Massacre in Merindol Provence’s Dark History

Blinded by the hues of lavender shutters.

Gently numbed by a glass or two of chilled local rosé.

It would be easy to overlook the hamlet of Mérindol during a visit to Provence.

The Luberon region is brimming with villages laying claim to le plus beau village de France (most beautiful village in France) and many of those proudly display Villages Fleuris (flowering villages) emblems on street signs.

Mérindol is not one.

Merindol Ruins

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The Peppercorn Reference List

Celebrity chefs flaunt their talents with teetering food towers, seared this and that, and sous vide experimentation, but they still rely heavily on spices to perfect the flavours.

Ubiquitous today, as the world’s most traded spice, the black peppercorn was once highly sought after for both its flavour and medicinal qualities. As Romans increased use of pepper in their cooking, savvy Spice Route merchants commanded gold and silver coins in exchange for the seasoning. This was not unreasonable as peppercorns had to travel long distances from Southeast Asia – parts of India and Java.

California Pepper Tree

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Taking Flight in Provence Gliding over St Remy

It is not often that Ginger gets to write about G&N adventures, but this experience warrants a post. As many of you know, Ginger is an airplane geek, and any experience related to flying gets serious precedence over most things. Man since the beginning of time, has wanted to escape the bonds of earth and fly like a bird. Fixed wing gliding provides man the opportunity to catch air currents and soar hour upon hour.

Gliding Aeroclub des Alpilles #StRemy #Alpilles #Provence

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London Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Nutmeg fully admits she is a Francophile, in her mind everything in France is superior to anywhere else – just ask Ginger. In fact, Nutmeg used a recent trip to the UK, for a family matter, as an excuse to head to France for 12 days. This year she has had the opportunity to expand her horizons with a couple recent trips to England and now has a growing appreciation for towpath walks and gastro-pubs. While Nutmeg definitely cannot understand driving on the “wrong side” of the road, she does appreciate an interesting travel tip, in this case, three…

French Sole @GingerandNutmeg

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5 Reasons to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who with the stroke of his pen made Joshua Tree a National Monument on August 10, 1936 (it became a National Park in 1994). However, those 825,000 acres (now: 792,510 acres) would never have been recognized as worth protecting had it not been for Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, a southern belle and unlikely activist from Mississippi, who lived in Pasadena with her surgeon husband.

Joshua Tree #California Joshua Tree National Park #JoshuaTree

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Perfectly Planned Travel for Bespoke Holidays

Antonia (Toni) Dosik’s memories of her first foreign trip include sandy beaches and seashells. In reality, Mexico was hardly a protracted voyage for a six-year-old kid from Los Angeles, but it was the kickoff for Toni’s travel-centric life.

Antonia (Toni) Dosik

At 13, Toni began plotting her return to Europe while on a vacation that included visits to England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. During college, she took advantage of a study abroad program to improve her French language skills, and to visit Switzerland and southern France. Toni spent a university year in England before racking up extensive travel miles to Provence, Paris, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia and Portugal.

Dorset England via Perfectly Planned Travel

Best in Britain was born in 1987, a small business that sprouted from friends and family asking Toni for help with their travel planning. Toni’s travel bug married her planning talent. She tells me that Best in Britain planned more than 40 trips to England and Wales for people who wanted unique and personalized vacations. Starting with a client’s response to her detailed questionnaire on their interests and individual needs, Toni has planned holidays with a focus on gardens, maritime history and even mazes.

Toni says that for clients “I planned travel for them just like I plan travel for myself.”

Hour B&B Les Acanthes Toni Dosik

Now, with Perfectly Planned Travel, Toni is concentrating her efforts on the undiscovered or under-discovered in regions that she knows best: England, Portugal, Paris and Provence.


“I am drawn to Portugal and Provence by the gorgeous scenery, the warm, friendly people, and the charming small towns and villages.  England is also about gorgeous scenery and charming villages and small market towns.  Despite its reputation, England has some of the warmest and friendliest people on earth!  Paris, of course, is quintessentially French, somewhat challenging, as cities can be, but beautiful and fascinating.”

