A Day in the Luberon

A Day in the Luberon

Easter Week 2017
The South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

We’re sharing some favorite villages of the lush Luberon region north of Aix with our Aix Easter Festival tour guest today. And as she collects artisanal pottery, we’re seeking out more than just fabulous vistas. At the top of the russet-hued village of Roussillon is a tiny boutique specializing in local ceramics – and now Janice has a few choice pieces that will wing their way to her US home! From atop the Castrum we take in the views – the shocks of red clay amidst the dark green of the pines, a lone poppy in the grass,a chateau nestled far below. It’s a perfect day to take in all the colors of Roussillon. In the parking lot below, market stalls cluster among the surrounding colors. Beside the cliffs, scraped in decades past for their ochre pigments, we pause for lunch, then we’re off to our next village, Lourmarin. On the way we pass Bonnieux, tumbling picturesquely down a hillside – it always demands a photo stop!
After zigagging through the Luberon range, we coast down to Lourmarin, with its elegant chateau, and wander through the peaceful lanes for a bit before returning to Aix.
This evening’s concert is in the historic Jeu de Paume, a restored handball court originally constructed for the entertainment of the nobility in the 1700s. Beneath this elegant ceiling we listen to tenor Mauro Peter sing Schumann, Strauss and Liszt, ably accompanied by Helmut Deutsch on the piano, before completing our day with a Moroccan feast at Le Riad – the best tagines in town!  Our waiter effortlessly pours tea from yards above the cups – that takes some practice, I believe!

Antiques on the Islands

Antiques on the Islands

Friday, April 25, 2014
The South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

Off to another favorite today – the antique-filled village of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. As the name implies, it’s a collection of islands in the Sorgue river.

In years past the silk industry made the town rich, and here and there water wheels dot the rivulets running through town.

The charm seems effortless here – so many vintage treasures still remain in the town, such as this Café de France, on the register of historic cafés.

Retaining so much of its history, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a perfect place to showcase France’s largest antique center outside of Paris.
It’s obvious that each shop, whether showing off new goods or old, is proud to be a part of this lovely center.

Across from the Café de France is the village church, simple on the outside, but filled with gilded splendor within,

Vintage storefronts (this one’s still a home-goods store, as it was generations ago)

line up beside arcaded shops – a shoemaker worked here in the past.

As we’ve seen all over Europe, if the chairs are out, the antique shop’s open.

This one has beautifully crafted antique chairs galore – Jill may have found just the right one for her home in southwest France!

It’s lunchtime for shopkeepers – they’re closing up for the next couple of hours. So we find an interesting menu and a pretty spot by the river

and stop for lunch as well.

When the shops re-open, we’re ready to resume the hunt. This antique surrounded courtyard is a favorite.

We have great memories of finding just the perfect pieces for our Aix apartment in a couple of these shops. Anyone have a spot for a Eiffel Tower dining suite?

Back to Aix, we enjoy one last concert in the historic Jeu de Paume theater,

and finish our week together with a terrific dinner in tiny Millefeuille. As the name reminds us, a previous career of the chef-owner  was as a pastry chef – we make sure to leave room for desserts at this place! After an amuse bouche of carrot panna cotta topped with a pea-mint mousse and fabulous main courses,  we proceeded to those decadent desserts –

what a great finale!

From the Market to the Picnic

From the Market to the Picnic

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

We’re on the hunt in the market today, gathering goodies for a picnic lunch at a friend’s home in the country,

but there’s always time to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, the lilacs – lovely, no?

We stop by our favorite baker, Farinoman Fou, for some olive fougasses, then by the charcuterie carver, to pick generous slices of hams and sausages from his cart.

We bump into one of our favorite Aixoise chefs, Jean-Luc of Le Formal (where we enjoyed our opening-night dinner), who recommends a few of his favorite stalls, such as a couple who bring in their own produce, straight from the farm (not purchased from a wholesaler as other vendors do).

A selection of cheeses, some crisp juicy apples and succulent pears, a rhubarb tart from Paul, and we’re ready to load up the car.

The Fastiers (whom we last saw in New York at Sothebys)  have invited us to their lovely home and garden  – we’re all hoping that the predicted rain will hold off until we can enjoy our picnic.

But first, a tour of the garden,

with a peek into the gypsy wagon,

a fun spot for overnight guests,

then the koi thriving in the adjacent pond.

The rain’s holding off so we bring all the goodies to the outdoor living room – platters of cured meats,

baskets of wine,

and arrange it all on the tables – truly a feast! And it was fun to gather, too!

As we finish up, a triumphant cackle wafts across the lawn from the chicken coop, and Benedicte fetches the latest eggs from the proud hens.

As the rain begins to drum on the roof, we realize that it’s time to head back to Aix to get ready for this evening’s concert.
Changed into our evening clothes, we dodge a raindrop or two as we walk to the historic Jeu de Paume theater, where Louis XIV played la paume (handball) in 1660, stopping to admire a rare city garden.

Transformed into a theater in the late 1700s, the Jeu de Paume is one of the last surviving exampes of a XVIII century Italian-style theater. A string trio’s on the program tonight –  Michael Barenboim on the violin, his mother, Elena Bashkirova at the piano, and Alisa Weilerstein on the cello. This evening is the first of three ” Schubertiade’s” on the festival schedule – and the composer’s Arpeggione Sonata for violin and piano is first on the program, followed by his marvelous trio, which I’ve enjoyed playing with friends this year – I’m inspired to pull it out again for another attempt – it’s a true challenge!

A gorgeous program, which we enjoy perched in our red felt boxes

in this little jewel-box of a theater.