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It’s back after two years’ absence.  The very Provencal celebration of different breeds of goat, La Fete de la Chevre, will be taking place on Sunday 3 April at Rognes.  The whole village will be en fete with cheese and dairy stalls, local wines to taste and buy, and some delightful goats to pat. Continue Reading »

 

 

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US Author Keith Van Sickle who  recently published An Insider’s Guide to Provence has issued a follow-up title which focuses more on his beloved St-Remy where he and his wife have spent so much time.

He shares with us his favourite places to eat, walk and cycle, as well as giving indepth background information on this very special part of Provence.

Recommended especially for those of you visiting the town this summer.  These inside tips can make your visit much more special.  In print or Kindle from Amazon.

The PACA region scored high in the Michelin 2022 rating of French restaurants, revealed during a star-studded ceremony held in Cognac on March 23rd

Now 3-stars: Villa Madie

writes journalist Stephanie Curtis.

Four restaurants of France’s southeast stepped up to one-star status, two others attained two stars, and, in one of the evening’s big surprises, the ultimate three-star rating was awarded to Dimitri Droisneau, chef of the Villa Madie overlooking the blue waves of the Mediterranean from Cassis. The only other chef to receive the coveted third star this year was Arnaud Donckele for Plénitude at Paris’s Cheval Blanc hotel.

The four restaurants which obtained one star are:

Villa La Coste

-Hélène Darroze à Villa La Coste (Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade) 

-La Bastide de Cajpelongue (Bonnieux)

-Ceto (Roquebrune-Cap-Martin)

-Une Table au Sud (Marseille) 

The new 2 stars:

-Le Blue Bay ( Monaco)

-Duende (Nimes)  (with a duo of chefs guided by Pierre Gagnaire (3 stars Paris)

This annual event, a sort of academy awards of restaurants, was held outside of Paris for the first time in the Michelin red guide’s long history, in an effort perhaps to “decentralize” its focus.

The city of Cognac, birthplace of Francois 1er and home of what is arguably the planet’s most prestigious and refined spirit, hosted some 200 chefs, 100 journalists, and innumerable other guests during three days of vineyard and cellar visits, tastings, and gastronomy offered by the great houses of Cognac, including Hennessy, Remy Martin, and Martell.

Anticipation and angst among an ocean of white-jacketed chefs positioned in the front rows of Cognac’s L’Avant Scène theater on Tuesday evening floated in the air just before the kick-off of the ceremony, but they quickly gave way to the emotion and joy of the chefs called up on the stage to receive their stars.

In Provence, there are now some 90 restaurants boasting at least one star in Michelin, which revered or detested, is the granddaddy of restaurant guides. For the full list of winners, go to:

https://guide.michelin.com/fr/fr/article/michelin-star-revelation/guide-michelin-france-2022-toutes-les-nouvelles-etoiles

After nearly two years of Covid 19, severely impacting restaurant activity, this year’s Michelin ceremony was a harbinger of a return to normal and proof of the resiliency of the French fine-dining sector.

Carnaval in Marseille

After two years of absence due to Covid, the Carnaval is returning to Marseille but in a new location: it will take place around the Vieux Port and up the Canebiere, instead of the Borely/Prado beaches as in previous years.

Over 400 professionals and locals on floats and in dazzling dress will entertain the crowds – the usual attendance is about 10,000.

They assemble at the Quai du Port at 13:30 and the procession begins an hour later.

Details: https://www.jds.fr/marseille/manifestations-et-animations/carnaval/carnaval-de-marseille-170802_A

Eating in Marseille – this week’s UK Guardian had a roundup of ideas from local Vérane Frédiani who gives her top addresses.  She writes: ‘most of the city’s gems remain off the guides’ radars, and are inexpensive. Affordable, creative and inclusive, with influences from all corners of the world and many thriving female chefs – that is Marseille’s incredible food scene, and the culinary future of France.’

Read on for some great ideas: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2022/mar/21/mouthwatering-marseille-france-culinary-revolution

Musée Matisse

I am indebted to the Uk Sunday Times for a  heads-up on a forthcoming expo at the Musée Matisse.  David Hockney’s assistant was playfully describing a series of exhibitions featuring the artist – firstly in Amsterdam ‘Dave and Vince’, then in Paris ‘Dave and Claude’ and this summer his still-lifes are off to Nice for ‘Dave and Henri’.

No info on the museum website, but I found the catalogue is in print.  It says the expo is called ‘Matisse/Hockney un paradis retrouvé’ and runs 2 June – 18 Sept.  A treat in store for us all.

For more on visiting this museum: https://aixcentric.com/2020/03/05/musee-matisse-highlights-his-sculptures/

Belfast in the late 60s is the focus of this semi-autobiographical film written, produced and directed by Kenneth Branagh.  It’s already bagged the People’s Choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been nominated for 7 Oscars.

It tells the story of 9-year old Buddy, son of a working class Protestant family, trying to survive the outbreak of ‘The Troubles’ which are increasingly impacting on their lives, despite their efforts to keep out of harm’s way.  Young Jude Hill has won acclaim for his portrayal of Buddy and magnetic couple Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan play his parents.  But my Oscar would go to Judi Dench who makes a wonderful Irish granny.  She seems able to morph herself into any role.

Music by Van Morrison adds flavour to this engrossing story.

Belfast is at the Mazarin in Aix from 2nd March, following its premiere on Monday 28 Feb.

Personal note: you might like to think twice before watching the trailer as it threads together many of the highlights and could take away some of the impact of this thoughtful film.

 

 

That was the news at the press conference this week as the final panel of the grotte Cosquer reconstruction was unveiled.

‘Cosquer Mediterranée’ will recreate the prehistoric cave paintings which exist 35m below sea-level near Marseille in an underwater labrynth investigated by speleologist Henri Cosquer.

Of course 20,000 years ago, the cave-dwellers could wander in and out of these dwellings where they drew the wild-life of their habitat: sea animals, bison, penguins, horses and seals. How did they do this? Presumably by the light of torches or oil lamps.  And why?  It could be either for religious reasons, or under artistic impulse.  The mysteries will be explored at the new centre.

Visitors will go down to the underground part of the building and tour the replica cave walls in 6-seater modules which glide across water, to make the experience as life-like as possible.  A commentary will explain the background to the images.  The exhibition has been painstakingly put together over 18 months by the agencies responsible for recreating the grotte Chauvet in the Ardeche.

The new attraction will be housed in the Villa Mediterranée which is next to MuCEM by the port of Marseille.

This building, which cost 73 million euros to build in 2013, and around 1 million p.a. to maintain, was supposed to be for a Mediterranean Parliament, then for exhibitions.  It closed 5 years later and has been the subject of much debate and ‘polemique’ since then.

The opening has been announced for the beginning of June.  Yes, those of us around in 2013 have heard all this before but La Provence declare the project ‘dans les starting blocks’; it would certainly be a timely opening for the summer tourist season.

Details: https://www.grotte-cosquer.com/en/  This includes videos of the original cave and much background detail.  As can be seen below, this group of horses is already threatened by rising sea level.

is coming soon to the place Villon at the Allees Provencales. Continue Reading »

Local teachers Fabienne and Chantal, who specialise in teaching French via personalised walking tours of Aix, are introducing hour-and-a-half group sessions for people at B1 level and over (*).

Where? Book In Bar, rue Joseph Cabassol, Aix

Cost? 30 euros per session.

Details: email destination.francais@ymail.com

(*) To test your level of French, click below:

Niveau B1:
Niveau B2