Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finally...crepes at my house!

Yes, finally we were able to use Nicholas' Christmas gift of a combo Raclette machine with a Crepe make on top. But as you can see from the pictures, it was NOT me who made them. It was my great friends Laurent and Nathalie. I told Laurent that a man who cooks is twice as good looking as one who doesn't (word to the wise).
Amazingly, I had all the necessary ingredients to make these delicious creations, and even the crepe pan...but what I didn't realize is that you need a stick to swirl the batter around (I didn't know because Maman never used one) and a wooden spatula as to not scratch the pan..(again didn't know this either as Maman never used one) So it was a bit primitive and you can see by Laurent's face he does not find the working conditions worthy. But we mustered through these trifle things and were blessed to eat some amazing crepes (Thanks to Laurent and his lovely assistant Nathalie)

Here you can see that they tasted good as Lisa is enjoying her first Laurent crepe. Everyone had different ideas as to what should be on the inside...for's always sugar and only sugar, but I have learned that even here that is not the case. One popular filling is Nutella, we had honey (both Lavender and Orange and butter and sugar. Everyone was happy and we got stuffed on this "snack".

After the sugar had fully kicked in Laurent and Abigail started to play, he is so good with Abigail and loves to play...I think he misses his girls being as young. Abigail loves him now and plays constantly with him, though at first she was a bit intimidated by more...they are buds.
And so a wonderful Sunday was spent...first a great church service, a walk on the beach in the sun and ended with many many crepes....a perfect day in the south of France.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Growing up, one of my childhood songs that I loved so much was "Sur le Pont d'Avignon". It took many years before I realized that there actually was a Pont in Avignon that was refered to in the song. They obviously do not call it that, the real name for the pont or bridge in english is the Pont Saint-Bénezet which was built between 1171 and 1185, with only 4 of the original 22 arches remaining.

No matter the history, I love the song speaks of dancing on the the pont. I NEVER imagined that one day..."I" would be doing just that! And with the man I love!! But here we are dancing away on the bridge while Abigail furiously snapping away the pictures and curious onlookers watching in disbelief. I must say it was quite difficult to dance on because the bridge is made of many stones just sticking out, beautiful to look at...difficult to danse on!

Here is the song in brief: (feel free to sing away)

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond
Les beaux messieurs font comm' ça
Et puis encore comm' ça

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond
Les bell' dames font comm' ça
Et puis encore comm' ça

And for the man I love, ever the historian, his big thing he wanted to see on this trip was the Palais des Papes, on the World Heritage Site of the Unesco. Avignon became the residence of the Popes in 1309 when the new Pope unwilling to face the violent chaos of Rome after his election in 1305 moved the residence.

Want to know what the weather was like? Ask me!

Finally we also got to see the Pont du Gard is an aqueduct constructed by the by the Roman Empire around the year 19 BC! It was an amazing structure to see and this picture does no justice to the size of this thing...a must see on everyone's list!
Of course there was many more stops with extremely interesting things to see and times spent but I'm sure by this time you've grown tired of this trip. It was however the best vacation of my life as it was carefree and with no real structure. We went as we pleased and left when we pleased. Thank you to Nicholas and Abigail for making this trip so special.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


After our stay in Marseille, we traveled upwards to Aix-en-Provence. This picture shows where the government forced the Jewish population to live during World War II. It was a poor and unsanitary ghetto at the time and the streets were closed off at the end of the day forbidding anyone to enter or leave the area. Now only a plaque marks the square as a ghetto and it is a lively place of business, belying its ugly past.

After this stop we traveled onward towards Cezanne's Studio, traversing the Pavillon de Vendôme which was built in 1665 for Louis de Mercoeur, the duke of Vendôme to house his mistresses as the story goes. If you look at the front door and see the men on either side of the woman holding their is a poignant reminder of the headaches you will get if you try this.

And finally we arrived at Cezanne's studio where he painted many of his the time that he stayed here he considered it to be "the country" but today Aix-en-Provence is anything but country.

