Our trip to and away from Provence

We drove out of Provence on Thursday after dropping off Chet and Becky at the TGV train station in Avignon for their trip home. That it was the wrong station and they had to get to another station 30 min away with all their luggage and a time crunch, etc is another story.

So, everyone has their favorite towns in Provence. Well, Provence is a big place with hundreds of very small charming villages and it seems we could all visit Provence and not see many of the same towns as each other. Provence is south of Paris about a 7 hr car drive (and 3.5 hrs on the bullet train TGV) and east of Avignon which is sort of directly south of Paris and it is about three n of French Riviera, but they are worlds apart for sure. Chet had been to Provence several times to visit his cousin's cottage in the very small village of Le Beaucet ( pronounced "luh", "bow" (as in companion to arrow, not first part of dog talk), "say"). This village is so small it is not on most maps. Chet biked the area too, in his past younger life. So we stuck within about 45 min of this village as he knew the tourista towns as well as the off beat charmers (vs off beat non charmers). We had a couple of fab meals when we were not just baguetting, wine and cheesing our way thru the day.

early snacky dinner in run down La Coste, I mentioned previously Pierre Cardin is restoring the town.

here he comes now

choosing wine that was to become our future favorite, on a spectacular patio at Le Crillion Le Brave

our partial view with our wine at Le Crillion

fancy 3 hr French lunch in garden at Le Bonetoy

us four at Isle Sur Le Sourge, a favorite village hangout in Provence

specialty sandwich of baguette, chicken and, yes, french fries right in it. Fab!

our local bar in St Didier, two women dancing, locals ol' gals.

dining room in Chet and Becky's cottage, site of frequent salami, cheese, baguette meals

St Gens is a landmark saint in the Village of Le Beaucet where we lived. His shrine is up a long dirt path from our cottages and the locals make a very elaborate annual pilgrimage to it, water runs out of it as a holy spring.

Le Beaucet has a gourmet Auberge restaurant and we had our final lunch there, about 100 steps from our cottages.

Mass every Wed eve in the little remote hidden in canyon church of St Gens, so we attended.

We dropped down into the French Riviera after a couple of hours drive out of Provence, into Cannes. Very awesome and dramatic and makes Laguna Beach pale. We drove the Riviera thru Nice and Monte Carlo and Monaco ( several times thru and around Monaco since we could not seem to find the right road out). We continued up into Italy and the small towns on the sea, to Sta Margherita where we are staying for four nites ( and maybe forever?)

Art in Cannes. Right now Art and I are sitting on our big deck of our hotel room overlooking the Ligurean Sea with the bobbing colorful boats in Santa Margherita/Portofino/Italian Riviera. The hotel right next door to our deck has live music and they are currently singing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, sounds like its just for us. We had some great wine in Provence at a fabulous restored village resort Le Crillion de Brave (thanks Mike, it was the one place Chet did not know about) so we found the winery and stocked up (seems like ages ago but was just last week) and we are enjoying it on our private deck. Art is out looking to bring a pizza back. We have had soooo much food and drink, he is having a pizza and I am passing altogether.

Last night we drove up to a big family party in Biella in northern Italy about an hr n of Milan, for 70th bday party for Claudio, a distance cousin. We had such a fun time visiting with their fun family, and even tho we speak not a word of Italian and they very little English, we all managed just fine. We were all happy to see each other and visit. They are a wealthy family with a large textile business but they live in a small town, three of his four grown kids and nine grandchildren and the daughter an hour or so away. They seem to have the happy, normal life that those in the US crave. They go to Tunisia for seaside holidays (why not Italy fabulous beaches I ask, they say it is too expensive). They ski all winter an hour away. They take the kids to Paris etc for some culture.

As I continue this, Tea for Two singing right now. oh, and now the wedding theme in Il Padrino (The Godfather) Just like every other resort and cruise ship. Oh, now Mack the Knife. Are we lucky or what!

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