some years now and it is quite amazing how they become almost like pets.  Certainly when they see a car turn into the drive, they stop their foraging and rush over to see who has arrived.

If you are planning a trip to Les Baux de Provence to enjoy the immersive art display of the works of Cézanne, why not include a visit to the Yves Brayer museum in the village?

They have an exhibition of the works of Camille Claudel, ( 8 December 1864 – 19 October 1943), a French sculptor known for her figurative works in bronze and marble.  Hers is a sad story of a talented woman unable to flourish in the misogyny of late 19th century society

In 1881, this 18-year-old precocious artist went to Paris to take up an apprenticeship with Auguste Rodin: she became pupil, model and lover to Rodin,  20 years her senior, and this relationship proved overwhelming for the young woman.

In addition, the exclusively male art critics of the time recognised her talent but she was still regarded as “Rodin’s pupil”.  Her struggle for recognition, and her distress arising from her relationship with Rodin, evolved into a psychotic illness which saw her hospitalised for 30 years in an asylum near Avignon where she died.

The Musée Yves Brayer is celebrating her work with an exhibition of 30 sculptures, borrowed from private collections or the Musee Camille Claudel which opened in her home town of Nogent-sur-Seine in 2017.

Finally some recognition.

The Musée Yves Brayer is the home of the permanent collection of Brayer’s paintings.  Well worth a visit. Here’s a 3-minute taste of what you can see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jqUZs1vbKs&t=10s

Museum details: https://www.yvesbrayer.com/en/

More on Camille and Rodin in the excellent ‘Hidden in the Shadow of the Master’ by Ruth Butler. (Yale University Press). Includes lots on Monet and Cézanne’s relationships with women.

A couple of ideas here for the coming weekend. Continue Reading »

… by the opening of its very own immersive digital art centre, modelled on the success of the Carrieres des Lumieres at Les Baux de Provence. Continue Reading »

The Anglican church in Marseille (rue de Belloi) will be holding a memorial service for the late Queen Elizabeth II this Saturday 17th September at 14:30.

There will also be a book for written condolences.

All welcome.

Aix always pulls out all the stops for the heritage weekend, 16-18th September, which is celebrated at towns across Europe. This year, the international theme is ‘Patrimoine Durable’ but Aix has put its own spin on the event and will be celebrating its famous waters, under the heading ‘L’Eau Notre Patrimoine’. Continue Reading »

…Starting tomorrow, Sunday 4th September, Continue Reading »

It’s easy to take the Eiffel Tower for granted – it’s been part of the Parisian landscape for over 100 years now.  What is there new to say about it?  We all know how the competition to mark the 1889 Paris World Fair ended, so no tension there. Continue Reading »