Tour France: Bastille Day Summer Celebrations in Paris & Provence

Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

Bastille Day celebrates the formation of the French republic and the overthrow of the French monarchy. This is traditionally symbolized by the storming of the Bastille (the Parisian prison) on July 14, 1789.  While there were many reasons for the revolution, the most well known and emblematic  is the excessive royal life that Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette led at the court of Versailles.

The pivotal moment that Bastille Day celebrates is the freeing of the prisoners from the Bastille. There were, in fact, very few prisoners in the Bastille at that time, so the significance of that event was more symbolic than actual. Each year, this holiday, much like our own July 4th, is celebrated with fireworks, parades, village festivals, huge Provencal markets, music and dances –and of course, the flying of the tri-color flag.

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The tri color flag is a reflection of the motto of the French republic: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité — liberty, equality and brotherhood. This was one of several mottos used during the time of the revolution. The Fete Nationale (National holiday) is the largest annual celebration in France.

Paris attracts huge crowds for the celebration. Pedestrians and people picnicing fill every last space on every Seine river bridge, and along the banks of the Seine. They fill the parks around the Eiffel Tower as well. It is a party that begins in the morning with parades and goes late into the night with fireworks and public balls, live music.

 As spectacular as Paris is, and as big as the celebration around the Eiffel tower is, I have to say that the countryside is even better. There you can see fireworks over 100o year old villages, experience festival markets and surround yourself with authentic  ambiance in a way that is not possible in big cities (no matter how beautiful).  The advice of Bliss Travels: Enjoy the best Medieval Provencal village or Mediterranean “fete” possible for this holiday. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and often feels like time stopped  500 years before you arrived.

There’s a reason every major impressionist and post impressionist painter traveled there to paint!

Van Gogh’s interpretations of the countryside give one a sense of what it feels like to be in that “world” over a major national holiday.
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One of our favorite places to celebrate Bastille Day is St Remy, home of Van Gogh –and setting for many of his paintings. The celebrations here include markets, fireworks, bull fights, parades and music.

The markets wind through almost all of the streets of the old village. They fill every small square, and the periphery roads as well.

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Vendors give out tastes of their products. A sure sign that they are proud of what they are selling. In addition, during the celebrations surrounding Bastille Day, there is music and street performers all over.

The bull fights that take place over the national holiday in France are a game during which the bulls are not hurt (though, often, the participants do suffer some injury). The game is called the “course camarguaise” and involves taking a rosette from the horn of the bull and getting away before the bull can hurt them. The participants leap over the wooden fence that surrounds the main area of the arena while their team mates distract the bull. There is also the herding of the bulls by the “cowboys” and the running of the bulls through the streets of the town. This is a major reason to celebrate Bastille Day in the South –these unique events simply don’t happen in Paris!

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Herding the bulls through the town. The horsemen ride practically on top of each other to keep the bulls locked in their place. Their riding skill is amazing.

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Along with the Camargue cowboys are parades on horseback with traditional dress.

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The celebrations lead to group parties and meals –the Aioli is one of the most common (and best)!

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Tour France: Vacations in Provence and the MediterraneanDSCN0867If you want to learn more about what Bliss Travels does on Bastille Day or for other summer village festivals, contact us now! Hope to see you in Provence this summer!

Tour France: 5 Tips for the Holidays in Paris, revisited!

5 Tips on How to Have it All: The Best of Being Home for the Holidays & Getting Away!

 

Reblogging last year’s tips for holiday travel

The big debate is whether to stay home for the holidays or whether to get away. You might want a homey “white Christmas” with your special dinner, relaxation, and family, friends and gifts. You may also want to get away and just take a break from it all –you know, a vacation! So, how can you have it all?

1. Go Away just before the holidays or between Christmas and New Year’s, and return home a couple days before your “family” celebration! Why not? You can get away, relax, shop in a new and exciting environment (buying truly unique gifts for your loved ones.) You can pamper yourself a bit before the (joyful) work of hosting your family, cooking the meals and cleaning up the holiday messes.

