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Wednesday, 01 September 2010

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d'Azur - Page 3

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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Our two-and-a-half-week honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur afforded us with the time to really relax and experience life in France. It was the perfect antidote to the extremely stressful time before our do-it-yourself wedding, when everything had to be done all at once just before the event, as well as the typical stresses of two very different families meeting for the first time.

We’d arranged in advance to have our dinners at the guesthouse as well, so after settling in, we came down for an extended French meal. We started with an aperitif in the living room before going into the dining room for the entrée, pasta with a Provencal tapenade sauce, followed by a meat cooked en crute (wrapped with pastry dough and baked), a selection of cheeses, and plum tart for desert, all served with wine. Pierre was very polite and friendly; We talked about travel, culture and politics, and it was definitely an authentic French meal, as it lasted for over three hours. Late at night, his partner Fabrice came in and we all chatted a while longer.

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay BoltonThe next day we went to the market at Cotignac (which was quite large considering the size of the town) with many vendors selling local foods and artisans selling their wares. We bought lots of edibles and then went on to Entrecasteaux, a typical French village, and had a picnic in its garden. Next we visited the Abbaye du Thoronet, which is a well-restored abbey with an incredibly acoustic chapel, where we heard an example of how the monks’ chanting must have sounded. A tour guide was demonstrating and his voice filled the hall as if he had a microphone when just using his regular singing voice.

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay Bolton

 

We stopped at Chateau Sainte Croix Winery and a couple other wineries along the way, and at each one we were the only ones there sampling the wines, even though they were great. This is probably because this area doesn’t have many tourists and there are many vineyards. We also went to Les Moulins Aufies, a farm in Carces that makes fabulous fois gras and bought some of that as well. We had another great meal at our B&B, and this time there were six of us, as a couple from Belgium, who were bicycling through the region from inn to inn, were spending the night as well. For breakfast we had a large selection of homemade jams – including unique ones like lavender and thyme – bread, cereal and coffee. The entire bill came to 198 euro ($250), 55 per night for the room and 22 per person for each dinner including wine and drinks, so it was a great value as well.

Next we headed to Aix-en-Provence, which was only about an hour away, but once we got there it was very hard to get to our guesthouse since all the streets were one way, and it was a maze we never quite figured out. We eventually decided it would be easier to walk there with our bags, than to attempt to find our way through the thin streets thick with traffic and light on signs.

L’Epicerie had a nice, small room waiting for us up several flights of stairs overlooking the courtyard in back and the neighbor’s rooftops. The location was the best part about it – right next to the Forum des Cardeurs, one of the most popular squares to hang out at night, filled with restaurants and bars. It was also just steps from the Cathedral Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay BoltonSt-Sauveur, which was beautiful and ornate; From its baptistery with tall Roman columns to its cloister with symbols of the evangelists. We walked all around the pedestrian streets lined with shops, creperies, café’s and gelaterias, and grabbed slices of pizza at one of the many pizzerias all over the city. Aix is a college town, so that may explain the abundance of inexpensive take-out. There were many small squares with fountains and outdoor cafes great for people watching; We joined the crowds vying over the World Cup at one in front of Hotel de Ville.


In the morning we had a good breakfast at our hotel: In addition to the standard bread, homemade jam and yogurt, the congenial owners also served cheese omelets with arugula, which were very good. We tried to visit the Pavillon de Vendome, but it was closed for a private event, so we continued to Ateliar Cezanne (Cezanne’s studio) and saw the space where he worked. It had tall windows, a high ceiling, and many of the objects that appear in his still lifes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any of his paintings; to see his paintings its better to go to Paris, although he and so many other artists did spend their lives in Provence. Still, it is good to see his studio and imagine him painting here.

Back downtown it was market day, so we explored all the farmers’ offerings and then picked up a takeout lunch at Paul bakery and café, where a salad, drink and delicious raspberry tart was only seven euro ($9).

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay Bolton

 

We proceeded on our journey to Arles and checked in at Hotel Porte de Camargue just across the Rhone River from the old town. The room was simple, inexpensive and clean, but Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay Boltonnothing special, although the people were very nice. Arles is quite small so we walked across the bridge and all around the old town pretty quickly. The town square with the incredibly carved St-Trophime church was my favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay BoltonArles is known for being the place where Van Gogh did much of his work. He’d had a house here before he ended up in the hospital for cutting of a piece of his ear, after which he finally checked himself into a sanitarium near St. Remy. You can visit the flower-filled courtyard of the hospital he stayed in and painted, even though there are still rooms upstairs for patients; it is called L’Espace Van Gogh. We also went to the very well preserved Roman Ampitheater and Collisseum, which is still used today for bull fighting.

 

 

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur, Honeymoon Nice, MOMA, travel St Paul de Vence, Le Hameau, La Cocarde, Fragonard Perfumerie tour, Canadol-sur-Mer, Le Plageron, Domaine du Rayol botanical gardens, Montfort sur Argens, Le Chat Luthier B&B, Abbaye du Thoronet, Aix-en-Provence, L’Epicerie, travel Arles, La Gueule du Loupe, Hotel Porte de Camargue, Graveson hotel, Le Cadran Solaire, Mas de Gourgonnier Winery, Velleron, Villa Velleron, travel Apt, Le Couvent, Honeymoon Avignon, La Banasterie, La Cantina Avignon, Christina Kay Bolton

We had dinner at La Gueule du Loupe on recommendation from the people in our hotel. It was a fabulous meal and the prices were very reasonable. Their three-course “menu” was 24 euro each ($30) and included an amuse bouche of shrimp with cream, a roasted tomato and goat cheese entrée, tuna on a bed of julienne vegetables for the main course, and a strawberry tart with rose ice cream. We also enjoyed a half bottle of their light and flavorful house white wine, Mas de Rey, for only 10 euro ($13). The presentation was artistic and most importantly the quality of the food top notch.

(Page 3 of 6)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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