France: The List.

In my last post I talked about the art workshop that I will be co-hosting in Provence along with artists Kirsten Stingle and Lynn Leahy.  With no further ado, here’s a sampling of what will be keeping us busy while we’re staying in lovely, amazing, heavenly Provence.

The villa where the workshop will be held is near Arles.  Alas, there’s not enough room in the villa itself for a giant slumber party with strangers-about-to-become-friends, but there is a plethora of lodging in the surrounding areas, mostly of the charming little Mom and Pop sort that I love so much.  A list of possible lodging will follow soon, but for now, here’s the skinny on the potential adventures that await (PLEASE NOTE: subject to change based on weather, time, how much fun we’re having, etc., Please view this list as suggestions and goals.  We will firm up an actual itinerary as the time grows closer).

We intend to spend half our time out on adventures in France and half in on adventures in art.

Art Workshop with Kirsten Stingle and Lynn Leahy:  Mixed Media Techniques to create a narrative memory box out of a painter’s case.  More on these ladies and what they’ll be teaching soon!

Adventures, led by Merideth Wright:

  • Isle sur la Sorgue– A flea market town for antiques and other treasures.  I’ve actually only ever driven by here- I always seem to be with men when I’m here, and at least the ones in my life are rather useless when it comes to brocante shopping.
  • Fontaine de Vaucluse– An underground river whose source has eluded even the great Jacques Cousteau.  Glassmaking and Papermaking studios located here.
  • Les Baux – Officially voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, Les Baux is actually a large stone fortress perched atop a mountain and surrounded by a charming little village.
  • St. Remy– one of my favorite towns in Provence.  So much is here- from the sanatorium where Van Gogh stayed to an ancient Roman ruin called Glanum.  Also, it happens to be where one of my favorite markets happens AND is just an amazingly chic and beautiful town.  This was my go-to city when I wanted to escape
  • Carcassonne – A UNESCO world heritage site; a walled city; in short, a must-see.  Funny story about Carcassonne:  years ago, when I was working in France, my husband and I wanted to see Carcassonne and thus drove to what we thought was the city of Carcassonne (this was pre-GPS, y’all) and found instead a pretty yet unremarkable little village… for years we wondered what the big deal was about the place.  Until we took the kids back to the ACTUAL Carcassonne, and found out that yes, indeed, the place is a big deal.  A really, really big deal.
  • Pont du Gard – Intact, gorgeous Roman aqueduct over a picturesque river.  Yet Another UNESCO site, as well as one of the most visited sites in France.
  • Cassis – Ah, Cassis.  Such fond memories of this charming little town, perched on the edge of the Mediterranean.  Tried my first, and last, sea urchin here… Known for its beautiful calanques, which are sort of like fjords, on the Mediterranean.
  • Arles – There is so, so much to Arles, from its Roman arena to the cafe where Van Gogh painted his famous “Cafe de Nuit.”  Think “Van Gogh Walking Tour…”  Oh.  Yes.
  • Various market days in surrounding areas.  I get a little crazy about my markets.  Seriously.  I do.
  • Moustiers Ste Marie – This town is a little further from where we’ll be staying, but so worth the longer drive. The entire place is about handmade faience, a type of pottery, and they do it beautifully.
  • Abbaye de Senanque –  So beautiful that I almost don’t have words for it.  It’s a working monastery that does a sung vespers each evening that makes you feel like you’ve entered another world.  A calmer, more peaceful one of old stones and lavender fields and quiet chanting…  I am drawn to places like this, as you can see here.
  • Gordes – Located near l’Abbaye de Sénanque, a charming little village perched atop a mountain that has become a favorite, apparently, of the “in” crowd because it’s just so pretty.
  • Roussillon – Roussillon is a beautiful little town sitting atop one of the largest ochre deposits in the world, and everything about this little place shows that- the colors of the buildings are what make it so unique.  What the heck is ochre, you say?  It’s a mineral that colors many, many pigments, especially yellows, which leads me back again to Van Gogh…

Opening Dinner at Le Vallon de Gayet, a family owned hotel and restaurant located in Mouries, France.  I’m dreaming already of their steak au poivre with a salad of roasted peppers drizzled with locally produced olive oil, with a bottle of locally produced wine… and a chocolat liegeois for dessert!

I highly, highly recommend building in a little time on the back end (or front end, for that matter) to explore further anything that you just didn’t get enough of or that we just didn’t get to.  This is such an incredible part of France and of the world!





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