Tour France; Bliss Travels is the Feature Article in France Passion Magazine!


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Bliss Travels is so pleased to be featured on the front page of this luxury editorial magazine, which is owned and operated by the French Tourism Bureau! Read the rest of the article right here and get inspired by the author’s musings about our “insider” Provence travel experiences.

One of the first bulls to run free in the square on Bastille Day.

One of the first bulls to run free in the square on Bastille Day weekend. And that’s “no bull”!

One of our favorite meals is outside at a farm overlooking the Luberon valley!

One of our favorite meals is outside at a farm overlooking the Luberon valley!

Bliss clients also enjoyed a beautiful late lunch just outside of van Gogh's Provencal sanitorium.

Bliss clients also enjoyed a beautiful late lunch in a private walled garden in St Remy before joining the public festivities and visiting Van Gogh’s Provencal sanitorium.

We are so excited about our Provence trips this summer. Enjoy 5 nights in the stunning Luberon region of Provence having the benefit of our exclusive access, and then live it up for 3 nights of festival activities or along the Mediterranean staring at the crystal clear water. Enjoy fireworks, bull fights, running of the bulls through the streets, community dances and markets. In addition to the special festival events, this  sophisticated town is home to an archeological dig, Roman ruins,Van Gogh’s residence, as well as wonderful boutiques, museums, galleries and sights. Not to mention an abundance of specialty wines and gourmet meals!

Our summer trips to Provence are some of our favorites for a reason. Come tour France with an insider!

A bientot,

Bliss Travels

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Tour France: Provence is “heaven on earth”

In the New York Times article “Steal My Vacation: Norma Kamali’s Provence” , renowned fashion designer and dedicated olive oil conoisseur Kamali extols the wonders of Provence. She mentioned that “If there was a description of what heaven looks like, I would say this is it.” Tell us something we don’t know!

The lavender fields of Provence smell as beautiful as they look!

The lavender fields of Provence smell as beautiful as they look!

Thankfully, Provence isn’t only visited for its (admittedly fantastic) olive oil orchards. Bakeries, farms, ancient ruins, resplendent cathedrals, and warm locals all beckon people from across the world to take a break underneath its spotless blue sky. It is one of the best places to visit in France! Period! Oh, and what about the wines? Chateauneuf du Pape wines, Cote du Rhones, Bandols….and Rose of all shades.

Provence is completely unique, with a relaxed pace that stems from each easy moment. The cicadas chirping in an ancient olive orchard, a secluded lavender field heated by the sun, and an incredible dinner made from fresh ingredients bought at that morning’s market. It is a retreat from stress, and a voyage into “bliss“. Parfait!

The list of our favorite places to visit in Provence could go for days. Luckily, Bliss Travels creates small group custom vacations in Provence at several points throughout the year, in MayJune, July, August, and October, so you can come up with your own list of favorites!  And do it with an insider. Exclusive access is the best part of what we do. (See what our clients say about that.) Escape to your own “heaven on earth” with us to see what Norma Kamali and the New York Times are raving about.

A bientot-

Bliss Travels

Check out some photos of our previous trips to Provence below!

Provence offers divine meals with incomparably fresh ingredients.

Provence offers divine meals with incomparably fresh ingredients.

Every corner offers a new view to take your breath away.

Every corner offers a new view to take your breath away.

Hiking to the Ancient cathedral on top of a perched village was one of the group's favorite moments in July!

Hiking to the ancient church on top of a 1000+ year old perched village was one of this group’s favorite moments in July!

Olive orchards are around every corner

Olive orchards are around every corner

Our clients loved to stop in the lavender fields when we passed them!

some very special return clients on an awesome trip. Summer is the time that everyone loves to stop in the lavender fields. We pass tons!

Our October trip also features professional photography lessons!

Our October and May (for poppies) trip also feature professional photography for those who want to capture the beauty. Poppy fields are astounding

Tour France; A Michelin-Starred Evening

Bliss Clients Create their Own Gourmet Meal

The chef shows us the ropes

The chef shows us the ropes

One thing Bliss Travels prides itself on is giving our clients unique insider experiences on our journeys through France, Spain, and Belgium. Since we customize each trip to suit the interests of the group, these experiences are always a little different. From private wine tastings in 800 year old cellars in Burgundy, to painting lessons in the lavender fields of Provence with a professional artist, to private tours of the Sagrada Familia Basilica of Barcelona with a seasoned art specialist as your guide, Bliss always leaves you with unforgettable memories.

