Evening Ambience at Its Best at la Terrasse in Joucas

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Exciting news! Bistrot la Terrasse, located in the peaceful, charming village of Joucas in the Luberon, is once again open in the evenings for dinner. This is truly an enchanting spot to watch the sun set over the Luberon valley with the red hue of Roussillon in the distance.

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La Terrasse now has a new owner. Though we are sad to see the prior owner go, as well as our little canine friend who was always faithfully at his spot every time, we are happy to be able to enjoy this place in the evening once again.

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The food is good, basic bistrot fare. Yet, the omelette complèt with the frites is a notch above good. It is one delicious omelette!

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You can’t go wrong going for a simple meal in order to enjoy the evening ambience. Even on a hot day, if you go for lunch, there is a huge plane tree to sit under and the Provençal breeze to keep you cool while you enjoy your meal. And of course, the village of Joucas itself is a charm to wander the cobbled streets after a good meal. Apparently, according to one local, during the filming of A Good Year, Russell Crowe rented a house in the lovely Joucas because he enjoyed the peaceful village. It’s funny how every time we visit Provence, we meet someone associated with this movie. Last year it was Peter Mayle’s assistant and then a relative of Russell Crowe’s assistant during the filming of the movie. Who knows? Maybe we’ll run into the beautiful Marion Cotillard herself next time.

UPDATE:

La Terrasse in Joucas has changed! We are sad to say that we can no longer recommend this lovely place for the food, namely the omelettes that we use to dream about. Good omelettes no more! It’s still a great place to stop for a drink or perhaps, if you don’t care to be wowed by the food, a light bite in the evening to enjoy the ambience. Let’s hope the new owners bring back the good food to match the ambience. We miss the little dog too!

À bientôt!

How to Survive Provence? One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence by Keith Van Sickle

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For anyone in love with France and the idea of giving up the so-called normal to live in a charming, small French village where it really is all about the bread, the wine, and the cheese, Keith’s delightful book takes us on a humorous journey of what it really takes to make living in France—Provence—a success.

And with all the mishaps of learning a new language and trying to fit in and make friends with the locals, surely having an abundance of local French wine on hand couldn’t hurt, right? As anyone who has had the pleasure to travel to France knows, it comes with its fair share of eccentricities. For instance, as Keith states: “The French like to drive much too fast. No matter what road you are on or how fast you are driving, you can be sure that a French driver will be tailgating you. I think it is required by law. You could be setting a new land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats and if you looked in your rearview mirror you would see a French driver just inches from your tailpipe.” Isn’t that so true? And let’s not forget about the death-defying passing on the narrow, winding roads.

Or what about the simple act of buying a beard trimmer at the Intermarché? Simple not! Read Keith’s hilarious account of what one must go through just to buy a beard trimmer in France.

So many eccentricities. Yet, we all keep coming back for more. More of, as Keith puts it, the joie de vivre. Yes, the slow pace, a simpler life that revolves around which type of bread to pick out for the day from the boulangerie and which vegetables to choose from the outdoor market.

Escape with Keith, his wife, Val, and their dog Lucca as these part-time expats from Silicon Valley take us on a comical tale of immersing oneself in the French language and Provençal culture as they learn to live in Provence One Sip at a Time.

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Available here at Amazon.

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For more wonderful stories from Keith, read more at http://www.keithvansickle.com.

Cassis: The Charm of a Bygone Era

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“He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing.”—Frédéric Mistral; Provençal writer and poet and 1904 Nobel Prize winner in literature.

In just under two hours from our peaceful Vaucluse department in Provence, we arrive at the top of Cassis. Upon exiting our car and breathing in the fresh sea air, we realize that we have arrived at a special place. Our first thought is ‘Why haven’t we come sooner?’ As we make our way down to the village, we are swept away by a sight we did not expect— charming villas surrounded by cascading flowers and cliffs towering over the lapis-blue sea. This characterful fishing port indeed has the charm of a bygone era, a place of refined elegance by the sea.

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Having just the day to get a taste of Cassis, we planned to hike the calanques, beautiful fjord-like inlets carved into the limestone cliffs. Our goal was at least to hike to the second calanque, called Port Pin, to swim in the gorgeous sea. Starting at the harbor, where we could have just enjoyed the beauty there and been fully satisfied, we started our walk to the first calanque, Port Miou. Now this was supposed to be just a 30-minute walk from the harbor. But being the geniuses that we are, we somehow got off the route and didn’t make it to Port Miou until an hour and a half later on a sultry day of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35°C).

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Nervous to continue on one hour more to the second calanque, Port Pin, because of ankle and foot issues, we had to turn back. Next time, the plan is to drive up the Route des Calanques from the harbor and try to find a place to park on a side street not far from Port Miou or in one of the car parks mentioned on the Calanques in Cassis site to save time. It was disheartening to have to turn back, especially as we saw a large group of “older” ones returning with their hiking boots and walking poles.

Nonetheless, we went back to the harbor and relaxed with a plate of moules-frites as we watched some locals enjoying a game of boules. This is the type of scene that speaks French village to me and just charms my heart.

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The inner streets of Cassis are well worth exploring as they are filled with high-quality shops and restaurants with a bit of an Italian flair.

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We have seen Paris, and now we have seen Cassis. A place we hope to return to again and again.

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À bientôt!