2. Bring your favorite aspects of your “at home” celebration with you when you go abroad for the holidays.That’s right. Bring some of your gifts or that homemade special treat. Or plan that favorite meal. Why not bring your empty stockings and have them filled while you’re away on your relaxing vacation! In other words, bring a little bit of “home” with you –just don’t bring the oven or the dishes!

3. Seek out some of your holiday favorites in your new destination. Do you love love love Chestnuts at Christmas time? Fine. Enjoy them locally prepared while you’re away. Do you always have hot chocolate on Christmas morning, or roast goose or 7 fishes or a special dessert on your holiday? Great! See how the locals prepare it. (I can only speak to France, but the French do all of these things extremely well. So no worries for us!)

4. Enrich your memories and experiences. Do you always take a walk? Sleep in? Go to mass? Do it somewhere else. You’ll forever say “remember that year we went to Christmas mass or took our walk…in that special vacation destination. Trust me. In the years to come, you won’t be saying –”gosh, I wish we hadn’t taken that Christmas morning walk along the Seine in 2011. Our neighborhood is so nice.” Nor will you say, “I’m so sorry we missed our local mass. Notre Dame wasn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.” You’ll be reminiscing about how lovely it was back then, and those memories will bring a smile to your face!

5. Develop new traditions while you’re abroad that you can incorporate into your future holiday celebrations. We all love our favorites. Grandma’s cookies. The roast beef or turkey dinner. But, sometimes it puts a little zing in the holidays to add something new to the mix. Maybe, while you’re away, you’ll find something new you love to do, eat, drink, see….(I sure hope so). Then, next year, you can engage in that activity at home. I have a friend who brought me some very special tea and cakes from Europe  one year. Now, we make or buy those same items each year around the holidays. Not only is it a good memory, it’s a new and special treat.

6. Enjoy the company of others. Go with a group and/or bring a loved one, or a friend, or two. It doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. You can get cozy and share a room (since you probably won’t spend much time in it anyway, or you can live it up and do something super luxe.) You can enjoy your time with the people you travel with (even kids, who everyone worries won’t travel well, do, in fact, enjoy new locations. They’re interested and entertained and just as happy as you are. I know. Really. We do it all the time.) You can even travel alone and make new friends. Our experience from our small group trips is that people truly enjoy each other’s company and often remain friends and keep in touch.

France Food Tour: This Summer’s Dining Experiences in Paris, Provence & Med

France Food Tour: This Summer’s Dining Experiences in Paris, Provence & Med   This summer provided for some interesting gourmet discoveries and some wonderful repeat experiences. Below are some of the highlights of our fine dining and country fare.  Everything from Michelin stars to picnics on the grass to lunch overlooking the Mediterranean.   First: Dining in Paris….Reach for the stars! Foie Gras with cherries and chutney. Clams…with a parmesan foam. OMG.Tomatoes with almonds over a base of mackerel seviche –before the chilled almond soup was poured on top! Pigeon with a rhubarb fruit puree…  From Paris to Provence and the Mediterranean. Fish and the freshest produce dominated those wonderful menus…

Fresh Trout pulled from the local stream and cooked at out local auberge.

Aioli –a favorite dish…cod, carrot, haricots verts, cauliflower, tomato, zucchini –and in this case, a special touch of mussels!Rouget. Another great Mediterranean specialty –seen mostly in the South of France. In this case, filets served with a variation on ratatouille.Last, but not least –fresh wood grilled sardines served with olive oil to drizzle over them, a wedge of lemon and a fresh green salad.What more could you want? Oh, that’s right….Picnics of all sorts…From the rustic but gourmet…To the impromptu apres Marche picnic on the castle grounds…To the custom dining based upon local produce… It’s absolute BLISS. Contact us now if you’d like to experience Bliss

Tour France: Gourmet Travel & Provence Picnics

Tour France: Gourmet Travel and Provencal Picnics

Warning: Drooling likely. Have snack handy.