Clients working hard for the perfect meal

Clients working hard for the perfect meal

For our clients touring France this May, this proved to be exactly the case! On our journey through Provence, this group of foodies were taken to a renowned restaurant to meet the head chef, a Michelin-starred creative genius and enthusiastic lover of cuisine. But of course things didn’t end there. The head chef led the group to the restaurant’s kitchen for a private cooking lesson, where they chopped, sautéed, and laughed their way to a gourmet meal.

You can practically smell it from here!

You can practically smell the ripe melon it from here!

Under the guidance of the engaging chef, who is also a TV personality here, the meal came out stunningly. It was promptly enjoyed with bottles of local wine hand picked by Bliss (Who turns down a local wine when the area includes Chateauneuf du Pape and the other great Cote du Rhone wines?)  Of course, it’s not all food and wine. It’s also a great (and small) group of eight fun loving, interesting people that make these sorts of events a success. And this group laughed and enjoyed themselves late into the night.

Pure Bliss? We would say so. Come tour France with us and decide what your next adventure will be!

A Bientot!

Bliss Travels

Tour France: Traditional Provencal Foods, The Aioli

Tour France: Traditional Provencal Foods, The Aioli

Tour France: Vacations in Provence and the Mediterranean

One of the best warm weather traditional Provencal dishes is the Aioli. Named after the garlic mayonnaise like sauce used as the centerpiece of the dish (the word Aioli comes from the words for ‘garlic’ and ‘oil’), this is quintessential Provencal fare. It has it’s roots, like many dishes of that region, in Roman times. It has been revered as a symbol of Provencal life for hundreds of years.

 

“Among the peoples living around the Mediterranean coasts, the use of garlic dates back to the very beginning of cooking itself. But as Leon Daudet observed, with the aioli it attained its peak of perfection, ‘the very highest degree of those truly civilized customs and habits that until health with well-being.’ So that we need feel no astonishment at learning that when the poet Mistral founded a Provencal newspaper (this was in 1891), he called it L’Aioli. The sauce had become a symbol. And he wrote of it with justice: ‘It concentrates all the warmth, the strength, the sun-loving gaiety of Provence in its essence, but it also has a particular virtue: it keeps flies away. Those who don’t like it, those whose stomachs rise at the thought of our oil, won’t come buzzing around us wasting our time. There’ll just be the family.’ And elsewhere again: ‘The ailoi goes slightly to the head, impregnates the body with its warmth, and bathes the soul with its enthusiasm…”
—The Hundred Glories of French Cooking, Robert Courtine [Farrar, Strause and Giroux:New York] 1973 (p. 137-140) 
[NOTE: This book offers a recipe for Aioli de Morue. We can scan/send if you like.]

another home made aioli served with tapenade

It’s served every Friday at the local cafe (because the fish monger comes on Fridays, and that’s the day of the Provencal market). It’s served at group meals –those community meals offered at village fetes and fares during the spring and summer months. This dish is a market fresh favorite.

There are many variations, but the mainstays are this:

Aioli sauce (recipes below)

Hard boiled egg

Boiled potato

Haricots verts (the thin French green beans)

Tomato (raw)

and steamed cod.

Then, the other items you might see are:

sea snails

cauliflower

zucchini

artichoke

mussels (along the Mediterranean)

 

Everything is served room temperature (unless you have steamed mussels, which of course, are served warm). The sauce is cold. You dip each item in the sauce to flavor it.

How to make a quick and simple Aioli:

Take mayonnaise (1/2 cup) and mixed with crushed garlic clove (4-6), a squeeze of lemon, a few tablespoons of white wine (you can determine how thick or thin you want the sauce by how much wine you use), sea salt –and optional flavors such as saffron or herbs de Provence.

Mix well, cover tightly and let sit for at least 3-4 hours. Best if left overnight to allow the flavors to meld.

For a traditional Aioli, this is what Escoffier says:

 

[1907]
“Aioli, or Beurre de Provence
. Pound 30 g (1 oz) garlic as finely as possible in the mortar, add 1 raw egg yolk and a pinch of salt and gradually mix in 1 1/2 dl (9 fl oz or 1 1/8 U.S. cup) oil allowing it to fall drop by drop to begin with, then faster as a thread as the sauce begins to thicken. The thickening of the sauce takes place by turning the pestle vigorously whilst adding the oil. The consistency of the sauce should be adjusted during its making by adding the juice of 1 lemon and 1;2 tbs cold water little by little. Note: Should the sauce separate it can be reconstituted by working it into 1 egg yolk as for Mayonnaise.”
Le Guide Cuilinaire, Escoffier, first translation into English by H.L. Cracknell & R.J. Kaufmann, 1907 edition [John Wiley:New York] 1979 (p. 29)

As the spring and summer seasons in Provence swing into action, you can be sure that people will be dining on Aioli, sipping rose, and enjoying the sunshine.  It’s Bliss!