Finally as we were touring about the center of town we found this wonderful cookie shop with the most out of this world cookies and ended up buying a whole tin full, what a great way to finish our stay here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Marseille, the next stop

Marseille is a town of over 1.6 million people and I believe every single one of those 1.6 million people were on the road the day we showed up. I was the one doing all the driving as my car is a stick-shift and Nicholas "claims" to not know how to drive one. So my thoughts or Marseille and the other big towns we visited in regards of driving and amount of people mirror that of this gentleman from the Pavillion Vedome in Aix. Headaches galore, I definetly perfer my small villiage of Frejus!!

That is not to say that there was not many, many interesting things to see in Marseille, for there was. I think one of my favorites was the Palais Longchamp built in 1839. It was quite impressive!

Next door to the Palais was a wonderful museum of Louis paintings and furniture that were just out in the open to possibly be touched and stolen, though they have monitors and video cameras. Nicholas found it interesting that you could litterally sit on a chair that was several hunderds of years old before being stopped. I called it the "suckling museum" for there were many painting of babies nursing their mothers.

There was much more but our trip was still in high swing. We caught this picture of L'Eglise de Reformers on the way out of town. Next on the trip was Aix-en-Provence

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Trip

Our first stop on our trip was at Hyères, and it was a cold and windy day. The trip there was eventful enough going by the sea and seeing the waves raging..but it did not prepare us for the visit we were to have.
We first pulled into town, not really knowing what we wanted to do or see, all I knew was I was ready to stop driving. We found the only open cafe (due to the Christmas holiday) and got a hot cup of cafe and two hot chocolates and began to ponder the plan. We decided just to head down the historic district and see what we may find. We were walking about when we noticed this old man kind of following us, for no apparent reason. We'd vear off some path and down some road and then there he would be again! And again! He finally started telling us where to go, in French but very provincal so I could barely understand what he was saying but I got the jiist of it. So we began to follow this bizarre little man's directions (it did cross my mind a time or two as we seem to go nowhere...he's just leading to a place where we'll be robbed) but we'd go on, we loose him up these emensely steep hills only to find him at the top of another one ahead of us. Where at that time he'd give us further instructions. This went on for some time till we ended on this path that sure looked like someone's decrepid old driveway of years ago, but we plugged on.

After clearing a path we could see what the old buggar was talking about a beautiful castle of old in ruins, quite lovely. We headed in it's direction only to be bombarded by wind that could equal a hurricane! At times it was difficult to walk and we were blown backwards! Here is a pic of Nicholas and Abigail taking a breather from walking against the wind as well as clinging to the rock for dear life for fear of being blown down the mountain.

Here is a shot of part of the castle that is left after the winds. It was really cool to see and as I said really cold so as you can see from the next picture we took refuge in the castle for a break from the rentless wind.

Finally after we made it to the peak of this increasingly steep mountain we did get a wonderful view of the city. We took some time to enjoy our find...not even sure if the place had a name or not but it was more the adventure of having found the place and getting there than the actual place.

And when finally walked back downhill, who do you think was there waiting on us? That's right! The same little old guy. Quite content that we followed his directions...we neared him and I went to say thank you for the treasure we'd seen but he was content and he went back into his house and never popped back up.
And that was the first stop, we kept plugging along.....we passed through Toulon, it was too big and confusing to try and we couldn't find anything that drew us there so we went straight on to Marseille.

Our visit to Cannes

We decided to go to Cannes for a quick visit one afternoon as it is only 20-30 minutes from Frejus. This is the famous city where the movie stars gather each year for the famous Cannes Film Festival (to be held in May this year). However, we went with a very specific agenda. Nicholas wanted to go see L' Ile Sainte-Marguerite, a small island only a 15 minute ferry ride from the city. Why you might ask? Well if you're a history buff you know the answer for the rest of us mere mortals, let me explain it's significance. The island's prison held the infamous "Man in the Iron Mask" for some time, after his stay here he was moved to the Bastille and died November 19, 1703. His legend lingers to this day because there is no real proof and many suggestions as to WHO he really was.