Anyone who’s going to France is aware of the reputation France has for outstanding cuisine. The produce, the cheeses, breads, desserts, even meats are world renown. One of the single best ways to experience what France (and more specifically) Provence has to offer is to make and/or join in for a real picnic. Here are some photos of our absolute favorite picnic lunches. Some are self made. Some are offered by tiny out of the way auberges, and some are custom from our chefs. Try not to drool on your screen as you scroll through these mouthwatering treats.

Roast pork (from the farm) with rosemary potatoes, and house made goat’s cheeses

Wines, proscuitto, peppers, zucchini all made up the meal as we sat at this gorgeous mountain top locale.
Prepping for our own picnics in a local kitchen

If you’d like to experience one –or more– of these culinary fantasies, contact us now. We have ONE room left on our October Fall Foliage trip to Provence (and Chateauneuf du Pape) and we are booking rooms for next May in Provence!

Contact us now. Wendy@blisstravels.com

 

Tour Provence: Vacation in Provence in a Day!

Tour Provence: Vacation in Provence in a Day!

From the ancient ruins you can freely climb through –to photography, to hiking, to pondering n’importe quoi… or just to put out a blanket and enjoy the view…

To the village panoramas…To the life within…
Why not open the door on a new adventure. It’s Bliss!

Come with us…

But first, read what others have to say…Don’t take  our word for it.

After you are through, book our last room. Watch the lavender flower, and experience the fragrance when a field is cut…It permeates the air for a quarter mile around it!

July 17-22 Provence (possible early arrival for Paris too!)

or

July 28-August 4 (Mediterranean and Paris) This trip is not advertised. It’s a small private trip. contact us for details wendy@blisstravels.com

Tour France: Provencal Perspective

Tour France: Provencal Perspective.

Perspective is an interesting thing. Sometimes it refers to your relationship with people, sometimes time, and sometimes the physical environment…In Provence I usually see all three things at once. And that’s a good day!

Here we are at a typical Provencal lunch. Sure it takes 3 hours…But, it’s not like “Thanksgiving dinner”. We are not all just dying to lay down on the couch to lessen the “pain” of overeating. Rather, it’s a relaxing and integral, yet energizing, part of the day


There’s your perspective AFTER the meal…what do you do? Here’s one idea…Though it’s certainly not the only good idea, it is one that we find Bliss-ful!

(sorry it’s sideways– that’s Emmy taking the road less traveled to the top of the cliffs…)

Then there’s physical perspective –in view and in deed…indeed!

To give you some perspective of the size of these cliffs, the above shot was taken from the cliff it faces –at a distance. The bottom two show CLIMBERS on the facing cliff. You must look quite hard –they are the “ant” like things on the rock face!In this shot, the crevice in the rock is actually big enough to camp on –see the people walking inside of it?

All of this seems to put life in a better perspective. Bliss is not a “holiday” event or a gift. It should be a regular feature in your life.  Call us when you are ready!

609 462 6213 or wendy@blisstravels.com. 2 rooms  in August and October are available. 1 room in July. June and September are full.

Tour France: The Best Vacation in Provence!

Tour France: Provence in Cherry Season…The best vacation in Provence

Life may not be a “bowl of cherries” but you sure can pick your own treats….Fast food Provence style –pick your own dessert on the way home from dinner!

These cherry trees are so full of cherries that the bows are bent nearly to the ground. This little orchard is off of a Roman road, a few steps from the center of a Medieval village we like to call “home”.On our way back, the view was panoramic.
Today’s adventure begins with market day.

Contact us to know more about our last room in July (NEW dates: Arrive between July 13 and 16 for Bastille Day in Provence or Paris, and then spend July 18-22 in the Luberon) and our trip in October!