Provence: Where the Pleasures of Life Abound

Since summer travel is on everyone's mind right now, I thought it'd be great to share a write up by my dear friend, author and travel blogger Caroline from Shutters & Sunflowers. Caroline is an expert on my favorite place of all time - Provence! 

Provence is SUCH a special place and no one knows it better than Caroline. She has a way with words and sweeps you into a world of beauty and pleasure, making you experience the beauty & bounty that the South of France has to offer. A perfect read as we go into the weekend! 

Her blog Shutters and Sunflowers is a travel resource where she shares stories about things which touch her heart. In her own words, "it's about living the journey not waiting to get to the destination!" Amen to that. Caroline has very generously shared her Provence travel guides with us for free at the end of the post.  Enjoy :P


What is it that consistently draws people to Provence and to the Luberon in particular? What precisely is Provence’s appeal, that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ which makes the region so captivating? Aside from its natural beauty, its enduring appeal is that it remains one of the few places whose charm has not diminished with the passing of time. Simple pleasures of life can still be found here, and in abundance.


Immersing Yourself In Simple Pleasures

Provence is a place where lingering in the shade over a long lazy lunch, watching the world pass by, is part of life and in our over scheduled lives, is perhaps the very essence of Provence’s appeal!



It’s where shopping means ambling through a brightly colored market, filling your basket with freshly baked pastries, ripe local produce, the soil still clinging to it, a medley of olives, honey and flowers.

Colorful baskets at the market in Uzes

Colorful baskets at the market in Uzes

Life seems kinder here, that in itself is so integral to Provence’ appeal, where instead of rushing, one simply meanders....exploring the narrow streets, stopping every so often to admire a tall shuttered window or a worn brass door handle, which you just know has a story to tell.

Shutters on the streets of Uzes

Shutters on the streets of Uzes

It’s a place where one wanders down tree lined avenues, where bustling street cafés beckon, their only requirement being that you take your time over a coffee or glass of wine. Simple pleasures so integral to Provence’s appeal, just as alluring today as they were when Van Gough, Gauguin, Cézanne captured it on their canvases!


A Symphony for the Senses

There is so much to admire in Provence. To look at, to taste, to smell, to hear - simple but delightful sensory experiences which define it's appeal.

Sights of Provence

Provence and especially the Luberon, is visually stunning. The sense of the past is inescapable in its enchanting perched villages, its tumbled down castles, abbeys and medieval chateaux.

Chateau in Lourmarin

Chateau in Lourmarin

Set against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and a magical light, Provence has enticed artists for centuries. This unique transcendent light has a sharply defining clarity which has the becomes almost translucent, a painter’s dream!

Church in Lourmarin

Church in Lourmarin

It is an ever-changing kaleidoscope, where streaming sun rays intensify and illuminate the natural colours of the spectacular landscape. 

Bounneiaux across the vineyards

Bounneiaux across the vineyards

Vibrant summer carpets of dancing yellow sunflowers and shades of lavender.

Sunflower fields in Provence

Sunflower fields in Provence

L'Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque Gordes

L'Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque Gordes

Endless rolling fields of bright green vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards, which evolve into a deep, rich, ocher glow before shedding their gowns to rest during winter.

Vineyards in Provence

Vineyards in Provence

Fragrances of Provence

As the seasons change so do the natural fragrances, which in this part of the world have an intensity which perfumes the air like no where else. Lavender, verbena and olives, so defining of summer in Provence pervade. And later, the heady aroma of the vines, when lush crops of grapes drip like fat jewels, from ancient gnarly fists. Fragrances which giddily illustrate Provence’s appeal!

Lavendar at the market in Uzes

Lavendar at the market in Uzes

Grapes in Provence

Grapes in Provence

Tastes of Provence

Good food and eating in Provence, really matters. It is a place of mouth watering tastes; the flaky, buttery texture of croissants which melt on your tongue; of ripe tomatoes whose exploding flavor instantly reminds you of the summers of your childhood, of freshly cut grass, of not having to do anything.

Produce at the market in Uzes

Produce at the market in Uzes

Olives at the market in Uzes

Olives at the market in Uzes

Crusty, floury baguettes spread with soft, creamy cheese which oozes between your finger tips; small sweet strawberries, figs, nectarines and slices of chilled melon, a scrumptious regional bounty which is so much a part of Provence’s appeal. And as you feast on all this deliciousness, your ears full of the lyrical melody of the French language and the chirping of crickets, you’ll probably wonder if anything has ever tasted as good.

Crusty baguettes in Lourmarin

Crusty baguettes in Lourmarin

Perhaps the very heart of Provence’s appeal is that it is a place to find respite from the frenzied, interconnected world so many of us find ourselves consumed by, a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, as beguiling today, as it was many lifetimes ago.