Toni limits her number of clients, so every Perfectly Planned Travel trip is individualized and customized – there is no typical itinerary.  Toni has planned many trips for first-time travelers who are reassured by her attention to detail. In equal measure, Toni proposes excursions for people who want to experience something different in a place they have already visited.

What was your most challenging trip to date?

Planning a family vacation for 17 adults and two small children in Provence.  They wanted a house that was big enough for everyone to have their own bedroom and bathroom and yet affordable.  Lots of different needs and travel styles. They all had a great time!

Street in Alentejo #Portugal Perfectly Planned Travel

What would you say clients must discover in England, Portugal, and Provence?

  1. The lovely countryside of the Alentejo region of Portugal, with its sophisticated wineries, olive oil producers, and cork trees. Also, charming towns, villages and friendly people.
  1. The market towns of England. Most people know London and maybe the Cotswolds or the Lake Country. However, some of the most interesting places to visit in England are towns that have had markets since the medieval period, like Woodford in Suffolk or Calderdale in West Yorkshire.
  1. The area of Provence known as the Vaucluse with its perched villages, long and complicated history, and its truly breathtaking vistas of vineyards, lavender fields, and olive trees.

What would you tell your clients to taste in England, Portugal, and Provence?

In Portugal and Provence, drink wine.  Portugal produces some of the best wine in the world, but it is often not available outside of Portugal.  Not just the vinho verde (young white wine), but the delicious reds like those from Herdade Do Esporao in the Alentejo.

Same for Provence.  Explore the wine. Côtes du Rhone, Châteauneuf du Pape, and the dry rosés.  One of the best ways to do this – and eat the delicious food as well – is to have your main meal of the day at lunch, so you can drink the wine, walk around the local village or town, and still drive home safely.

England has a very undeserved reputation as a place without decent food. Ever since it joined the EU, the food in England has become more and more varied and sophisticated.  Including “pub food” that is way more than fish and chips or toad in a hole.  I had some of the best meals of my life at the Museum Inn in Farnham, Dorset, population 111!

What would you suggest for relaxation?

This is truly idiosyncratic.  I love to shop and find it both relaxing and stimulating.  Other people like to fish, or walk on the beach, or sit in a café or see a concert.  That’s where my Questionnaire comes in – it helps me to get a sense of what people like to do, what they want from their trip, their “style” of travel and how I can help them plan a perfect trip.

Are you ready for a Perfectly Planned Travel holiday?

Get in touch with Antonia (Toni) Dosik:




Disclosure: Perfectly Planned Travel is a Ginger and Nutmeg sponsor

Image Credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Perfectly Planned Travel


Pappy and Harriet’s Rocks Pioneertown

Fault lines, droughts and dust storms are the realities of the California desert where nothing can be too permanent or too real.

Pioneertown may look like a Wild West frontier town from gold rush days, but it in reality it was created in 1946 for western-themed Hollywood movies. Complete with facades of banks, jails, saloons and stables this veneer of a town was the stage set for over 50 movies through the end of the 1950s.

@pappy_harriets #Pioneertown #California

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Biking Through Bavaria on Germany’s Romantic Road

Ginger and Nutmeg’s group of friends were all interested in cycling the Romantic Road in Germany for different reasons, but it was clear that sausage, sauerkraut and artisan beers were a common denominator. However, no one was too excited to begin the bike journey in cold-weather gear in the face of single-digit temperatures.

Biking Germany #Germany #RomanticRoad @GingerandNutmeg

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The West Coast Coffee Trail on U.S. Route 101

Seattle Chihuly Garden #Seattle #WestCoast #RoadTrip

Coffee and audio books are the only way to fuel a seven-day journey in a small car. G&N joined U.S. Route 101 on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and “Where is the best place to go for coffee?” became the recurrent question of their road trip.

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