June 9, 2019

Clos de Montmartre a Vineyard in Paris

Nutmeg had read about a small vineyard in Paris, located in the shadows of the Sacré-Coeur spires. The last time either Ginger or Nutmeg had been to Montmartre was in the 1980s. After a crazy taxi ride complete with construction bottlenecks, pre-Christmas traffic, impossibly narrow streets and hills only fit for funiculars they arrived in the middle of a mob scene. A clear Saturday afternoon right before sunset, it was immediately obvious why there had been a 30-year gap since their last visit.

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May 26, 2019

Calisson d’Aix a Sweet Almond Candy for a Queen of Provence

Calisson is a specialty candy from Aix en Provence made with almonds. There are several versions of the story surrounding how, and when this sweet treat was first made.
The French are certain the invention was theirs. It may have been as early as 1473 in honour of the King, Roi René’s second wedding, or later on as production, trade and development expanded. The first story involves a bride who was to be queen. She appeared dour, possibly unhappy with her lot in life. The tale whether true, or not, is that she smiled when she tasted candies.
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May 12, 2019

Easy Visit to Bordeaux and the Famous Vineyards

Some time ago (number of years not to be disclosed here) Nutmeg travelled to San Sebastian, Spain via train. At that point, backpack travel was heavily influenced by “Europe on $20 a Day” and where your Eurail pass would take you. So, she and her travel companion spent a total of two hours in Biarritz and about the same in Bordeaux.
A visit to France’s southwest was long overdue.
This time G&N are not travelling on Eurail passes or sleeping in hostels. They were booked on a six-day guided walking tour through the Pays Basque. Nutmeg convinced Ginger to visit Bordeaux, its famous vineyards and venture to the Atlantic coast for a few days before the walking trip started. As their available time shrunk, so did the itinerary. In the end, they decide on two nights in Bordeaux, two in wine country and two in Biarritz. Spain would have to wait for another time.
The drive from Provence to Bordeaux is a…

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April 28, 2019

A Visit to the Tarascon Castle and the Legend of a Monster in Provence

The Heart of Darkness or Niger Focus (later Nerluc) might have been an appropriate name for the hamlet located on the shores of a murky, swampy river. The muddy, opaque waters fueled rumours cultivating the nightmares of residents who asked was the beast:
A huge serpent?
A dragon?
A fierce half-lion?
A vicious turtle?

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April 14, 2019

Pablo Picasso at Rest near Aix-en-Provence

Château de Vauvenargues is located in the village by the same name, a few kilometers from Aix-en-Provence. This castle has a lengthy history.  The present structure was built on the site of a former Roman settlement. Over the centuries, Provencal counts and then the Archbishops of Aix occupied the castle. Clearly, it pays to be the doctor of a king; in 1474 Roi René gifted the Château to his physician Pierre Robin d’Angers.

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March 31, 2019

Learn about Casanova and the Jardins d’Albertas of Bouc-Bel-Air in Provence

Whether fiction or not, Nutmeg thinks it is appropriate that Casanova the infamous Venetian writer, gambler and reputed womanizer is weaved into the history of les Jardins d’Albertas.
This garden, owned by the Albertas family, is located just a few minutes outside of Aix-en-Provence in the town of Bouc-Bel-Air, where the ancient village was built on a bouc (small hill).
The roots of the Albertas family stretch from Alba, Italy to Aix-en-Provence, where their influence on the Provençal city is notable. Henri and his son Jean-Baptiste d’Albertas, both held the high-ranking title of Président de la Cour des Comptes (Court of Auditors).
One of the most recognizable and photogenic squares in Aix is Place d’Albertas.  This sunny plaza carved out of the narrow winding streets of the old town resembles a small Italian piazza. Henri felt that the exterior of his home and his “view” were not distinguished enough. He commissioned a local architect to renew the façade of his house and…

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March 17, 2019

Sunny Sunflowers Why We Love The French Tournesols

Provençal postcards, Pinterest boards and Instagram are filled with photos of sunny sunflowers. Long before the Internet these beautiful flowers inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint a still life series called Tournesols (Sunflowers). He painted the first of the group in 1887, in Paris, and then later (1888-89) in Arles.
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March 3, 2019

Retail Nightmares Big-Box Shopping in France

Nutmeg is here to tell you that Big-Box shopping is the same nightmare in France, as it is in Palm Springs, Chicago, Airdrie and Scarborough.
Big-box retail (think Target and Walmart) has evolved as a cost effective development strategy, under the guise of offering consumer convenience.  Without boring you all with the details, this concept works well for the landlord and tenant as no party is too “invested” in the location.  The big-box retail model has evolved from “destination” single stores, into power-centres where the customer can spend an entire day cruising hundreds of outlet stores. 

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February 17, 2019

Canistrelli Recipe Sweet Corsican Cookies to have with Coffee

It is highly probable, that Nutmeg’s nutritionist friends will not consider this practice remarkably healthy. So only do so sparingly, or when they are not watching.
There is something decadent, childish and delightful about eating cookies with your morning coffee. Ginger and Nutmeg have discovered along their travel routes to Italy and Corsica that this “sweet” tradition is decidedly a part of the routine in some areas.
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February 3, 2019

5 Reasons You Must Visit Plan a Visit to Australia’s Noosa Headlands

Despite early beginnings (1879) as a protected area, the Noosa Headlands would not exist if real estate developers had been successful in their push for further coastal development. Luckily for visitors and residents today, park advocates won their bid to protect the natural landscape in the 1960s. Read more about the Noosa Parks Association here.

So, why should you visit the Noosa Headlands?
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