If you had to conjure up a mental picture of Provence – what would it be?
Thanks to talented photographers who have turned their best shots into postcards, books and Internet sites, one of the most iconic images of Provence is the deep purple undulating rows of lavender plants.
Nutmeg has wanted to visit Portugal since the 1970s.
At that time, her parents spent their holiday venturing along the rugged Atlantic coastline and small roads in a Volkswagen (VW) van, sharing the driving and vinho verde (young wine) with some Canadian friends. It was their photos of sunny surf swept shorelines and red-checkered tablecloths that stuck Portugal firmly on Nutmeg’s travel bucket list.
Regular G&N readers know Nutmeg cannot resist a market and certainly not if it involves coffee, lunch or both. That is exactly what a couple hours at the English Market in Cork served up. The name may seem a bit odd in the heart of Ireland, but it was the Protestant or “English” corporation, which controlled Cork at the time that created the market. The English Market first opened to the public on August 1st, 1788 predating the election of the first US president.
Most readers already know that Ginger is a devoted rodeo fan and Calgary Stampede volunteer. In the last few years, he has embraced Provencal equine traditions surrounding brawny white horses and feisty midnight-black bulls. Ginger can explain the rules of a Course Camarguaise, and he has been to ferrades (branding events). In the process, he has taken hundreds of photos of bulls running in the streets during the annual Fêtes de Village in August.
However, his heart remains saddled to traditional rodeo.
Exhausted by merciless cold and blowing snow, you can hardly wait to get seated on the airplane that promises to transport you far away from this Siberia-esq scene. You arrived at the airport within the current allowable check-in limits, but despite your best efforts the security line snaked well into the concourse and now you are at a full sprint flying through the airport with your suitcase and laptop, leaving a path of destruction in your wake. The plane’s overhead compartments are full of winter jackets, so you have crammed your carry-on under the seat and can barely move your legs for the next four hours. Sound familiar?
Now, picture the same scenario only you are mobility impaired, you cannot sprint through the concourse or even reach the overhead compartments. That is Martin Heng’s reality.
Marseille has managed to improve its image in the last few years, from seedy French port to European Cultural Capital in 2013. A financial infusion of several hundred million Euros did a lot for cleaning up the heart of the tourist area and expanding the city’s museums. The last major infrastructure project of this magnitude in Marseille was the post WWII reconstruction of the Vieux Port and le Panier district.
Marseille’s cultural transformation has been significant, including the recently renovated Palais Longchamp home of two galleries the Natural History Museum and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Salty cobalt-blue waters of the Mediterranean slip into the Port of Marseille under the careful watch of two stoic limestone sentries, Fort Saint-Jean and Fort Saint-Nicholas. In 1660, King Louis XIV ordered the construction of Fort Saint-Nicholas and the reinforcement of existing structures at Fort Saint-Jean. The justification for these monumental building projects was to improve the defense capabilities of the old port. The reality was likely more a show of military force to encourage calm among Marseille’s rebellious citizens than against the threat of external attack, the forts’ cannons faced the city.
Nutmeg loves France and Ginger tolerates her passion. The way they manage to find moderately stable ground within the quicksand of their personal interests is in those moments when friends come to visit. These encounters are an anchor with the familiar, and the ballast that settles a slightly rocky boat. Sometimes, they are able to convince those friends to explore with them.
One recent occasion was a group bike trip through the now tranquil Dordogne, a region of France that once was the subject of violent tug-a-wars between French and English forces. Either, these were good friends or they were desperate for a vacation as the general descriptions for each day were as follows:
• Moderately hilly
• Mostly hilly
• The odd flat section
• Steep hills
Maybe, it was the draw of history or the promise of wine, but they all came to discover historical Dordogne.
It used to be that riding backwards in a ‘woodie’ station wagon without seat belts was an adventure. Now parents need to find ways to entertain their kids who can text one friend, Facetime with another, post to Instagram and tweet about their lunch all in the same 30-second span of time. Riding in backwards in a car may not quite achieve the necessary thrill-quotient intensity these days.
Jean-Louis Sibuet quickly appreciated the realities of the hospitality trade, once his parents purchased le Fer à Cheval Hotel in Megève. His early grounding in the accommodation business has evolved into a French boutique hospitality chain. Mr. Sibuet and his wife Jocelyne have created a luxurious, contemporary brand while maintaining a resilient respect for the local environment unique to each of their hotel properties.