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One afternoon last week I was over in the Boulevard Saint Michel area over on the Left Bank in Paris when I decided to stop into a church that I had never been to before. Elodie was asleep in her stroller so I thought it would be a nice time to spend some quiet time in a peaceful sanctuary. I was surprised to hear the music of Leonard Cohen when I opened the door. It was just a recording, but sounded so stunningly beautiful in the big old gothic church. Then I realized there was a funeral going on, making the experience all the more poignant. “Who By Fire” could quite possibly be the most beautiful song ever recorded. I have no idea what the images are all about in the video, but it was the best recording of the original song I could find on YouTube. Have a listen.

France has a new president. Francois Hollande beat Nicolas Zarkozy 52 to 48 percent. Pretty close! When they announced the win at 8pm girls were screaming in the street and a man walked by and shouted “Hollande! Il a gagné!” (Hollande! He won!) Every so often we hear a car horn honking enthusiastically. It’s exciting to be here.

Last chance to see Madame Ingeborg Riesser’s delightful collection of tiny homes. The Paris Doll Museum’s exhibition “Doll Houses – The Art of the Miniature” ends Sunday! But if you can’t make it to the French capital by then, be sure to visit her shop Poupée Tendresse, at 9 rue Poussin, on your next trip to the City of Light.

{Images by Patrick Müller/Collection Poupée Tendresse}

One of my favorite bloggers, Pia Jane Bijkerk just wrote a book for one of my favorite publishers, The Little Bookroom. It’s called Paris: Made by Hand, and it reveals dozens of boutiques, ateliers, and secret studios that Pia discovered over the past few years while working as a stylist. It will be a while before I have the pleasure of strolling the streets of Paris again, but the first chance I get, I’ll surely have this book tucked under my arm. To celebrate its release, The Little Bookroom is offering thirty perfect off every single one of their books on France!

Dinner at La Petite Auberge

Dinner at La Petite Auberge

One of the most outstanding culinary experiences of my life transpired Thursday night in the tiny town of Saint Didier sur Arroux, in Burgundy, France.

In a village of only sixteen permanent residents, lies an epicurean treasure, La Petite Auberge. Patrons are asked to divulge information about the foods they do not like, so that the chef can leave these items out of his bespoke menu. Each guest is served an exquisite meal according to the chef’s whim, sans any ingredients disagreeable to the diner’s palate.

Here’s what unfolded on the table before me…

An Aperitif

An Aperitif

Beet Salad and Carrot Soup

Beet Salad and Carrot Soup

Confit de Legumes

Confit de Legumes

Fresh Roasted Vegetables

Fresh Roasted Vegetables

Yogurt Cake With Beet Sorbet

Yogurt Cake With Beet Sorbet

Provence Rose Wine

Last April we took a train from Paris to Avignon where we met our parents. Though the lavender wasn’t in bloom, the poppies were, and they grew along the roadside, peppering the dusty curb with their gentle red petals. For three days we wandered by rental car through small stone towns and fragrant farmlands, tasting the most exquisite rosé wines and observing the local life.

altuwa

Day 1: Cathedrale D’Images, Les Baux de Provence and Arles
This is probably the most spectacular and moving man-made attraction I have seen in my entire life. Within a vast, cool, cavernous space, colorful Van Gogh paintings and images from his life are projected onto huge limestone walls. Meanwhile the music of Erik Satie and other classical composers from the late 19th century, when Van Gogh made his home in Provence, fill the air. Truly magical.

Hungry, we drove twenty minutes to the nearby town of Arles where we ate enormous salads at a restaurant overlooking the ancient Roman arena.

Attraction
Cathedrale D’Images
www.cathedrale-images.com

Day 2: Gordes and Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt
The next day, after an energizing breakfast of toast and homemade jams at our bed and breakfast, Mas des Vertes Rives, we journeyed sixteen miles east to Gordes. An enchanting medieval town, Gordes features a castle, several pretty churches, and lots of little shops and restaurants. We wandered for a while before ducking into La Pause, one of the most charming restaurants ever, just as the rain began to fall.

Continuing on another ten miles, we made our way to Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, a historic village full of 15th century homes with beautiful old wooden doorways surrounded by carved stone. We climbed up to the top of the chateau ruins where a 9th century chapel offered a peaceful place to rest.

Restaurant
La Pause
Route Neuve, Gordes
+33 4 90 72 11 53
Read National Geographic Traveler’s review.

Day 3: Aix en Provence, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nice
En route to Villefranche-sur-Mer we stopped at Aix en Provence to see what all the buzz was about. The city was larger than any of the places we had yet been, but despite the bustle, it was beautiful. Full of students and tourists, the city streets give way to active piazzas. We found a table at an outdoor café and watched as the remnants of a market were washed away by a fireman’s hose.

As evening approached we made our way to Villefranche-sur-Mer. Our first glimpse of the Mediterranean stunned as always, and after an afternoon fighting traffic, we surrendered to the enchanting hush of this French fishing village.

After dinner we said our farewells and boarded a train to Nice. Our tiny, inexpensive hotel room came with a balcony that looked out onto the fancy pedestrian street below.

Hotel
Le Petit Trianon
11 Rue Paradis, Nice
+33 4 93 87 50 4

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