Saturday, July 31, 2010


The village of Ansouis as seen from the vineyards.

Our house on rue Basse.

The kitchen.

The living room.

The fireplace with Molly reading on the couch.

Our bedroom.

The little terrace off of our bedroom.

Paige's bedroom.

Molly's bedroom.

We have landed at our 5th house. It is in the Luberon region of Provence.

It is beautiful. It is gorgeous.

The village is pretty.

There are lots of things to do and see in the surrounding area.

I am SO looking forward to this week in Ansouis.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Les Baux

Looking out from the Roman aqueduct ruins in Fontvieille.

Hotel Calendal.

Climbing the aqueduct ruins.

Cathedrale D'Images.

Pont du Gard.

Bull races in Arles.

After leaving Balmont Thursday morning, we headed due south on the A20 to the ancient Roman city of Arles. We have made very good use of our two days here.

Van Gogh, Roman aqueduct ruins, Les Baux, Cathedrale D'Images, Pont du Gard, St. Remy-de-Provence, and bull races. Not to mention a couple of fine dinners out.

We are packing up shortly and driving to our 5th house in Ansouis.

Thank you Hotel Calendal and Arles. We had a marvellous time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Van Gogh's painting 'Cafe Terrace at Night'.

My favourite French flower.

Rain or shine, an umbrella has so many uses.

Cafe Van Gogh in the daytime.

Cafe Van Gogh at night.

The colour yellow is everywhere in Provence.

So bright, so happy, so sunny.

Today I bring you: yellow.


A vision in blue denim.

I love how this vine grows straight out of the sidewalk.

Old shutters. Very old shutters.

A typical street scene.

The Provencal blue sky and a Roman amphitheatre.

We are in Arles for a couple of days before we head to our next destination of Ansouis on Saturday.

I love this ancient Roman city. Joe and I were here four years ago on our second honeymoon.

My favourite two colours in this part of the world are the blues and yellows.

This morning I bring you: blue.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gettin' Outta Dodge

Good-bye Balmont, cows, and our farmhouse on the hill.

We have decided to pull up stakes 2 days early and head south tomorrow morning.

While Balmont and the surrounding area has been peaceful and idyllic, it has not been the most stimulating of environments. We've been to Lyon twice, went to the 'Hat Museum', have walked miles in the countryside, have said 'hi' to a lot of cows, have played numerous card games, and have driven to numerous villages within a 50 kilometre radius.

The villages have been just that. Villages. We haven't seen all that many people in the streets, we've tried to go for lunches and/or coffees but the cafes always seem to be closed, and there is very little to do or see. This part of the world doesn't seem to be set up for tourists like us.

Joe has booked us in to the Hotel Calendal in Arles for the next two nights. He and I stayed there four years ago when we were in Provence.

Good-bye Balmont!

Happy Birthday To Me!


I even get my own special birthday hat!

Happy Birthday to me!

This morning I woke up and I was 52! Yippee! Not only am I lucky to be 52 and healthy, but I am very blessed. This is the 4th time I've celebrated my birthday in Europe. I don't take any of it for granted.

When I came down the stairs this morning, a birthday surprise was waiting for me. The entire living room was filled with balloons that Molly and Paige had blown up. Not only had they stayed up very late last night filling the balloons with their breath, they also got up early to be downstairs in time for the birthday surprise.

I am one lucky lady.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bouchon Lyonnais

Salade Lyonnias

Potatoes Gratin Dauphinois

Pot au Feu Cochon

When we were in Lyon yesterday, Joe really wanted to go to a restaurant that was 'Bouchon Lyonnais'. It is a restaurant that specializes in the typical food of the Lyon region.

Paige and Joe started with onion soup which they said was delicious. Molly and I both had a salade Lyonnais, which was also very tasty. We were so hungry we gulped it all down.

Our main dishes came out shortly after. Joe, always the adventurous eater, ordered a tripe sausage. Molly and Paige played it safe with steak and potatoes gratin Dauphinois.

I, on the other hand, had a hankering for some pork. So I ordered 'Pot au Feu Cochon', thinking it was a kind of pork stew.

Was I ever wrong! Out came a black kettle of pig parts (tail and ear) in a clear broth with one boiled potato and about 20 pickles. The rest of my family convulsed into laughter at the look on my face. I did eat it. And it was good.

Lesson learned: Cochon = Pig. Porc = pork.

I'll know better next time.


The Rhone River is covered with several pedestrian bridges.

The French have the most interesting and beautiful shop windows.

One of the most famous murals in Lyon.

