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Cote D’Azur, The French Riviera and Provence

  So what is the difference between the Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera and Provence? It was confusing, but eventually we sorted it out. The Cote d’Azur in English is The French Riviera. Provence is the short form of the entire region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. There are still all kinds of regions, districts, departments and sub-divisions, all of which seem to overlap.   At any rate, the Cote d’Azur is that area between Cassis and the Italian border (see map below), literally translated as ‘the blue coast’ of the Mediterranean Sea.   The history of the Cote d’Azur goes back forever, and there is extensive … More…

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A People Study in Aix (or Classic French Style)

  Aix is an elegant city with extremely well-dressed people, cobblestone streets, book stores, parks, gardens, and it has the beautiful Fountain la Rotunde at the end of the Cours Mirabeau, often compared to the Champs-Elysees street in Paris. There is a cultural air in Aix, and a hint of snobbishness.   So we sat at a restaurant at the Fountain la Rotunde, sipped cool drinks, and people-watched. Here’s what we saw:     I love the way French women dress. It is always a casual yet polished look. The most obvious difference was that they often wore long scarves wrapped loosely around the … More…

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French Villages, French Art, Forests & Farms

  Provence is full of quaint French villages and towns, and gorgeous landscapes. If you’re wandering around Southern France, do just that – wander.   Wander… meander…. stray… stroll… sit on a bench…. stop for lunch… have a coffee… get lost… this is the best part of travelling in France.   Allow enough time to spend half a day in a town or village that you find especially charming, and don’t be in a rush to get to the next town. This was our biggest mistake, and we know better. Our excuse was that we had a house sit in France … More…

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Wild White Horses & Black Bulls

  From Carcassonne, we continued to drive to the coast of Southern France, stopping in Aigues-Mortes, another Bastille town with a large rampart around the old town, then on to Park Camargue, a half-hour south of Arles where semi-wild black bulls and white horses roam freely…   There are 2500 “Gardians” that live in traditional windowless huts with bull horns over the door that keep a watch over the horses and bulls, and farm the land… (hut on far right)   The gardians are considered to be very noble protectors of the natural reserve, and traditionally wear black hats, moleskin pants and carry … More…

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La Citee Medievale de Carcassonne

The drive to Carcassonne was beautiful…   We loved the little towns perched on hilltops…     Then, as you come around a corner of the highway, you might think you are seeing a mirage, an illusion, but there in the distance on a hill, is an astonishingly huge citadel!   This is the fairy tale walled city of Carcassonne…     This citadel is a real FORTRESS… huge, tough, impenetrable…   Complete with moat…   Inside was a bit touristy, but some very interesting shops…   An imposing, striking, and dramatic fortress….   Carcassonne is a small city of 50,000 … More…

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House Sitting: It’s The Little Things

  House sitting sounds easy enough – who can’t look after 3 dogs and 4 chickens on a gorgeous country property?   The problem lies in the constant tension created when you are not sure of things. Why is the dog biting himself? Why is that chicken not moving? What if that had just caught on fire? What if one of the dogs gets run over? Where is this? Where is that? Driving up and down trying to find the recycle bins, or looking for a can opener for an hour. Breaking something, however small, even a glass… What if it … More…

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Double Probation: Update on House Sit in Southern France

This was a totally immersive and unexpected experience in the South of France. It was our first house sitting job and we thought it would be a fantastic way to experience the area first-hand, save money on hotels, as well as enjoy our favourite animals, the dogs.  Morning Dog Walk We’re house-sitting in the South of France. This morning T returned from taking the three dogs on their morning walk across the fields. He marched in loudly announcing, “Squeak is on double-probation! He saw a dog across the road and went racing across the field right on to the road. A … More…

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House Sitting in Southern France

  Our hostess for the house sit was a charming single woman with 3 dogs and 4 chickens.    The Property The property was a two-story house on a large, 4-5 acre, treed lot with flowers and shrubs, a pool, and it backed onto the famous River Lot. In short, a beautiful setting in the Aquitaine region of the South of France.   Our bedroom held a large white canopy bed and had a private bathroom. The weather was 23 and sunny. In short, it was lovely, and worth the train fiasco to get here.   Inside the house there … More…

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Bored With Typical Travel?

Are you totally bored with typical canned packaged same-old holidays? Longing for something a little different?   Are you tired of walking half a mile down corridors, waiting for elevators, then walking another half mile of paved walks to get to an over-stuffed pool or a crowded beach with people lined-up like dominoes?   Are you sick of having to race down to the pool to put a towel on a chair to save it? Or worse yet, paying for a chair?   Are you tired of lining-up to book a restaurant table days before you even know what kind … More…

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