Experience some of the beautiful regions of Provence for yourself:

What to See  UzèsAvignonLourmarin
Where to Stay  UzèsAvignonLourmarin
Where to Eat  UzèsAvignonLourmarin

Lourmarin Travel Guide - for Lourmarin & it's surrounding area
Uzès Travel Guide - for Uzes & and the surrounding regions of Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence.

Things I want to do this spring

I've been very motivated to spring clean this past week and now that I've done some of it, I have to say, best decision ever. I got rid of so much "stuff" that was just taking up space for no good reason!

It's also the season for renewal and freshening things up. For me this translates to new inspiration, new experiences and new habits. I decided to make a list of things I absolutely want to do before spring/summer comes to a close. Here goes! 

1) Go visit The Getty. I've been wanting to go for months! I definitely want to check out their decorative arts collection and the Getty Villa. It looks like they have a great calendar of events at both the Getty center and the villa. Also, I didn't know this but admission is FREE. I think it's unbelievably cool that everyone has full access to so much fantastic art, culture and inspiration! A wonder.


2) Take a nature hike and see the fantastic spring bloom up, close & personal. A dear friend sent me pictures of the super bloom at Carrizo Plains National Monument and I nearly died! I definitely want to get outside and BE with the wildflowers.   

3) Get back into my yoga practice. I love me some yoga. I feel so much more healthy and relaxed when I hit the mat 2-3 times a week. I can't do a headstand to save my life (respect for all the lovely yogis who can!), but I can hold the pigeon pose for a good 8 minutes. And it leaves you feel you amazing. I really need to get back into it.

(p.s. This picture of the Amansala in Mexico is blowing my mind on so many levels. Sun, palm trees, water, yoga mats... heavaaan!)


4) Leave my phone outside the bedroom so I can resist the urge to check my phone first thing in the morning. I know this is just not healthy. Get a table clock so there's absolutely no excuse to keep my phone by my bedside.

5) Spring clean!  I've already begun doing this and I gotta say, it feels amaaaazzzing to purge. I started with my much dreaded coats / shoe closet. Earlier I'd look at the amount of things in there and just get stressed out. A dedicated 4 hours and it's a whole new space!

I have a super basic approach. It's either an easy yes or a hell no!  

For shoes that are off-season or occasion wear, I took a small snapshot of each pair and stuck 'em on the boxes so we never have to search through a pile of boxes again. 

The before situation (piles of stuff) /  the after situation (organization ninja Z to the rescue)...

And I just could not do away with this beautiful pair of slip ons! They're so fab and fun. A gift from a friend who'd visited Kenya, but I've never worn them since they're a size too small. 

slip ons from Africa.jpg


Busted out this beautiful black and white tray. One of my favorites. It was stored away for a bit but now it's back in favor :P

black o white tray.JPG

And that's a wrap!

What 1-2 things you're looking forward to this spring / summer? Anything that you're looking to refresh / renew / change up?

Image Credits: The Getty, John Arackaparambil, Amansala


Beautiful Spaces

I've been meaning to write this post for a while and since it's the weekend, it's the perfect time to share these finds with you.

I'm usually very drawn to places that create an ambiance of immersive beauty & make you feel beautiful. Spaces that make you want to just BE there, for hours sometimes (I'm certainly guilty of this!) 

Here are some gems that I've discovered. Some of these I've been to because they're in my neck of the woods, and others are "must-sees" that I definitely want to go to in the near future. And when I do, I'll be doing cartwheels & back flips (as if!). I hope you enjoy them.


I  loooove St Frank in San Francisco. I only just discovered this place a couple weeks ago and now I'm stalking them on Instagram :P  Batik cushions, framed suzanis, coffee table books on travel & culture, a lovely chinoiserie vase, fabric trays  - there are some beautiful artisan goods to be found here. I know eclectic is an overused term, but it really was an eclectic mix of fabulous things.


A dear friend introduced me to this cafe, La Panotiq, also in Noe Valley, a couple weeks ago. The ambiance was lovely and we sat there for an hour just chatting and enjoying our caffeine and pastries (the almond croissant was delish!)  It has this California meets Parisian cafe vibe to it - for instance, there were traditional French accent chairs paired with a wooden table with succulent centerpieces. I quite loved the mix. 


What's not to love when you've got fresh flowers, coffee & beautiful things in one place? I love The Flower Boy Project a flower shop x cafe x gift shop created and curated by LA-based designer Sean Knibbs. I read about his design philosophy in this LA Time's article where they describe it as a "cross-pollination of retail and hospitality". It's a delight to find a place that cares about aesthetic in every aspect, from the decor to the drinks. Their floral lattes (Lavendar Boy & Rose Girl, topped with lavender/rose bits) are beyond beautiful. Have a look.


Laduree in Soho has all the luxury & flair of it's mother-ship in Paris. The neoclassical French decor, ornate chandeliers, antiques and that trademark pastel and gold color palette -all part of the signature Laduree experience.

