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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our New Site: Belle Provence Travels

Greetings from the sunny south of France! After a long break, several trips, & a little something called "a wedding", our new website is up & ready to go. It's much the same content with a shiny new design & loads more space for photos and blog updates.  There's also a nifty travel newsletter that I'll be writing each month for events & cool things happening around the region. Hope you'll stop by & say "bonjour"!

Belle Provence Travels:
Follow us on Facebook here.

Merci bien! Tuula

Friday, May 13, 2011

We're Moving...Virtually!

Phew, well I'm sure more than a few bloggers had quite a scare today with Blogger being offline. But it did give me a nice chance to take the afternoon off for a nice walk down by the sea. The weather's been absolutely wonderful here, and the beaches are already filling up with the sun-worshippers of the South. I have just one question: How do they all stay so gorgeous? The French paradox is alive and well...and it's laying on a towel about 500 metres from us.

These past weeks have been quite busy. I've been working on new projects, finishing up my French courses, and wading through mountains of paperwork for our upcoming nuptials next month. In short, I haven't had as much time as I would like to explore Provence or even blog for that matter.  I do know the ins & outs of city hall & some interesting tidbits about French marriage customs if that strikes anyone's fancy.

It seems as good time a time as any for me to change gears with the blog, and I'll be taking a break from blogging for the next month or so until I can focus on what I really enjoy: exploring this beautiful region and showcasing what makes it such a unique & special place.

So, I hope you'll stick with me until I come back, with a new blog format and a new French last name. There may be a special door prize for anyone who can pronounce it correctly (I'm still working on it!).

Until then, thanks to everyone who has been reading, commenting, or keeping up with the blog. It's been a fantastic experience & I've gotten so much out of sharing a bit of our life here in France. Thank you all for your support!

Bon weekend et a bientot,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Foire aux Plantes, Ollioules

If you've been following the blog these past few weeks, you've probably noticed a lot of the flower talk going around. With the coming of Spring there's been a literal explosion of flower fairs & markets, and we were lucky enough to visit a very lovely one in the village of Ollioules last weekend. 

Ollioules is about 15 minutes to the north of us, just off the "autoroute" between Toulon and Aix-en-Provence. The village is very well-connected and makes a great jumping off point for exploring either the beach cities (Sanary-sur-Mer, Bandol, Cassis, etc.) or hitting some of the other spectacular villages in the area. The nearby village of Le Castellet is my all-time favorite, and the undisputed "shabby-chic" capital of our region - with boutiques taking the term "French county" to a new level.

During the rest of the year, Ollioules is host to other popular fetes, including the Fete d'Olivier which celebrates one of the glories of Provence - the beloved olive tree. And just around the corner, and duly noted in my grand calendrier, is Le Printemps des Saveurs - the best of local restuarants at petits prix (small prices). 

Besides the flowers, fetes, & food, I love visiting these "out-of-the-way" villages because you never know what you'll discover. Each one seems to be famous for one thing or another, and sometimes it requires a good look around to get a feel for the particulars. Along with having quite a quirky name, Ollioules is also home to a host of potters and local artisans. Just a quick turn off the main square & you'll find a street dedicated almost exclusively to artist studios or ateliers

Like so much of Provence, Ollioules is a great place to get lost for an afternoon, or two, and enjoy a brief glimpse into village life - as it was, and pretty much as is remains today.

Do you have a spot nearby that "transports" you to another time or era?

Tonight we're off for tapas in our own, much larger, "village"...bon weekend a tous!