Sweet Scented Dreams

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

The lavender harvest is coming to an end in Provence. I was able to view them again this year, both on foot and on horseback, before the long stems were cut and the lavender buds distilled for use as fragrance in soaps, candles and perfume.

The tourism industry is at a bit of standstill this year and there are far fewer visitors. But you can travel to the lavender fields by listening to “Blue Gold” narrated by Stephen Fry (story by Phoebe Smith) that takes you on a calming journey through the scented lavender fields of Provence. 

Even if you are not right here in Provence, it's pretty close.






Organic Olive Oil Tour & Tasting

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

After nearly 20 years in Provence I'm still amazed at how many fabulous new places I have yet to discover. Seeing as we are at the start of the olive harvest what better time to share. 

Yesterday I was introduced to Roland and Carine Coupat who purchased olive groves and built an olive mill in Cadenet about 5 years ago. Now they sell their award-winning organic olive oil (AOC Huile d'Olive de Provence) in a state of the art facility nestled in a valley surrounded by olive trees. There are 4000 olive trees on the 37 acres of land surrounding the property. A stream flowing from the Luberon hills provides the much needed water. 

The olives are hand-harvested using nets and special harvester combs. Roland estimates it takes on average 6 kilos of olives to make 1 litre of olive oil. Three fruity oils are produced at the mill: green fruity, using olives harvested early in the season; ripe fruity, using slightly more mature olives and dark fruity, using black olives harvested late in the season. In addition they produce aromatic oils using local basil, organic lemon and truffles. Chef Guillaume Gomez who has been at the Elysée Palace (home to the French President) for 17 years and recently named head of the kitchens is a regular customer. 

Free olive oil tastings and visits of the mill. Audioguides available in English, German and French. And if you can, take time to follow the olive grove trail (short version 30 minutes,  long version 1 hr) for specatcular views of the Luberon Regional Park. 

Bastide de Laval

Open Monday-Saturday  10 am - 1 pm and 3 pm- 7 pm




La Nuit des Châteaux

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

For one night hundreds of chateaux around France will open their doors. In nearby Puy St. Reparade Bruno Pascal, the owner, has the following programme set out for the evening of Saturday October 19th:


An evening dedicated to the discovering of the family estate, from the 17th century country house and gardens to the 19th century factories.

  • Discovery- game on Arnajon
  • Aperitif and history of the estate
  • Lantern walk in the gardens
  • Candlelit walk through the ground floor of the bastide 
  • Snacks and dinner outside by the fire

The Château d'Arnajon is best known for its 17th century bastide and park, which has long been recognized as one of the outstanding examples of a Provençal bastide garden with a strong Florentine influence. It extends its regular terraces lined with Rognes stone balusters to the main road that linked Aix and Cadenet, with the Luberon as a backdrop. Water plays a major role, animating the fountains, running on the terraces, filling two large basins in which the architecture of the bastide is reflected. One of the two dovecotes houses an astonishing nymphaeum, a cave of freshness with an octagonal plan, vaulted, fully decorated, absolutely exceptional in Provence for its state of conservation.

To the west of the bastide, several 19th century factories provide an equally prized ensemble with a more rural atmosphere and another universe less majestic but rich in details, with varied corners where it is pleasant to stroll: washhouse, pigsty, hutches, henhouse, orange grove and its different species of citrus fruits.

Château d'Arnajon

Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Time: 18h to 21h30

30 €

Reservations: https://www.dartngo.fr/public/experiences/moment-privilegie-au-chateau-darnajon#


2CV Easter Egg Rally

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

Join in the fun on Easter by renting a 2CV for an Easter Egg hunt around Fontaine de Vaucluse. Promoting the event with the Tourism Office in Fontaine de Vaucluse is the company 2CV en Provence.

The company  rents the vintage cars for half days or full days. Located in Ilse-sur-Sorgue, it's the perfect place to start your journey to discover the Ventoux, Luberon and Alpilles regions of Provence.  And if you are staying within a 20 km radius they'll even deliver the car. 

For the Easter egg rally budget  58€  for a 4 passenger convertible, a road map, some chocolats and 2.5 hrs of fun on April 2, 2018

Reservations a must : email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call

If you won't be in Provence until later this summer and you are planning a party or a wedding, they can have a whole fleet available for you. 

Designed in the 1940s by French car manufacturer Citroën the 2CV (deux chevaux or two horse power) has become synonymous with vacation and holidays. Often referred to « La Deuche »a play on the word deux (two) Citroën stopped manufacturing them in the 1990s but vintage car buffs continue to collect them.  No electronic features on these minimalist light-weight cars that make for an entertaining drive and what better place to try them out but Provence?


Antiques - Spring 2018

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

Not to be confused with a brocante or les puces, which are synonyms for a flea market, the Avignon International is a huge trade fair that draws exhibitors from across Europe.
It's a morning only (8am - 1pm) antique fair. Numerous stands are sprawled out in both indoors and outdoors at the Exbibition Centre located south of Avignon. Easily accessible with loads of parking. You can sign up ahead of time online as a buyer or just bring a business card if you are in the antique business.

Avignon International

March 29
April 23
May 21
June 18

But if you have time to root and rummage the following 3 towns have their own fairs on a regular basis :

Ilse-sur-Sorgue :

This Provençal town, which has an impressive number of antique stores open year-round including the Hotel de Donguier , L'Ile aux Brocantes and Les Villages des Antiquaires de La Gare  hosts 2 antique fairs a year and numerous flea-markets from April through September. The 104th Antique Fair March 30 to April 2, 2018.

