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O! France for Foodies – Part 2

Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in News | 0 comments

O! France for Foodies – Part 2

In a little over a month, this is what lunch will look like. A veritable tableau of artistically displayed fresh local ingredients. Almost to pretty to eat isn’t it?  This will be enjoyed after a morning at a colourful Provençal market. We will be sitting in a shady corner of a small café overlooking the ochre-red hills of Roussillon, a picturesque hilltop village a few minutes from the Château de Goult, our home for the week in Provence. Of course, a bottle of chilled rosé from a neighbouring vineyard, most probably Domaine de Tara, will be on the table. Your assignment will be to try to replicate this experience seven days in a...

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O! France for Foodies

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in News | 0 comments

O! France for Foodies

We are a mere two months away from our annual O! France experiences: One fabulous week in the historical Dordogne and one memorable week in picture perfect Provence. At this point in our planning process we are finalising delicious dinner menus with our chefs, Nella and Djamila. These special ladies create memorable meals for us each night using only the freshest seasonal organic products. This year, our trips take place in the fall, and today, let me present a taste of the autumnal Dordogne. It is said that if a Frenchman’s heart lives in Paris, his stomach resides in the Dordogne Valley. Fall menus in the Dordogne include cèpes (porcini) and a multitude of delicious mushrooms, often served in savoury omelets. And then there are the walnuts, which were so valuable in the Middle Ages that they were used to pay debts. They are showcased in walnut cakes and vin de noix, both local specialities and in walnut oil, delicious in vinaigrettes and drizzled on grilled vegetables. Ah, the duck – served every which way, most often in decadent confits. Then of course there is the ubiquitous  foie gras  which appears on baguette slices for appetizers, as a garnish for salads, in slivers on an omelet and on its glorious own as a separate course (it can be found in every farmer’s market as well as in an amazing number of stores and specialty boutiques).  Not to be forgotten is the local goat cheese known as cabecou, delicious on toasted bread along with a dollop of honey and a few walnuts. Of course, all this tastes even better in our 17th Century dining room with its vaulted stone ceiling after a day discovering this storied region or in a very special little restaurant open only for Sunday lunch that serves food made from ingredients sourced from the owner’s farm. To experience both Dordogne and Provence specialties, do join us in 2014!  ...

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Lily of the Valley on Labour Day

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Lily of the Valley on Labour Day

In France, Labour Day – la Fête des travailleurs – is on May 1st. How does one celebrate Labour Day in France? Why by giving and receiving sprigs of Lily of the Valley of course, or even better, by offering chocolates decorated with this harbinger of spring. Lily of the Valley has symbolised spring since the Middle Ages. King Charles IX , having received a sprig as a good luck charm on the first of May in 1561, decided to offer this delicate flower to the ladies of the Court on May 1 each year. In Paris, at the beginning of the XXth Century, French couturiers started offering sprigs of Lily of the Valley to their petites mains (seamstresses) on Labour Day. But it was only in 1976 that Lily of the Valley became officially associated with Labour Day on May 1st. That year, a boutonnière of Lily of the Valley appeared in the lapels of demonstrators marching in celebration of this holiday celebrating labour, replacing the Wild Rose and red triangle that symbolised the division of a worker’s day into three equal parts: work, sleep and play. Bien sûr, as it became the official symbol of Labour Day, rules and regulations governing the sale of these lovely sprigs were put in place – it is France after all. But that does not deter the French who last year spent 25,5 million Euros (appr. $34 million CAD) on sprigs (whole plants don’t count) of Lily of the Valley for May Day alone! We left France yesterday after a lovely sojourn in the Dordogne where ten lucky guests will join us in September at le Château de Poujade, and it was wonderful to see bouquets of Lily of the Valley on every street corner and in every shop window. Now if only mine could start blooming in the back...

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Comicon in Provence

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Comicon in Provence

Where else but in Provence does a Comic Book Convention last a whole 3 months! Remember, this is the land of the one month vacation and multiple four-day weekends. When the French see a good thing, they make sure to take time to en profiter pleinement (to take full advantage and enjoy). The 10th Annual Rencontres du 9è Art – Meetings of the 9th Art – started in March and will last through May. Yes, Comic Books have been added to the official list of the 9 Arts that include Architecture, Scuplture, Painting, Dance, Music, Poetry, Cinema, Media (Photography, Television). Now that’s status! The Festival is proof that some of us never grow up:  you can dress up as your favourite comic book character and attend presentations, seminars, meetings, exhibits,  discussion panels …the list goes on and on and all showcase the art of the Comic Book – known as Bandes Dessinées or BD. BD artists from France (of course), Germany, Belgium, Lebanon, Holland, Columbia, Spain, and the United States will showcase their art in galleries and open air venues, salons and libraries, convention halls and schools, they are taking over Aix! See the program to find out how much our French Friends love their BDs (Bandes Dessinées), and check out our tours to find out how you can join us for an unforgettable day in...

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Poisson d’avril

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Poisson d’avril

On April 1, people all over the world play practical jokes on each other – hence the name April Fools Day. In France however, it’s all about fish. Children carefully cut out paper fish and tape them on their unsuspecting friend’s backs. When I was a child – the ultimate poisson d’avril was surreptitiously taping a fish on the teacher’s back. Why fish? The tradition goes back to the 16th Century when gifts were often in the form of food. As April 1 was usually during lent when eating meat was forbidden for Christians, fish was omnipresent. When the concept of practical jokes started, one of the most common was offering fake fish. Of course, the French have elevated this wonderful day of pranks and fun to high gastronomy. The displays in the pâtisseries and chocolatier windows are breathtaking. Large poissons, tiny poissons, dark chocolate, white chocolate, marzipan – you name it – there are all manner of poissons! In the fall, when we lead our wonderful A Castle in Provence tours, the displays are equally as breathtaking but in the meantime, happy poisson...

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O! France – Unique, Authentique, Magnifique!

Posted by on Mar 24, 2013 in News | 2 comments

O! France – Unique, Authentique, Magnifique!

With over 20 years of travel, wining and dining in France, we have created unique, memorable and authentic experiences for our guests. Find out more about O! France and our fun approach to visiting the storied regions of Provence and the Dordogne. We stay in castles and classified historical buildings. Our guests are the nicest people who share a spirit of adventure, a curiosity for history, an appreciation for art, an interest in different cultures, and of course a love of food and wine. We like a relaxed pace and some down time, but nightly dinners at home sharing stories around the dining room table are a highlight. We explore towns and villages on our own but  enjoy learning about historical buildings and 40,000 year old cave art from historians and archaeologists. We grab a bite from a paella stand at a Provençal market or savour a three course meal in a restaurant cantilevered over a rushing river. We enjoy wines in renowned winery tasting rooms or quaff chilled rosé by the pool. The possibilities are endless and the trips unforgettable. Hopefully, we have piqued your interest. Visit us often and you will learn fun historical facts, discover unique festivals, find out about upcoming events, get helpful travel tips and learn all about what has made these spectacular regions so...

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Posted by on Mar 15, 2013 in FrontPicture | 0 comments

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