Hope to see you there!

Wendy Jaeger

Owner, Bliss Travels

Tour France: French Wedding Style Mythbusters Blog about Bliss Travels

French Wedding Style, the premier wedding blog, just posted an interview with Bliss Travels! Fact vs. fiction. How easy (or hard) is it to have your event in France? Well, read French Wedding Style’s article and find out! Whether proposing, marrying or honeymooning in romantic Paris or dreamy Provence, your trip will be full of Bliss!

 

Destination Wedding Mythbusters

It is part The Discovery Channel on the blog today, as Wendy Jaeger from Bliss Travels hosts a Destination Wedding Mythbusters and explores the commonly held myths surround planning a wedding abroad. Roll titles and over to Wendy:

Many couples want to have a wedding in a place imbued with timeless romance and France is the ideal solution with picturesque Provence and what could be more romantic than a wedding in Paris?  However many couples are often put off by widely held myths surrounding planning a wedding abroad and this is what we are going to explore today!

Myth 1: Destination Weddings are more expensive than domestic weddings

The average cost for a wedding in the United States is $26,542.00, which doesn’t include the honeymoon. The average honeymoon price is between $5,200-$10,000 for international travellers (depending upon whether you choose a luxury or standard honeymoon).

Destination weddings offer you the opportunity to combine wedding and honeymoon in ways that are very cost effective….And allow you to make your special day a truly unique and memorable experience. Elopements to Paris range from $10,000 to $20,000 and include the ceremony, reception, hotel, meals and “a honeymoon”.

wedding in paris

And, where else can you get a background filled with jaw dropping beauty and world class sites? Champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower? Check! Romantic photos by the Seine river? Check! French pastries and great wines? Check!

But, it’s not just about money! It’s about the most important day of your life.

 

Myth 2: Destination Weddings are more complicated than domestic weddings

Destination weddings present wonderful opportunities to make your wedding day about you and your love for each other, without the confines of the wedding traditions at home.

People often think that these events are impossible and difficult to plan because of the distance. Like any wedding they take planning, but they can be made simpler by using a wedding planning service.  Following the initial brief with you, Bliss Travelscan do everything for you, designing your unique wedding weekend or week AND make it happen.

destination wedding

Destination weddings can enable a couple to escape the clutter of daily life, leaving the minutia behind, so you can focus on the most important thing: Your partner and your ceremony!

Myth 3: You must either celebrate at home (with family and friends) or abroad, and miss out on family and friends

Not so! You can eat your croquembouche and have it too!

Certainly, you may have a few people who wish to travel with you.  But, even if that’s not possible, it’s still possible to share your special day with your loved ones.Bliss work with several photography partners who create DVD slideshows of your ceremony and entire weekend/week as well as video of your ceremony. These are edited, set to music, and presented to you soon after your ceremony. Thus, when you get home Bliss can arrange a champagne reception for your family and friends where your guests get to view your special event!

wedding food france

Myth 4: Destination weddings follow a cookie cutter format

By nature some destination wedding packages do follow a cookie cutter, specific style format, but Bliss aims to create a wedding that is personal to you.

Whether you are looking for a chic intimate Paris wedding or a casual and relaxed rustic countryside wedding in Provence, your wedding day should be about you and your fiancé, your style, your taste and your wedding adventure.  Also your budget as weddings can cost (for a day long event, lodging overnight, music, and the meal with wines) less than 150 Euros per person  –not including travel expenses.

wedding provence

So there we go Destination Wedding Myths – Busted!

Roll credits

Find out more about Bliss Travels at www.blisstravels.com. Bliss has some availability in March between 23-28, and April 12-14, as well as June and beginning of July. These can be combined with honeymoons or attendance on one of our trips. When booking both, there is a discount.

Any other wedding myths that you want to suggest to be examined??