But what caught my attention were pictures of their outdoor cafe. This beautiful urban retreat style setting in the heart of city. I thought it looked quite gorgeous, with a canopy of cherry trees and a fountain.

laduree 3.JPG

I learned about The Wing from reading this article in Fast Co, about the work of Emily Oberman, an irreverent New York based designer who has designed for the likes of SNL & Jimmy Fallon. Her latest project was to design the visual identity for The Wing - a women's only social club and co working space in New York.

I like the color palette - pale pink and minty green with gold tones, and some of the vintage decor (like those fabulous chairs in the powder room). It may be a little too pink for my taste, but you gotta love a space that commits to it's vision!  From the logo branded tables (LOVE the logo by the way), to the matchboxes, and those chic "power women" pencils - it's all in the details. And The Wing is right on the money when it comes to living out it's story in the broad strokes & the details.


I discovered Yoga Source in Los Gatos when I first moved to the Bay Area. I appreciate their big practice rooms and full length windows. It feels airy and welcoming, even if there's some street noise coming in every now and then. Also, how gorgeous are those lamps in the waiting area.

yoga source los gatos 4.JPG


A few years ago, while attending a friend's wedding in Arizona, we ventured into unknown territory, driving through the red rocks of Sedona. To our delight, we stumbled upon Amara Spa. Location wise, it can not get better than this. The sight of the red rocks at dusk is something else.

They had these detox weed wraps where you're wrapped up for about 20 minutes in seaweed, salts & muds from the surrounding area. They're definitely a tad pricey but if you're on a holiday and in the mood to splurge a little, it's a fun experience. Also, I gotta say I love the logo and branding by Fine, especially that deep raspberry color, mirroring the color of dusk in Sedona.



And finally my most favorite of all beautiful spaces - Mother Nature!  No, this picture below is not a Lord of the Rings style set in New Zealand; it's in San Francisco :P  A beautiful spot I was taken to a few days ago (lived in the Bay for 4 years and only just discovered this!). I can't tell you where this is (sworn to secrecy ;P),  but if we're out on an adventure in the city one day, I'll bring you here. And you'll see the sunlit gorgeousness of this place and feel compelled to thank the universe for just being here!


What's a place you love going to? Any favorite spots you particularly enjoy?

Macy's Flower Show

This weekend I was at the Macy's flower show in SF and I kept finding myself saying "This is spectacular!" Every 10 steps, I'd see something beautiful and feel this way. The theme for this year's exhibition is Carnival & yes, the displays are over-the-top, but that's the whole point :) 

I wanted to share with you some fantastic scenes from the show. Here's 12 things I loved. This isn't everything - there was a lot of cool stuff - but specifically things that caught my attention. Also, it was SUCH A BEAUTIFUL day in the city, I had to thrown in a couple street pictures, for good measure!  

Macy's has their flower shows in NYC, Chicago & SF around springtime every year. And they have some fun in-store events happenings as well. Here's what's going on in your city (major envy right now for the events lineup in NYC and Chicago!  floral cocktails & chocolate samplings, anyone?)  But I gotta say, it's hard to be too mad, because nothing beats the gorgeousness of a beautiful spring day in SF! :)

Street-side tulips just outside Macy's...



Angel's trumpet (what a perfect name for these flowers) at Union Square.

angel's trumpet union square.jpg


The Waterford crystal "wishing well". The only time you'll be allowed to throw quarters into elegant crystal. There were a few kids there having a ball :)



The "Oops: Spilled Bag of Popcorn" lady. Look closely at the ruffles on her dress :) 


This beautiful floral bouquet. Yes, those are sprigs of MINT leaves sticking out. I loved it!  How beautiful would this look on a spring table with a whiff of mint floating around the table. Elegant and unique. It was part of a floral demo that I caught the tail end of. 


These beautiful jazzed out pegasus, the stars of the show (there were 6)



I really liked this Love Tunnel recreation in the perfume department



And this pretty patch of flowers. The little orange flowers at the bottom of the patch are supposed to be super easy to maintain all year round. Perfect to grow in your garden, per our tour guide, who knew a hell of a lot about plants!


Towering pots



These adorable carnival cookies


And lastly, this Greek goddess themed Paco Rabanne Olympea perfume bottle. I loved the shape of the bottle & the display.

olympea perfume bottle.jpg


And that's a wrap! Anyone else go to the show?


P.S. You'll find all the details for your city here. There's some  fun events and workshops happening over the next 2 weeks. These in particular looked attractive to me,

Meet GODIVA's Global Executive Chocolatier Thierry Muret (NYC)
Floral Cocktail Seminar  (NYC)
Harry London Chocolate Sampling (Chicago)
Cooking demo with My Chocolate Soul (Chicago)
Spring Centerpieces with Freckled Florals (SF)
Festival Styling Party (SF)