The Good Life



I haven't been too well the last few days, either I ate something bad or caught a bug. Bad timing considering I have just started a new freelance job and have to move out of my studio this weekend. We are frantically looking and haven't found anything yet. Funny how things always happen at once! Yesterday was also the official start of autumn, and like clockwork the temperature suddenly dropped in Paris (I'm currently sat inside with a big woolly on, as it seems a little ridiculous to put the heating on now!) So I'd thought I'd share some more photos from my travels, which are a little warmer and more cheerful than what I'm feeling right now.

I took these whilst staying in Gordes at the Mas de la Baume, a beautiful bed and breakfast, with a pool and view across the street of the village (just don't go for the cheapest room, if you want a door on your bathroom. Not ideal if you want a little privacy...!)

While we stayed in Provence we also drove to the pretty village of Gigondas, known for its exceptional wine for a little wine-tasting. So we did just that and didn't leave empty handed! Hope you like the photos! 







Provence: Roussillon

It doesn't get much prettier than this place. The Provence village of

Roussillon

is built atop an old ochre quarry, which is where most of the buildings and cobbled streets get their beautiful rust colour from. Pair that with blue, green and yellow shutters and you've got a fairy tale of a place filled with ice-cream colours - the houses do look good enough to eat. 

Our trusty Lonely Planet recommended we get there early or late to avoid the midday crowds, so we arrived around 5pm, which was spot on. The main streets were still quite filled, but when we wandered off into the hidden streets and alleyways, we almost felt alone. We didn't venture into the quarry as I stupidly wore a white vintage skirt and espadrilles, but for a nominal fee you can explore it on foot; the shortest track is around half an hour.  

Market Day in Gordes

Perched on top of a hill in Luberon, Provence, Gordes is by far one of the prettiest villages I've ever visited. I've been wanting to go ever since I saw Russell Crowe trying to woo Marion Cotillard in her cafe, in

A Good Year

(yes I'm a sucker for romance, especially in the French countryside). Luckily we arrived just in time for market day, which is every Tuesday. 

We had the loveliest meal at

Marianna's

 on Monday night. (A little Italian restaurant owned by a Sicilian native - all the food is cooked by her in a tiny kitchen and is the tastiest Italian food I've eaten outside of Italy.) The restaurants are pricey in Gordes and generally very touristy looking, we chanced upon this one and got lucky - there are only a few tables so I'd suggest booking! We woke up early-ish on Tuesday and walked over to the village where the market was already heaving with people. As expected the main customers were tourists and a lot of stalls cater for them, but there are still some traditional stalls selling handmade soap, herbs, peppers, jams, cured meats and bread. We bought some herbs, jam and a string of red peppers for our future kitchen in Paris. Have you been to Gordes? Hope you like the photos! 

Summer in the south

Paris in August is an eerie place. Shops, cafes and restaurants shut, sometimes for the entire month. Residents vacate the city, leaving only a few locals who blissfully enjoy the calm streets and baffled tourists trying to find somewhere decent to eat. 

So unless you're on holiday too, it's a good time for weekends away. Our friends parents have a beautiful house in the south of France, so we drove there on Friday night. The first part of the journey was through a raging storm that seemed to dump its anger on us, until we were 3 hours away from Paris when suddenly the skies cleared, a rainbow appeared and the temperature rose 10 degrees. Bliss.

We spent our time eating good, fresh food, basking in the sunshine, lying by the pool, playing table tennis, badminton and petanque (had to work off the mountains of baguettes, butter and fig jam I was scoffing every morning), swimming in the

Ard

è

che

river (highly recommended if you get the chance) and exploring

Aigu

è

ze

, one of the Plus Beaux Villages of France. Afraid I only took a few photos, as I was trying to relax (of course the fact that I'm posting these photos kind of undermines that I guess...) Hope you like them anyway. 

A Day Trip to Chateau de Chantilly



I took a little day trip to Chateau de Chantilly yesterday with friends, to take advantage of the glorious sunshine and have a picnic with a view. After visiting the Chateau, which is like a mini Versailles and a lot less touristy, we whiled away a few hours in the grounds having a picnic and napping in the sun. The perfect Sunday afternoon.

Chateau de Chantilly is just 20minutes on the train from Gard du Nord and walking distance from the train station. Tickets cost €14, which gives you entry to the grounds and the chateau. 

A Day Trip to Chartres


Morning! I had a pretty packed weekend, Friday was Fete de la Musique in France, so there were loads of parties happening around Paris. We went to a Hawaiian rooftop party, with all the trimmings. There was a BBQ, tropical trees, open bars served by boys clad in Hawaiian shirts, and as well as DJs on the roof, there was also one downstairs. It felt more like a club than someone's flat. On Saturday, I helped host a friend's baby shower, which involved baking in the morning, with a pretty terrible hangover (the punch was just too good) and then legging it over to her apartment to help decorate and set up. After a few hours of lots of eating, and oohing and ahhing over baby gifts, I popped home for a nap and then headed out again in the evening for her leaving do - she moved to Dubai yesterday to be with the baby's father. 

Sunday we took a day trip to Chartres, a beautiful old town just south west of Paris, famous for its 12th century UNESCO heritage gothic cathedral. I've been wanting to visit since I finished Kate Mosse's Labyrinth, which the cathedral and more importantly the labyrinth featured in. After an hour and a half drive we re-fuelled at La Picoterie creperie with some savory galettes, followed by a sweet one smothered in the most delicious salted caramel syrup. After scooping up every last drop of caramel, we ventured outside into the very un-summer blustery weather and over to the cathedral, which dominates everything in its surroundings. In fact its towering spires were the first thing we saw when we were still 20 minutes away on the motorway. They are impressive, as is the rest of the cathedral. I felt very small entering through the large wooden doors and you can practically feel the history seeping out of the stones. Inside it's beautiful, with stained glass windows and carved stone. 

There were plenty of tour guides and tourists milling about, but I did manage to take a few snaps of the labyrinth inlaid into the stone floor. Apparently on Friday the chairs had been cleared to reveal it in all its glory to celebrate the Summer Solstice, which I would have loved to have seen. After taking in the sights and sounds of the cathedral, when went back outside to find a brocante - the other reason I wanted to visit Chartres yesterday, as I knew there would be a big one happening in one of the squares. We wandered around the various antiques stalls searching for some cutlery and found a couple of old spoons, a knife and a fork that I plan to use for baking. Visiting a brocante is a good thing to do if you plan a day trip to Chartres on a Sunday as there's not a huge amount open or to do in the town besides have a nice lunch and visit the cathedral. Have a great start to the week. 

[Photography: Marissa Cox]