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.

Eclair Extravaganza (25 Beautiful Objects No. 22)

This week, No. 22 on our list of 25 Beautiful Objects, comes from France!

After spending a full day at the Louvre, basking in the presence of the greats, we stumbled upon this FANTASTIC eclair pop-up shop just outside the museum. L'Eclair de Genie. Look at this spread.

22. L'Eclair De Genie eclairs

The founder, Christophe Adam, wasn't kidding when he decided to call his posh pastry outing L'Eclair De Genie ("Eclair Genius")

Notice the special attention given to aesthetics. Each eclair is carefully crafted, with a rich, glossy glaze and toppings in metallic & pop colors. They look downright luxurious!  And that's exactly what Christophe is going for.

You'll find fancy macron shops across Paris, but a luxury eclair outing? There's only one :)

When I dug deeper (here and here), I found that Christophe started L'Eclair De Genie to introduce a new concept of a pastry shop - "flash engineering". The idea is to create a place where you'll find a collection of beautiful looking eclair, each appearing as a "flash of genius". Behind the scenes, Christophe & his team get to experiment, take creative risks and get quick feedback on if their ideas are working or not.

We had their No. 12 Pistachio Cream & No. 22 Passion Crispy Raspberry.  Hardcore deliciousness.

Christophe's experimental magic definitely comes through.  It's no wonder L'Eclair De Genie shops have opened up in Japan and Italy too.  I'm waiting for one to show up in the US! When? :)

France diaries - Part 2

Continuing from last week's post about my time in France, this week, I'm going to take you into the heart of the French countryside.

When we reached Lourmarin, a small French village in Provence, it felt like we were stepping into a natural wonderland! You could see every shade of green imaginable and just like that you'd stumble upon a patch of lavender. The cedar trees touched the sky. 

Our little apartment was right across the street from Cafe Gaby (that I had read about in Peter Mayle's book!). This was a surprise. We had only to look out our window to observe the goings-on at the world-famous cafe! It filled my heart with JOY!

I spent a few minutes every morning  standing by the window looking outside. I could see the village clock (that struck a bell at every hour), see the shops opening up below, and the happenings at Cafe Gaby. There were usually 3-4 regulars who sat at the cafe for hours, silently drinking coffee, smoking a pipe, observing people or playing with this little pup who was having the time of his life jumping around from one table to the next!

Over the next few days, I found myself noticing specific things about Provencal home & hospitality. How they made you feel welcome, the colors, the sense of homeliness and how they invited nature into their daily life.

Here's 2 aspects that I thought were standout and very unique to this little town,
1.  inviting storefronts
2.  simple & charming floral entryways to homes

inviting storefronts

Part of Lourmarin's appeal is that the entire village gives that leisurely, laid back vibe.

The shop owners will indulge you in conversation (we went right before peak season, so there were admittedly fewer customers).

My friend Nanou owns a beautiful romantic boutique, Rose de Bagatelle, that's close to the village center. She was at the shop with her baby grand-daughter. We later met her daughter too and it turns out, we were renting the apartment that belonged to an aunt!   

I loved the way her boutique & some of the other shops on that street, created this lovely inviting feel outside the store.


Outside the Rose de Bagatelle, there was a beautiful birdcage with roses, hung alongside the apparel. It was eye-catching.

I asked Nanou where & how she'd found so many beautiful things to decorate her shop with. It turns out she had DIY-ed most of it!

There was a pastel lavender & blue canopy at the entrance of her shop, above the door. It was magnificent. (unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it!).  She had taken the canopy from an old crib that belonged to her daughter, repainted it and converted it into a unique entryway to her store. 

It's this natural creativity & flair that I find super appealing about the French.


One of the boutiques had their wares laid out on benches, or hanging off small flower pots. Cute.


simple & charming floral entryways

Almost every home we walked past, had beautiful flower arrangements and potted plants at the entrance. The homes were painted in shades of ochre & the pots and flowers were a nice contrast and gave them a touch of charm. Plum and lime green planters, poppies growing alongside the window sill or a camellia swinging gracefully in a pot, were always just the right touch. 

There's LOTS more I could share with you here from my time in Provence, but I'm going to wind up for now. I'll share more in bits & pieces in future posts!

Have you traveled to a new country or city recently? And what's something you've loved about it? Tell me below.


A delicious French face mask for spring!

"In truth, our so-called effortless charm is nothing more than intentional calculations based on one holy principle - enhance your natural beauty."
                                                - Julie Levoyer, Beauty Director of Stylist Magazine France


That's such a great beauty principle to live by: enhance your natural beauty!  I admire that about our French sisters: the ability to be super comfortable in their own skin. Literally.

