Day Seven- Van Gogh, Glanum and Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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The skies were gray and there was a bitter cold drizzly rain on this day we visited St Paul de Mausole, the asylum where Vincent van Gogh spent a year and painted starry night along with many other masterpieces. It was an eery feeling being in the same room that he painted his famous “room” paintings. The asylum is still a working institution which helps to heal mentally ill women through art therapy. The patients who are living there sell their art in the gift shop. It was hard to believe many of them were untrained artists before they arrived there. The work was very moving.

We left there to explore the ancient city of Glanum-one of the largest and oldest archeological sites in France. Glanum was founded by Celto-Ligurians in the 3rd century BC, well before the region was conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar. It was a vast area of ruins that we walked through with a guide explaining all the areas. Some of the structures were constructed later from fragments that were found to give the visitors a better feel for aesthetics of the city.

Then that evening we traveled to the world-renowned wine region of Chateuneuf-du-Pape where we were treated to a wonderful wine tasting and a delicious and memorable dinner at a restaurant high on a hill with spectacular views of the region.

This was such a special journey. I will never forget these seven days and the glorious sights, tastes, smells, laughter and wonderful experiences we shared in this very beautiful part of the world.

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Van Gogh's Bedroom Window

Van Gogh’s Bedroom Window

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the ancient city of Glanum

the ancient city of Glanum

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These columns are newly constructed on the site designed from remnants found among the ruins.

These columns are newly constructed on the site designed from remnants found among the ruins.

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This was our favorite at the tasting.

This was our favorite at the tasting.

 

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Au Revoir!

Au Revoir!

 

 

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Day Six- Provencal Cooking in Avignon

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This day was our very favorite. We traveled to Avignon, an ancient walled in city that was bustling with activity. We started out in the beautiful lobby of Le Mirande Hotel where we met Jean Claude Altmayer, a world renowned chef bursting with personality. We were all given baskets and our group of amateur chefs walked through the ancient streets of Avignon following the chef to the market, Les Halles, which from the outside had a wall covered in herbs. We watched the chef shop and joke with the various proprieters and stroll along from stall to stall purchasing duck, calamari, and produce for our four course lunch. Minutes later we were back in his beautiful country kitchen in the cellar of Le Mirande piling ingredients on to a massive table while Chef Altmayer threw wood into the ancient range and his beautiful sous chef, Séverine Sagnet, assigned tasks. Suddenly things are happening at once, half of our group went to the wine cellar with Séverine for a wine tasting while the other half cut the heads off the ducks. I am glad we were the first wine tasting group. When it was our turn in the kitchen we cleaned and cut the calamari for the soup and cut the puff pastry into circles for our delicious strawberry tarts. Chef Altmayer along with Séverine beautifully plated each dish and we ate family style on a simply gorgeous country french dining room table. We had asparagus soup, calamari soup, duck with glazed carrots and artichokes and a strawberry puff pastry tart. After dinner we were entertained by the chef with a rap/dance version of Sur le pont d’Avignon. I only wished I had my cell phone to shoot a video it was priceless.

Steve and the Chef on the way to the market.

Steve and the Chef on the way to the market.

This is the outside of the market... those are all herbs climbing the walls.

This is the outside of the market… those are all herbs climbing the walls.

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The sous chef giving instructions when we returned to the kitchen.

The sous chef giving instructions when we returned to the kitchen.

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so simple yet so delectable.

so simple yet so delectable.

Day Five- Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and the Pont du Gard

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On this day we traveled to the beautiful town on the Sorgue River, Fontaine-deVaucluse. The water here was an amazing emerald green like nothing I’ve ever seen. There were beautiful views from every angle.  After this, we traveled to visit the Roman marvel of engineering, The Pont du Gard. Built around 50 A.D. by the Romans who needed a way to bring water to nearby Nimes, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had the priviledge of going inside and traveling to the very top. Something you need to book 2 years in advance.

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Waitress preparing for the lunch crowd at one of the cafes on the water.

Waitress preparing for the lunch crowd at one of the cafes on the water.

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These wild orchids grow everywhere in Provence.

These wild orchids grow everywhere in Provence.

