In May 2003, the label Jardin Remarquable (Remarkable Garden) was created, to celebrate and document the magnificent gardens of France. A Jardin Remarquable, is one that meets the established criteria; integration in the site, interesting blend of vegetation, quality of the location, engaging use of plants and where applicable provides historical interest.
Ginger and Nutmeg spent 13 months in France, a journey that would have been impossible without the help of friends and family. They would like to pass on best wishes for a delightful holiday season to all their friends, new and old.
The English and French love to debate many things, including the origin of the popular Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Ginger and Nutmeg do not have the answer but thought it would be a fun way to show off some photos of their time in France.
Wishing everyone a safe and fun-filled holiday season. Watch for more posts in 2012!
Ginger and Nutmeg were invited to join some friends for a day of “easy” cycling on L’Île de Porquerolles. This is the biggest of three small islands that make up the Îles d’Hyères or Les Îles d’Or (Golden Islands), located just off the coast from Hyères. This is the rougher, wilder, “native” side of the Cote D’Azur. The ferry leaves from a couple locations; you can check the schedule on the official site.
Scheduled departure for the ferry was 10:30am, a bit of extra traffic congestion through Toulon, and a slight wrong turn made for a VERY tight connection. G&N were absolutely the last to board the boat, but they made it! This late February day was certainly not one for bathing suits or t-shirts, fleece and puffy jackets were in order. The temperature hovered around ten degrees Celsius, with gusting winds and a constant threat of rain. Nutmeg is absolutely not a boat person, so the short choppy crossing from the mainland was just the right length of time (approximately 20 minutes).
In France and much of Europe, hiking or randonée is a significant part of the culture. There are walking trails for all levels that crisscross the continent. The longer trails form part of the GR system or Grande Randonée, there are over 60,000km of trails in France alone.
Ginger and Nutmeg love hiking, but they never expected to start the season in January, when they were introduced to the International Hiking Group of Provence. G&N made it to as many of the scheduled Tuesday hikes as they could fit in to their busy European exploration agenda.
Each hike was unique, the scenery beautiful and weather at times unpredictable. All of the hikes offered opportunities for some laughs along the way. Some of the favorites are highlighted below:
Ginger, Nutmeg, and Jade recently arrived back in Calgary after their “Year in Provence”. Ginger insisted that he had to return to North America for several commitments. Although, he did admit that returning in the month of November was dubious. The two ladies agreed to come back reluctantly, but only after Ginger promised that they would return to France next summer.
Nutmeg was thrilled that there was no snow on the ground for their arrival.
Jade was happy to get out of her travel kennel. She was not too fussed about where she was, as long as the food kept coming at regular intervals.
Ginger was probably the most excited as the NHL hockey season was underway and his regular “old boys” league were still playing on a weekly basis.
The small city of Martigues is located at the point where the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Etang de Berre meet. Sometimes referred to as the Provençale Venice, Martigues is attractive. There is a series of small canals, tiny pedestrian-only streets and attractive cafes.
Thursday is market day in Martigues, and that is where Ginger and Nutmeg met up with Ghyslaine and her husband Jacques. Aside from being a lovely couple, they run a successful company focused on top quality cooking classes. Appropriately named, La Cuisine Mèditerranéenne de Ghylaine, is focused on traditional cooking and techniques from the region.
Insult to injury is what I would call this post. First of all Ginger and Nutmeg leave me alone for two nights, while they go to a fancy hotel. Apparently, the hotel would not accept Black Labradors, and that is the story that Nutmeg is sticking to. Then, they went hiking in the reputedly beautiful Gorges du Verdon (allegedly as I was not there). Then the worst part! They had lunch with the fastest dog in France, Dabir a Saluki, in Banon.
One of the greatest pleasures Nutmeg had during the months in Provence was being introduced to Henry Ferrier and his lovely wife Annick Brunet. This is one energetic couple; Henry is an artist, writer and philosopher, Annick has been in politics, film and continues to be an enthusiastic volunteer. The first time Ginger and Nutmeg met Henry, he recited a riddle:
It lands on the buttered side
It lands on its’ feet
It stays aloft deciding which side to fall upon
Just try typing 11/11/2011 in your web browser and see what results you get, in this case a mere 14,490,000,000. There are volumes of prophesies regarding the significance of the date. Numerologists and astrologists have published tomes on the subject and the demise of the world as we know it. Bored? You could spend hours on this subject.
This post has nothing to do with that.
November 11, 1918 was the official end of World War I. It was at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” when the Armistice was officially signed with Germany, agreeing to the end of hostilities. In France, Armistice Day is a national holiday to celebrate the country’s role in the allied victory, of this Great Patriotic War. The French population suffered tremendously during the First World War. Almost every town has a memorial to recognize the lives lost in battle. The French use the blue cornflower or Bleuet as a symbol to commemorate the sacrifices, the blue reminiscent of the uniforms worn by soldiers.
The following poem was written by Guillaume Apollinaire (his adopted name), his reflections of youth and conflict.
I could tell that Nutmeg would not have time to write this post, as they were busy packing bags, boxes, sporting goods and the car. I travel much lighter than they do, Ginger had cleaned my kennel, so I was ready for the voyage back to Calgary. With the two of them distracted, I thought that I would take this opportunity to share with you a few of my favourite things about the village of Eygalières.