Lyon is a beautiful city between the Rhone and Saone Rivers. It's about an hour drive from our farmhouse in Balmont.

We've been in twice since our arrival last Saturday. The first visit was to bring Will to the train station and the second trip was for the girls to shop.

While the girls went off to spend their money, Joe and I walked around taking in the sights, smells and feel of this ancient city.

Lyon boasts over 200 wall murals painted on city buildings. We found 4 of them.

Everywhere we looked there is something interesting to see.

Monday, July 26, 2010


(This means you, Colleen and Donna.)

Photo by Jan van der Voort

The owner of the Balmont house, Carol, met us when we first arrived on Saturday to show us around. She showed us how the oven worked, how the washing machine worked, where the extra towels were, etc. As she was getting ready to leave she turned to us.

Carol: Are you afraid of snakes?

Us: No.

Carol: Because there are vipers here in the woods and they are poisonous.

Us: Okay......

Carol: The snakes are more afraid of you, than you are of them.

Us: Okaaaaaaay.....

Carol: You know what to do if you are bitten by one, don't you?

Us: Not really.

Carol: You sit down. Don't run. And wait for help to come.

Us: (Thinking) Wait for help? What help? To come from where? WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!

We've since done a google search on these vipers and have found out they are shy creatures who would rather escape than bite. Their venom is not deadly.

I still like snakes.

Wilhelm To The Fatherland

On his way.

Camping at Wacken 2009. Photo courtesy of W.O.A.

Metal heads. Photo courtesy of W.O.A.

The concerts. Photo courtesy of W.O.A.

Aerial view of Wacken 2009. Photo courtesy of W.O.A.

On Sunday we drove Will to Lyon to catch the train to Germany. He is going to stay with some German friends he met in high school and then to attend a three day heavy metal music festival up north in Wacken.

I must admit my heart was in my throat when I saw the back of him disappear through the train station gate. He was to take the train to Paris, transfer via the metro to a different station, take a second train to Cologne, then a third to Marle.

I am not a worrier. I do not fret. But let me tell you, until I heard from Will later on that night I was worried and fretting!

Before he left France, Joe and I gave him so many lectures about keeping his passport safe, his money secure, and being a wee bit suspicious of overly-friendly people that I'm sure he was about to scream. But Will took it all in with good humour. And I sure hope he follows our good advice.

Will is young. And he is travelling alone. And he does not always pay attention.

I'm not so much worried about him when he is with his friends and their families. But it's a different story for when he's head-banging at 'Wacken Open Air' for three days. He plans to meet up and camp with friends from Vancouver, but has no tent, no sleeping bag, no cell phone, no nothin'! Heck, he doesn't even have a proper jacket for Pete's sake!

He'll fly back to us on August 11th and meet us in Florence.

I can hardly wait.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Safety Last

We often joke about the lack of safety rules and regulations in France. There probably are rules and regulations in place, it's just that no one follows them.

Case in point:

Yesterday we saw a dad driving his car with his infant strapped to his chest. The baby was facing forward.

I almost wanted to stop his car and make a citizen's arrest.

Miles From Nowhere

Our house in Balmont.

The kitchen.

The sitting area.

The fireplace. Please note the small kitchen door to the right.

Molly's bedroom.

Paige's bedroom.

Our bedroom.

The dining room.

The countryside.

More countryside.

We are now settled in our new digs in Balmont.

Balmont is a collection of 4 houses at the end of a very long country road. Why the French even bother to give a place name to a tiny group of houses is beyond me. Balmont makes Martignac look like Times Square.

Our house is a 300 year old farmhouse. It is very rustic and living here is a little bit like camping. Okay. It's a LOT like camping considering we are paying 1,000 euros for the experience.

There is no microwave oven, no dishwasher, no shower (just a tub), getting the gas burners to light is tricky, there are just a few electric lights and outlets, the eating area has a table with benches, there are no wine glasses, the dishes are chipped, and the septic system is so old we can only flush the toilet once in a while. The door to the kitchen is only 5 feet high, so we have to duck low to get through it unscathed.

But it does have a telephone and an internet connection, so for that we are grateful.

The nearest village is a 20 minute drive away. And everything is closed Sunday and Monday. So you better have your fridge stocked for the weekend Mabel or you'll be in trouble!

The Alsace-Rhone region is very beautiful. We are surrounded by rolling hills and never-ending fields of corn, cows and wheat. The countryside is a gorgeous patchwork quilt of browns, beiges and greens.

This week will be all about peace and tranquility.