Anyways it was intersting 'museum' if you'd call it that, I was not allowed to take any pictures otherwise you could see the cell where he was kept. Not too bad when you compare it to today's standards of cramming people up ontop of one another. It was a quite spacious room with an enourmous fireplace, which was well needed as it was very cold in the room. Your typical stone "toilet" hole and and area that seemed to be where a bed may be placed. Next door to this cell was another cell where there were 6 protestants who were imprisoned for their faith. So this guy, was one in a cell, they were 6 in the same size cell. So he was given some 'extras'. But who knows....

This is the view of the side of the prison, the third window in was his (if I counted right) the fourth the six. A whole village is built around this prison complete with a church and today it is still a village, only of fisherman I believe, though in the summertime it does get many visitors. It was quite lovely and we were sad that we arrived so late (catching the last outgoing ferry) to the island. It is definetly a place worth investigating and spending the day...perhaps we'll go again and tour the island itself.
I had to take a picture of the water here for you as it is so crystal clear you can almost muster up the courage to take a swim in the dead of did hear the almost in that.

And of course my favorite part of our visit to guessed it....Nicholas.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas in France

Christmas Eve we were treated to a wonderful tradition of "Les Treize desserts " (13 desserts) by the Bruzzone family. The thirteen desserts are used in celebrating Christmas region of Provence. They represent Jesus and His apostles. The desserts always number thirteen but the exact items vary by local or familial tradition. The food traditionally is set out Christmas Eve and remains on the table three days until December 27th.

As you can see there was plenty, and I'm not sure that we got to sample all thirteen but we did our best. There were raisins, dates, and other assorted dried fruits, nuts, fresh tangerines and some that were cooked for hours in sugar whole that was by far the sweetest thing I've ever eaten in my life! There was pastries, pompes a l'huile and on and on!

This is obviously before we started eating!

Here we are before the gluttony heading to the living nativity at the Frejus Cathedral. Unfortunately we got there late, so we were standing in the back but it was beautiful...we stayed long enough to see a baby lamb go in and sit on "Joseph's" lap. There was also a baby "Jesus" sitting on "Mary's" lap and he was a really good baby, he never made a sound, never cried and barely wiggled.

Then on Christmas morning Abigail played Santa and handed out all the gifts, sometimes as you see taking more at one time than she should. She was so excited this year and actually more about watching our reactions to the gifts she'd gotten us and not necessarily about receiving gifts! She is getting to be such a big girl!

Here we are proudly displaying our new Russian hats that Nicholas brought us. Mine is called a Mongolka and is Silver Fox and Abigail's is as warm as it is cute! We love them!
The rest of the day was spent in our PJ's enjoying the calm of the day. The next day we were off on our whirlwind adventure!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How to "sum up" time with my love...

How do I sum up time spent with Nicholas? Amazing, wonderful, enchanting, mesmerizing, fun, filled with love, laughter and life! That was my time with Nicholas. He flew in on the 18th of December for Christmas, a holiday which I normally love so much but which I was dreading knowing that Devan would no longer be a part of our celebrations.
Meeting him at the airport...knowing it was actually him and not a dream was wonderful. The next three weeks seemed to have flown by! (that why no posts while he was here) So to try and sum up what we were able to accomplish in three weeks will mainly have to be pictorial for now and perhaps future posts I will go into depths on each place we visited. Here to follow is our piddling time in Frejus the first couple of days.

Here I am in utter bliss as I have my baby with me! We tried to visit Frejus' library but got there just in time to have the door shut as we peered was lunch time, so we took time to enjoy the beautiful park in the parking lot.

We also visited a lot of historical sites in Frejus to wet our appetites for what was to come. Here Nicholas and Abigail stand next to the Roman Aqueducts of Frejus. Water was brought by these very aqueducts to Frejus from 40 km to the northeast since Julius Caesar founded the city in 50 B.C.

These pictures are from Frejus' amphitheatre which was able in it's hay day to seat up to 12,000 spectators. Half the side is as it was found in the 60's and the other half is "renovated". This sparked the ongoing debate of the vacation as to whether or not ancient ruins should be simply preserved as is or restored to what it used to look like. I must say Nicholas and I fell on opposite sides on this discussion, but it was an interesting discussion.
We also spent Christmas eve in Frejus (a later post) and came back for a couple of days at the end before heading off to Nice to take him to the airport. Check back in for the next city!