Villeneuve-les-Avignon :

Located across the Rhone river from Avignon town centre Villeneuve-les-Avignon will host a brocante in Charles David Square on the following Saturday mornings : 

March 24
March 31
April 7

Carpentras :

Every Sunday from 10am - 6pm outdoors on the Allées Jean Jaures next to Parking 'Les Platanes'. Many stalls close in early afternoon so best to go in the morning.


Camargue Festival

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

Looking for something to do in May ? The Camargue Festival takes place from May 7 -13th with dozens of tours and workshops to select from.

Wood sculpting for kids, kite building, birdhouse making workshops, nature walks, bird watching expeditions and horseback rides through the salty marshes of Rhone River Delta to name but a few.

If you have not yet been to the Camargue region of Provence- it's a step back in time. This is rural Texas à la française, 300 square miles of sparsely populated marshlands home to the local cowboys known as gardians and ranchers called manadiers, along with otters, muskrats, horses, bulls, flamingos and other migratory birds.

Reservations online  HERE

Visit Lafayette's ship that sailed for independence

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

An 18th century replica of LaFayette's three masted frigate, L'Hermione,  left La Rochelle, on the west coast of France, last week and is headed into the Mediterranean. The ship is a copy of the 1780 that transported the Marquis of LaFayette to the States in support of their fight for independence from the British Crown. 

Lafayette, a French aristocrat and a friend to both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, fought in the American War of Independence (1775–1783). He went on to be a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789. He was made an honorary citizen of the Unites States of America. Upon his death he was buried in Paris with soil transported from Charlestown Massachussets, the location of the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. 

Stops in Provence include :
Sète from March 27- April 2
Toulon from April 5-9
Marseille on April 12 -16

Below is a map of all the stops.

You can visit the ship while it is in one of the ports. Tickets are available online

Olive tree pruning and Apéro

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

On March 3, 2018 from 9 am-12 pm Château Virant will be hosting a free demonstration on how to prune olive trees by trimming decaying wood and offshoots to ensure the best harvest the following season.

The demonstration will be followed by a wine tasting offered by this award winning vineyard. The domaine is located on the terroir of Aix-en-Provence and is part of that appelation/protected location. In addition to the three dominant grape varieties grown at the domaine (Syrah, Grenache and Ugni Blanc), Château Virant produces olive oil from Aglandau, Salonenque and Picholine varieties that thrive on the clay-limestone slopes that surround the estate.

Château Virant olive oil gained in reputation and holds to this day the best track record of awards in the French olive oil sector. 

If you you are interested in olive oil tasting you can sign up for a tasting seminar at any time. Christine Cheylan, the owner, who is a former President of the North American international contest “The Olive d’Or” (the Golden Olive), will host a tasting for olive oil aficionados.

Sheep crossing

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

    This Monday May 16, 2006 at 11 am over 4000 sheep will be herded through the town of St. Rémy de Provence and taken to higher ground to graze during the summer months. This seasonal move of livestock, up to the slopes in spring and down to the valley in the fall, is known as the transhumance, from the Latin trans (over) and humus (ground).

    St. Rémy is one of towns of Provence that keeps this tradition alive and it is well worth attending - for the photo opportunity alone. The villages of Eguilles and Vinon-sur-Verdon will host a transhumance later in May.  






Chagall in Les Baux

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do


     From March 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017 the Carrières de Lumières, a former stone quarry in Les Baux de Provence, will host a new multi-media show titled: Chagall, Midsummer Nights' Dream.  This immensely popular venue, located very close to St. Remy de Provence, hosted over 513 000 visitors during a previous exhibition. 

   Set inside 5000 square metres of a cool abandoned quarry – these light shows meet music shows prepared by Culturespace, long time managers of cultural venues like the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris and the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Nice,  are unexpectedly magical. Read more here: Chagall







Eco-friendly tours of Arles

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

     There are over 100 historical monuments in Arles built successively during the Roman era, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Arles is also home to the most impressive museum of antiquity in France www.arles-antique.cg13.fr.  It is without a doubt a city that must be visited during any trip to Provence to view the immensely rich and diverse architecture that has been exquisitely preserved. 

     And if you don’t have time to walk everywhere try an eco-friendly approach with Taco & Co. They offers a selection of 1 hour tours for 45€ for 2 – 3 people in their vélo-taco or taxi bikes.  Choose from the Roman Tour, the UNESCO Heritage Tour, the Van Gogh Tour or their own Taco & Co Tour that will take you along the quays of the Rhone.  www.tacoandco.fr


Gift Giving Season Part 2

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do


Top 3 Provence Gift ideas for him:

Classic Motorcycle Tour of Provence.  Great selection of one day or several day tours (Luberon hills/coast to Cassis/ Gorges du Verdon/ Camargue wetlands) on your choice of bike from Norton, Enfield or Triumph (to list but a few classics).  Guided tours including motorcycle start at 180 euros. www.classicbikeprovence.com

Hot Air Ballon Tour of Provence.  Discover the treasures of the Luberon mountains. Leaving from the village of Roussillon the balloon will fly over the ocre cliffs, the villages of Gordes, Bonnieux and Lacoste. 230 euros www.bapteme-montgolfiere.com

Truffles.  Staight from the truffle orchard in les Alpes de Hautes Provence. Vacuum packed and shipped by courier anywhere in the world. www.truffe-noire.fr