October 21, 2013

Beautiful Les Baux de Provence

Beautiful Les Baux de Provence

It seems odd that this village was not named “les beaux” (the beautiful). Impossibly perched on a plateau straddling a rocky peak of les Alpilles, the castle and hamlet of les Baux de Provence does deserve its title as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”.  The revived town site offers visitors sweeping views of the stone crags, a valley filled with plains of olives and rows of grapevines and in the distance the Mediterranean. However, les Baux is not in reference to good looks. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , ,

 
October 7, 2013

Photo Improvement on Location in Provence

Photo Improvement on Location in Provence

Nutmeg was tired of lugging around a bulky camera; with its big lens and a menu of options that she could not understand. The only two settings she had ever used were automatic and off. Frustrated that the fancy camera was not getting any “exercise,” and her iPhone offered the same capabilities in a much lighter package, she decided that enough was enough. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , ,

 
August 5, 2013

Letters from the Fete de Village

Letters from the Fete de Village

Cowboy culture runs deep in parts of Provence and throughout the Camargue. Although, the customs have Spanish roots, the Provençal character is what thrives today.  White horses, black bulls, traditional costumes, processions and convivial atmosphere all surround several days (and long nights) of events. The program is built around a celebration of the patron saint of the village church. However, most of the activities have nothing to do with religious orientation. Every Provençal village hosts a variation of these festivities. Consistent elements of which, are captured in the ABC list below. If, you missed Nutmeg’s 2012 post you can see it here. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , , , , ,

 
July 1, 2013

The Fabric of Provence

The Fabric of Provence

It was a solo visit for Nutmeg. Ginger had no interest in the Souleiado fabric museum in Tarascon. The display provides a historical overview of their fabrics and methods of textile printing.  The lighting in the small museum could be improved, and the information provided could be more explicit. The history of Indian fabrics in Provence is long, with imports starting in the late 16th century.  These brightly coloured and heavily patterned cloths were cherished when they first arrived. French production of Indian patterns started in Marseille in 1648. Initially, the output was of poor quality in comparison to the imports. However, as designers and printers mastered the trade, their capabilities expanded and the quality of products improved over time. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , ,

 
March 11, 2013

Incredible Malpasset Dam in Provence

Incredible Malpasset Dam in Provence

Nutmeg has a friend who is interested in really big construction projects. He had previously visited the site of the Malpasset Dam outside Fréjus and recommended a visit to the site as an interesting road-trip. The Malpasset Dam was an enormous initiative completed in 1954. It collapsed less than five years later, on December 2, 1959. The dam on the Reyan River was arched in design, or more technically a double curvature with a variable radius.  The dam height was 60 meters, 6.78 meters at the foundation and the length of the crest was 223 meters.   The history of the dam is a bit unclear as some reports have work starting in 1941, possibly early planning that was very likely disrupted by World War II. In 1946, there were geological and hydrological studies undertaken. There is now some question about the quality of the engineering studies, due to lack of proper funding. Construction work on the dam started in April 1952, the work was halted a few times due to labour strikes. The final cost of the project in 1955 dollars was 580 million francs. The statistics are all below: (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , ,

 
February 4, 2013

Vide Grenier in France

Vide Grenier in France

Garage sale? – are you selling your garage? Nutmeg loves the fact that the French language is descriptive in nature. Vide grenier literally translates into “empty attic”, in other words, a chance to rid your attic of used stuff. Now does that not make sense? In France, as in North America, the vide grenier season begins in April and runs well through October.  In some villages, there may even be more than one sale in a year – multiple occasions to empty that attic…   (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , , ,

 
January 14, 2013

Vallée du Jabron in Haute Provence

Vallée du Jabron in Haute Provence

In a country such as France with a rich, complex history and endless stunning vistas, one is hard pressed to pick a favourite place. A friend suggested to Ginger and Nutmeg that a drive through the Haute Provence Vallée du Jabron, is well worth the effort.  Nutmeg would like to thank their friend for the suggestion, as the valley is remarkable.  The route starts just outside Sisteron (see photo below) and heads westward along the D946 through tiny hamlets.  The following description, translated from the official website, is a beautiful portrayal of the valley: From the Durance to the Luberon, from Mont Ventoux to Sisteron lives between the moon and the stars the Jabron Valley. Giono is the mountain, the land of shepherds, lavender, olive trees … A Kingdom of silence, a land of lights, of stars … A valley where one finds the will to live. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , ,

 
January 7, 2013

Marseille Provence 2013 European Cultural Capital

Marseille Provence 2013 European Cultural Capital

August 2012 was scorching in Provence; late summer on the Mediterranean coast meant daytime temperatures of 35C. Summer crowds sweltered in the breathless, port of Marseille as they waited in queues for ferries to the nearby L’archipel du Frioul. The normally beautiful city skyline was filled with busy construction cranes. Drivers and pedestrians were equally frustrated with each other, as they crawled through gridlock, a maze of diversions, temporary hoarding and restricted views. Nutmeg had booked a few nights in the port city. Ginger was speechless. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , , , ,

 
December 10, 2012

Greener Grass Transhumance in Provence

Greener Grass Transhumance in Provence

The bi-annual movement of livestock between valleys and higher alpine pastures is a definitive marker of the changing seasons.  Transhumance comes from Latin roots, trans ‘across‘ and humus ‘ground‘.  There are forms of transhumance on almost every continent, which vary in timing, cultural influences and distances travelled.  The practice of flock herding and nomadic migration has occurred naturally for centuries as a way to transfer livestock from one grazing ground to another. In order to escape, from heat (summer) or cold (winter) depending on the direction of the movement. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , ,

 
November 15, 2012

Extra Virgin Oil an Olive Legend

Extra Virgin Oil an Olive Legend

A trip to the grocery store can be confusing. How do you choose between farm-raised, wild, organic, omega-3, free-range, local, grass-fed, pesticide-free and all natural? And that is just for eggs. (more…)

Recipes & Travel:
, , , , ,