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The Pont du Gard, aqueduct built around 50 A.D. by the Romans. We went to the top!

The Pont du Gard, aqueduct built around 50 A.D. by the Romans. We went to the top!

This tour guide from the museum... had the key to the secret door.

This tour guide from the museum… had the key to the secret door.

That's us at the top.

That’s us at the top.

View from the top...

View from the top…

Day Four – Hilltop Villages of the Luberon

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On this day of our Tauck Culturious tour we explored the beautiful hilltop villages of the Luberon. We started out by walking to the top of the village of Bonieux, to see a charming 12th century church and to take in the spectacular views of the village. After that we headed to the town of Menerbes, which became famous overnight with the publication of Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence”. While there we had a delicious lunch at a local cafe.

Then we headed to Roussillon for a hike in the former quarries. Never have I seen such vivid terracotta hues in a landscape and the entire village is filled with the warm, rich color that is unbelievably stunning. Check out the pictures of the “orange family” well named when you see them…

Beautiful views were everywhere in Luberon.

Beautiful views were everywhere in Luberon.

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Lavender wasn't blooming yet but we saw plenty of wisteria

Lavender wasn’t blooming yet but we saw plenty of wisteria

One day I will paint this picture. I loved how these french children were mesmerized by the scenery as much as we were.

One day I will paint this picture. I loved how these french children were mesmerized by the scenery as much as we were.

Do you see how so many artists are drawn to this part of the world? This photo is not enhanced in any way... look at this sky.  Incredible.

Do you see how so many artists are drawn to this part of the world? This photo is not enhanced in any way… look at this sky. Incredible.

Our hike in the quarry.

Our hike in the quarry.

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This child had a blast covering herself in dirt. I don't know how they ever got back in their car.

This child had a blast covering herself in dirt. I don’t know how they ever got back in their car.

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The "orange family" having ice cream. These kids had a blast. But still, how did they get in the car?

The “orange family” having ice cream. These kids had a blast. But still, how did they get in the car?

Day Three – Gordes, Abbaye de Senanque, and Picnic Lunch

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On our third day of our journey we started out by driving to Gordes, a village built on the foothills of the Monts of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon, Gordes is one of the most well known and most beautiful hilltop villages in France. Here we arrived just in time for shopping in the market for our picnic. We then went on a morning hike to the beautiful Abbaye de Senanque, still home to Cistercian monks. Then we arrived at our picnic sight to relax and drink wine and taste our culinary purchases from the market. See for yourself…

Gordes, how magnificent is this view? Where we stayed, La Bastide de Gordes was built into the side of the mountain.

Gordes, how magnificent is this view? Where we stayed, La Bastide de Gordes was built into the side of the mountain.

The Market at Gordes where we shopped for our picnic.

The Market at Gordes where we shopped for our picnic.

My husband getting into the french life with his fedora and shopping with a pink basket for baguettes in Gordes for our picnic

My husband getting into the french life with his fedora and shopping with a pink basket for baguettes in Gordes for our picnic.

Our view from the vista at the end of our hike. This is looking down on the Abbey. The lavender was not yet in bloom... can you imagine how spectacular this must look in purple?

Our view from the vista at the end of our hike. This is looking down on the Abbey. The lavender was not yet in bloom… can you imagine how spectacular this must look in purple?

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Picnic purchases. These strawberries were the most delicious ever.

Picnic purchases. These strawberries were the most delicious ever.

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Here we are overlooking Gordes.

Day Two – A Week in Provence- Cezanne’s Studio and Family Home

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Our tour began with a short walk in the footsteps of Cezanne to his beautiful studio and to the actual spot where he carried his easel and canvas and painted the spectacular Mont Sainte-Victoire many times. Then we toured the grounds and first floor of his family home, The Jas de Bouffan, where he painted many more of his masterpieces.

same view Cezanne had when painting Mont Sainte Victoire

same view Cezanne had when painting Mont Sainte Victoire

One of his many masterpieces

One of his many masterpieces

Bird perched on the top of the tree with Mont Sainte Victoire in the backround.

