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Ancient beauty; modern times

On a gusty Sunday in January we took a long and ambling walk along one of the most stunning stretches of the Côte d’Azur – the national park that runs from Cap Lardier to Plage de Gigaro. Here are some pictures to try and capture just how beautiful it is here. Tip: If you visit out of season you’ll get the place almost to yourself!

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The stretch of coastline from Plage de Gigaro to Cap Lardier

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Sketchy days: Beating the winter blues

Biking through the vineyards of Provence
Fond memories of biking through the vineyards of Provence

We’re now starting to understand why the locals in our village look at us with some concern when we tell them we are here for the whole year and are not just sun seekers on a jolly holiday. It gets pretty quiet here in January. The plane trees, which give such an iconic look to the whole village, are raising up their bare branches, as if they’re asking themselves where the sun has gone. Most of the restaurants have closed their doors for the season. And the villagers have retreated behind their shutters seemingly to hibernate for the winter. I’m sort of doing the same, staying in most evenings, watching old episodes of Twin Peaks and soaking up some bleak vibes. So, yes, it appears that even in sunny south of France you can catch the winter blues.

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Christmas in Paris: Need to know

pariswinter, amyinprovenceI’ll admit it, I was dubious about spending Christmas in Paris. Although I love the city I’ve become accustomed to Christmas at home with my family, roast turkey and all the trimmings. So the thought of wandering the sleepy streets of Paris looking for a bite to eat on Christmas day was not so appealing. Happily, and to my surprise, I found the city was buzzing and full of festive cheer. Despite the horrific events of November it held its head up high and shined more brightly than I’d ever seen it. Here are a few things to know in case you feel like escaping to the City of Light next Noël:

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All this beauty can be exhausting

It started when Jim saw these pictures from the French film Claire’s Knee on Tumblr. The film is set on and around a beautiful lake and he made it his mission to find out where it was and go there. We discovered that the name of the lake is Lac D’Annecy, or Lake Annecy, and it is to the east of France, right next to Switzerland: a perfectly located stop-over on  our road trip from the UK to Provence.

So we headed for the town of Annecy and, arriving at sunset, we weren’t disappointed:

Lake Annecy
Lake Annecy at sunset

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Lives less ordinary: A Valencian odyssey

 

Shenel enjoying the Valencian sunshine and way of life
Shenel enjoying the Valencian sunshine and way of life

My good friend Shenel took it upon herself to escape the high-flying city life, and chose Valencia as her home, where she’s now learning Spanish and indulging in more creative pursuits. Here is her life less ordinary’. 

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A quest to find the monoliths of Plateau Lambert

Here's the story of our trek into the hills near Collobriere, Provence , to find the mythical Lambert monoliths...
Here’s the story of our trek into the hills near Collobriere, Provence , to find the mythical Lambert monoliths…

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Plan de la Tour market: The best olives in Provence?

Since moving to Provence, the Plan de la Tour market has become a weekly ritual. It isn’t the biggest market in the area and while it is busy and bustling in the middle of summer, it can feel a little ghostly out of season. But it is an important part of village life, with everyone stocking up on their provisions for the week from local vendors and producers.

The olives here are prepared and sold by a lady who my Grandma remembers running the same stand over twenty years ago. And they truly are the best olives I’ve tried, (particularly the garlic flavoured green ones).

The Plan de la Tour olive supplier's spread is bounteous and beautiful
The Plan de la Tour olive supply: bounteous and beautiful

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Walk like an Egyptian

The Egyptians knew all about the power of the feet
The Egyptians knew all about the power of the feet

My latest good read is by a well-known yogi called Vanda Scaravelli, ‘Awakening the Spine‘. Scaravelli took up yoga in later life and was a student of the legendary B.K.S. Iyengar. She wrote her first book on her yogic discoveries in her eighties. You can see some pictures of her in mind-boggling poses here. What stuck with me from reading her book was the importance she places on the feet. While it is common practice in yoga classes to be asked to “ground down through the feet”, my inkling is that this deep connection with the earth happens rarely in a class environment when everyone is caught up in trying to follow the sequence and distracted by their neighbours.

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Lives less ordinary: Kitesurfing in Sri Lanka

 

Cat on the beach in Kalpitiya
Cat on the beach in Kalpitiya 

Cat and her husband Dan escaped their busy London lives for a year to remember. They quit their jobs, got married in South Africa in February and in April they arrived in Sri Lanka to spend four months learning to kitesurf. I spoke to Cat about her experience of living ‘a life less ordinary’. 

What would you be doing in your ‘ordinary’ life if you hadn’t taken time out to do something different?

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