Saignon—Unspoiled and Stunning Hilltop Village

IMG_0057

The tranquil village of Saignon, perched high on a hill above the village of Apt, is a quintessential, sleepy French village. From the narrow, winding streets making their way past colorful shutters, intricate doorways, gorgeous fountains, an ancient lavoir (washhouse) to the rock of Saignon high above, this beautiful village is definitely worth a visit. We stayed here on our first visit to Provence and now must return every time to stroll these picture-perfect streets and to relax in the tranquility that this village has to offer.

IMG_0022

The scenery surrounding Saignon is stunning, especially if one is so fortunate to be here when the lavender is in bloom. Toward the end of June, lavender is in bloom. But I can only imagine what July brings at its peak. Lavender or not, the surroundings are beautiful.

DSC05046

IMG_0860

One of the interesting things to do here is walk up the steep stone steps to le Rocher de Bellevue (the rock of Saignon) to take in the outstanding panorama of the Luberon Valley.

Chez Christine, a café near the upper parking lot, is a great spot to relax under the shade of a plane tree with a glass of rosé or to enjoy a simple lunch of quiche and salad while getting a taste of village life.

On Thursday morning, there is a small organic fruit and vegetable market held in the village. And on Saturday morning, one of the best of the best is held in Apt, just a few minutes below the village.

IMG_0184

When picking a vacation rental in Provence, there are so many wonderful villages to choose from. Saignon is quite high on the list as a perfect French village when it comes to peace, quiet, outstanding views, charm, and location.

À bientôt!

A Taste of Provence Back Home

IMG_0487

Oh, the thought of being in Provence right now with the awakening of spring, the warmer, sunny days, the flowers, the blossoming trees, the Provençal markets coming alive. My favorite expat bloggers are just killing me right now with their photos of Provence in the spring!

So I wanted to create a little connection with Provence right here, back home. I wanted to find a little taste of Provence in my own backyard. And I found it! Just eight minutes away, there is a wonderful organic farm that reminds me of France. Though it’s not a Provençal market, it has the flavor, the atmosphere, the character. Just seeing these beautiful radishes and carrots from the local farm brought such delight—treasures grown from the earth.

IMG_0492

And then I found a form of lavender that can grow here in upstate New York. I just look at my lavender and feel so happy.

IMG_0481

IMG_0397This is why I love France so much. It’s the simple pleasures that we all long for. It’s the food, the wine, a good meal with friends. I’d take that over diamonds any day.

À bientôt!

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois—Fairy-tale Burgundy

116One of the things that adds to the romantic charm of Burgundy is the 150-mile-long Canal de Bourgogne, which winds its way from one village to the next. It’s hard to find a more storybook village than Châteauneuf with its enchanting château perched high on a hill overlooking the canal below. This is a must see village on a trip to Burgundy.

110

There is nothing more relaxing than trekking along the towpath, where there are abundant opportunities to stop and have a picnic or enjoy a glass of Bourgogne vin blanc or vin rouge—special moments that stay with you forever.

It was an overcast, misty day in the month of October when we last visited Châteaneuf. This just added to the mystery of the medieval village and beckoned us to take cover in the village crêperie called L’Orée du Bois. Burgundy is not too touristy in general, but we basically had the whole village as well as the crêperie to ourselves that day.

099

105

Hope you get to journey to Châteauneuf-en-Auxois one day and discover the rustic, country charm of Burgundy.

À bientôt!

Is It Burgundy, or Is It the Alsace?

IMG_1925

Actually, it’s Germany! A few years back, we had a chance to spend a week in the Mosel (or Moselle) Valley in Germany after attending a convention in Frankfurt. We had six free days before returning home and chose the Mosel for our escape. Being that it was Europe, naturally we found charm and character and adorable villages everywhere.

While the Mosel didn’t have as much charm as Burgundy or the Alsace, we enjoyed ourselves indeed! The vineyards are the steepest vineyards in the world. And the fresh Rieslings were delightful. In fact, the family we were renting from were winemakers and had an ample supply on hand that we could help ourselves to.

My two favorite villages were Bernkastel-Kues and Beilstein, the Sleeping Beauty of the Mosel. Both villages were loaded with character and, need I say it, charm for days. We so enjoyed riding our bikes past the adorable villages and stopping off for a bottle of Riesling at the most elegant wine café right along the bike path. That’s right! We ordered a bottle, not a glass. Because that’s just what you do in this fairy-tale part of the world.

IMG_1884

The mushrooms were in season and served with the regional dishes. I remember those mushrooms—delicious! Our fondest dining experience was found while traveling a remote road searching for the Eltz Castle. We came across a little family-run inn called Landgasthof Pyrmonter Mühle, which was right beside a small waterfall. We knew this was a find and waited for it to open for lunch, knowing this would be a special place.

While the Mosel didn’t capture my heart quite like France—which is hard for me to understand based on the pictures—it remains with me forever.

À bientöt!

Séguret—A Jewel of the Rhône Valley

IMG_1075

The village of Séguret is visually stunning in every way. It’s the prettiest Provençal village I have encountered thus far. It certainly gives my favorite, Joucas, a run for its money. This charming jewel of a village is filled with colorful flowers and crazy charm around every bend of its winding cobblestone streets. It certainly earns its classification as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Thus, I had to label it “Flavignesque” in honor of my Bourgogne favorite.

IMG_1070

IMG_1049

From the moment we arrived in the village, I was completely immersed, camera in hand, exploring every street while my husband relaxed on a bench waiting for me to do my usual rapid exploration of every nook and cranny not wanting to miss anything.

IMG_1041

Here in Séguret, there are a few restaurants, a lovely tea salon, and a few shops to be explored. We enjoyed a casual lunch outside at the Côté Terrasse restaurant, where creative salads were being served along with the wonderful wines of the region. Naturally, we tried a Séguret Côtes du Rhône in honor of the village.

IMG_1055

To enjoy peaceful views of the countryside, there is a steep little hike that takes you above the village to the remains of a château. It probably takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. There was nothing too outstanding at the top, but it was a good way to burn off our lunch and enjoy the peace and serenity, since there was not a soul around.

A day of exploring Séguret could certainly be combined with stopping off for tastings at the nearby notable winemaking villages, such as Gigondas and Vacqueyras. I definitely have that planned for next time along with more villages of charm to be explored in the Rhône Valley.

À bientôt!

Villers-la-Faye—A “Secret” Burgundian Charm

302

There is this little village, probably known to few, that we stayed in a few years back on one of our Burgundian sojourns that is authentic Burgundy at its best. There are no shops, other than a small boulangerie and a local winemaker. There is probably no reason for any tourist to stop off here. But, oh, it’s the real thing when it comes to charm!

I remember waking up our first morning in Villers-la-Faye and leaving our adorable gite to explore the village. My first thought was, ‘I’m in a real French village!’ There was no tourism, just real French life.

IMG_0577

Our gite called la Maison de la Vielle Vigne

The most memorable thing to do in this village is to walk past the Place de la Mairie and onto the Mont Saint Victor path overlooking the most picture-postcard village of Magny-lès-Villers. Whenever we are in Burgundy, we always return to stroll this path and just sit on the bench above Magny to take it all in. The vineyards, the tractors, the rolling hills, the architecture—it’s charm for days.

291

View of Magny-lès-Villers from the Mont Saint Victor walk

More pictures overlooking Magny-lès-Villers and of charming Villers-la-Faye.

294

300

À bientôt!