Bird perched on the top of the tree with Mont Sainte Victoire in the backround.

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The studio where he used to have a view of the mountain as well. We were not allowed to photograph inside but I was mesmerized by his hat, black coat, and his smock which were all there on a coat rack. Also his many still life objects were all in the room. Fascinating to be in a place where so many beautiful impressionist paintings were inspired and created.

The studio where he used to have a view of the mountain as well. We were not allowed to photograph inside but I was mesmerized by his hat, black coat, and his smock which were all there on a coat rack. Also his many still life objects were all in the room. Fascinating to be in a place where so many beautiful impressionist paintings were inspired and created.

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Handle from the gate to enter the atelier gardens.

Handle from the gate to enter the atelier gardens.

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Cezanne's Family Home

Cezanne’s Family Home

Back View

Back View

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Descendents of Ducks that once bathed in the reflection pool when Cezanne lived there?

Descendents of Ducks that once bathed in the reflection pool when Cezanne lived there?

This sculpture has been in many of his paintings

This sculpture has been in many of his paintings

Our Week in Provence (Day One) – Aix en Provence

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We just returned from a trip of a lifetime in the beautiful countryside of the south of France- Provence. My husband Steve and I vacationed with our good friends Lori and Steve to celebrate Lori’s 50th birthday. We enjoyed every moment of our Tauck Culturious Tour and the accomodations, the excursions and the culinary delights were spectacular. I shot over 900 photographs and while I will not share all of them. It was hard to edit which ones I would share. So I thought it best to post a few each day.

We arrived a day earlier than the tour to relax and explore Aix on our own. Here are a few shots from our day of exploring…

Breakfast was served every morning here in this gorgeous dining room of Le Pigonnet.

Breakfast was served every morning here in this gorgeous dining room of Le Pigonnet.

Or if you would rather have it served to you in your room...

Or if you would rather have it served to you in your room…

Or if you would prefer have your delicious croissants and espresso served in these gorgeous gardens in the backyard of Le Pigonnet.

Or if you would prefer have your delicious croissants and espresso served in these gorgeous gardens in the backyard of Le Pigonnet.

Saturday is Market Day in Aix. Ooh la la.

Saturday is Market Day in Aix. Ooh la la.

Herbs de Provence at the Market

Herbs de Provence at the Market

Or whatever type of herb you desire is available here.

Or whatever type of herb you desire is available here.

We spotted this lovely couple strolling along holding hands.

We spotted this lovely couple strolling along holding hands.

couldn't resist this shot... so adorable. Look how his outfit matches his tricycle.

couldn’t resist this shot… so adorable. Look how his outfit matches his tricycle.

Leaving or entering the city you will be greeted by this wonderful monument, a carousel and a large fountain.

Leaving or entering the city you will be greeted by this wonderful monument, a carousel and a large fountain.

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Feeling vs. Thinking

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The importance of “seeing” to the creative process and allowing your brain to empty to see everything. Maira Kalman’s illustration work is extraordinary and her thought process is spot on.

From Paper 53 to Metal

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I have a fun new obsession that I must share with other designers. It’s a fairly new app for the ipad called Paper 53. It was named app of the year recently and I can totally see why and as soon as you start playing around with it you will also see how great it is.

I have been using Paper 53 for sketching and painting jewelry designs. It’s so much easier than mixing up paints and cleaning brushes as I’ve done in the past. Plus, I can do it while I’m having my morning coffee, while on an airplane, while I’m waiting for an appointment or even at bedtime. You don’t even need a wifi connection to use it, so even better.

The basic app is free but you probably want to upgrade the tools and palettes and that is around $10. — so very worth it. Also you will probably want to buy a stylus for around $20. to be more precise in your drawing than using your finger.

Look at all the money you are saving on paper, paints, and just think of all the trees that will be saved. Plus no more clean up and searching through sketch books to find your old drawings. You have all the sketch books right there at your disposal. Do I sound like a commercial yet… I am having so much fun with this app I feel like a kid with a new toy.

Here are some examples of my sketches and then the actual finished jewelry… If you would like to find out more about the actual pieces if you click on them there is a link to my Etsy page.

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