Monique xx

Tour France: Extraordinary Dining in France

Extraordinary Dining in France

I’ll bet you think this article is about the best tip top Michelin starred eateries….Well, you are partly right. Or maybe it’s about those little “off the beaten track” bistros that many great chefs are defecting to? Also, partly right. Or do you think it’s about the market streets…yep, just a little. Mostly, it’s about the special sort of balance you need in order to get the most out of your trip to a culinary Nirvana. So, even if you don’t travel with us, you can experience your own little bit of Bliss! So let me quote a great article by Moshulu:

“Eating done, what a pleasure it is to sit back comfortably, cradling a last glass of Jurancon (not too sweet, slightly bitter, slightly resinous), thinking about how good life is, and how silly people are. For example (and no offence!) why is it that The Chowhound Team continues to conflate “chow” with “food”, and “eating” with “dining”? Or why do so many Paris-bound chowhounds laboriously compile and post lists of restaurants, hoping to stuff themselves into a stupor throughout every moment that they are here? It’s just like being one of those manic tourists who rush through the Louvre making sure that nothing escapes them (Michelangelo? check!, Rubens? check!, Leonardo?, check!). It makes no sense. A gastronomic romp in Paris should be a quietly composed, elegant sonata, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Or maybe a tasteful country bouquet with just the right combination of colors, textures and smells. It should consist of a few choice selections from a palette that includes, among others, a neighborhood bistrot, a noisy brasserie, a simple fish place, a temple of “haute bourgeoisie” cuisine, a creperie, and (why not?) one of those phantasmagorical Senderens/Ducasse/Robuchon affairs. Each should be savoured for what it is, not checked off some list on the way to the next Michelin-rated clone. A quiet dinner… is like lingering for an hour in the Louvre’s Palissy room, grateful that someone once made such extraordinary efforts on one’s own behalf. And thankful that a few good restaurants still survive in Paris, even in the sixteenth arrondissement’s frigid, stony heart.”

If you eat at 3 star Michelin’s every day you will become numb. (And, not insignificantly, so full, you will not be able to move). If you go to Paris and eat nothing but crepes, quiche, croque monsieur or baguettes you will miss experiencing true culinary genius –and believe me, what passes in Paris (and other parts of France) for a nice quality bistro meal, is probably better than anything you’ve eaten anywhere else. (Yes, I’m talking to you foodies too. It’s just not possible to replicate terroir and the treatment that food gets as art in France). And, if you approach both food and art the same way, you will have a sensual and satisfying experience all around.

Mix it up…You’ve got to. The concept of courses at meals –not just giant plates of one thing is the same concept. You must have a little bit of a wide variety of foods. Your palate doesn’t become desensitized. Your body needs food that way. And the food is interesting, and your dining is mindful. Eating the same foods (high end or low end) every day on vacation is the same as eating a giant bag of chips in front of the TV. You stop tasting it. It’s just mindless repetition. But, when you switch it up –country lunch outdoors, gourmet tasting menu for dinner, cheese and baguette by a river bank, market fresh bistro –you magnify each experience, not just one of the experiences.


So, this is about balance. The idea for writing this article came from the above review. It so beautifully described how to have a top level culinary week, that I thought I’d excerpt it below and add one final point –yes, I know I make this same point a lot. Famous places can be great. Some restaurants are even famous because they are great. But, fame changes all but the most careful places (much like it changes all but the most grounded people). Thus, guidebooks and celebrities can help you find certain sorts of experiences. But, they likely won’t be unique or unspoiled. For that you must get “insider info” and go “off the beaten track”.

If you want to dine with Bliss, or come on one of our culinary trips, please contact us. All of our Spring and Summer trips can be found on our website, where you will also find our testimonials. Every one of our trips takes this approach to food. Our fall trips to Burgundy and Provence are pre booking and will be posted soon.

So, how about some coffee before you get up?

A bientot,

Wendy Jaeger –owner, Bliss Travels

Tour France: Food & Wine Vacations are Bliss!

Some places are extraordinary. Some meals are as well. It’s that magical combination of place, ambiance, warm welcome, specialty cuisine and company that makes these places pure Bliss! 

Of course, getting there is also half the fun. 

The wines were all Chateauneuf du Pape. Chateau La Nerthe 2009 white and red. The white was among the best I’ve every had.

An amuse bouche of eggs. The eggs in Provence are different (yes, even if you eat free range, farm eggs in the US. They are not the same.)

A lasagne of vegetables topped with girolles mushrooms was as tasty as it was healthy and beautiful.

An absolutely marvelous variation on the theme of Bouillabaisse. Truly memorable. A saffron fish broth held the freshest poached fish –not overly cooked–and still succulent and tender — with a saffron aioli and a tapenade crouton. This dish was a trip highlight and one we will make at home –that’s a promise. When the recipe is worked out Bliss Travels will share it.
Scallops in a lemongrass and leek broth…another “keeper”.

The requisite chocolate, salted caramel with dark chocolate and hazelnut was as good as it looked, but the real surprise was the Grand Marnier poached pear with orange and a four grain tulle. A truly superlative example of what fresh fruit can become in the hands of a master chef!

Experience Bliss with us. Contact us when you are ready to have this sort of vacation.