Audrey Hepburn, who was known for her natural beauty routines. 

Audrey Hepburn, who was known for her natural beauty routines. 

I found this super simple & luxurious French face mask, a prized beauty secret, in The Paris Bath & Beauty Book, that I thought was worth sharing with you here. 

It's a Smoothing & Brightening Grape Face Mask. An indulgent treat for the skin & perfect, as we go into spring! Grapes have all the good stuff in them - anti-oxidants and essential oils that are supposed to be super hydrating.

For me, it's important to find beauty routines that are simple, otherwise I may never get around to them :) This one's super simple. 3 ingredients, 5 minutes to make.

I tried it out last week and it made my face look really smooth & fresh. The cooling effect lasted all day.    

3 ingredients:
8-10 red or black grapes
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons gram flour 

3 steps:
1. Mash the grapes in a bowl (you can use a potato masher or a hand blender, but keep the setting on low so it's more pulpy & less watery)
2. Add the olive oil & gram flour to the grapes, mix everything into a nice thick paste.
3. Apply it on your face (preferably leaning over the sink :)) and leave it on for a good 15 minutes. Wash it off with warm water.

Voila! You're face will look and feel rejuvenated.

How often should you apply this mask? It's a good idea to include a face mask in your weekly beauty routine. 1-2 times a week. 

Club the mask with a feel-good movie (because, why not?) and take your relaxation to the next level :) I recommend Leap Year or episodes of The Paradise (they never get old!). 

Let me know if you found this helpful. And if you have a favorite beauty ritual of your own, share it with me in the comments below.

France Diaries - Part 1

I've wanted to go to France since the day my roommate back in college, handed me this delicious little book - A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle - and insisted that I read it.

I read it straight, in one night, and fell irrevocably in love. 

I imagined myself in this quaint village in the South of France.  Meeting the locals (like the eccentric butcher), going to it's cafes (Cafe Gaby, at the center of the village square, was my favorite!) and walking through its beautiful lavender fields. 

I decided right there and then, that I'd have to go here one day. For real. It went STRAIGHT to the top my bucket list!

Finally last year, in the summer of 2016 - it happened.. 

We decided our destination for the year was going to be France. We'd go to Paris, Provence & Nice. I was chief planner & scheduled a cool 5 day stay in Lourmarin...the French village of my dreams!

During our 13-day trip through France, I experienced so many different things, it's hard to put it all into words. It was like an art, design, nature.... LIFE awakening for me.  

From the style and charm of Paris to the quaint picturesque villages of Provence to the flirty little coastal city of Nice - I was blown away!

Paris and Provence left a HUGE impression on me. 

Paris was full of art & design inspiration. Provence set me free!
Paris filled me to the brim with an appreciation for Van Gogh & Monet. Provence took me to their source of inspiration - NATURE.
Paris left me stunned with the beautiful product packaging and window displays we saw there. Provence showed me THE. REAL. THING. - aromatic lavender and roses that literally melted my heart!

Paris had my heart. But with Provence I felt a soul-connect. 

This one trip taught me so much about nature, art, design, product packaging, gifting, fashion, presentation & great service. I took a ton of pictures & made lots of notes!

A few specific things left a huge impact on me. I thought I'd break it down and give you a fun, visual insight into them (with lots of pretty pictures!). 

In this post, I'll share with you,

1. beautiful window displays that had me do a double take!
2. some exquisite products & packaging

beautiful window displays

As we walked through the streets of Paris, we'd see one striking display after another. I noticed that my favorite ones were not the extravagant ones. But the ones that created a feeling of delight with simple elements.


Take a look at this display for Roger & Gallet's Rose perfume. It's a feminine, floral fantasy - the bottles perched amidst a field of pink rose pompons. It was gor-jus! and made me walk right into the store.

roger & gallet rose pompon window display 1.jpg


Let's see if you can guess what  these are at first glance?

meats & roses creative window display.jpg

The display looked pretty from a distance... but what were they?


meats & roses creative window display 2.jpg

Meats & meat products! The red roses against the meat is GENIUS.

Imagine a bunch of boring meat stacked in there. You wouldn't give it a second glance! The roses do the trick. They had me do a double take. This was a delightful surprise in the heart of Le Marais, one of Paris' trendy/fashionable/artsy districts.


And finally, there was this dreamy display for Maille mustards!

Delicious looking mustard bottles against the backdrop of  a secret garden. The paper-cut garden has been inspired by Jardin's Secrets, a famous estate known for it's beautiful gardens.

Notice the "feel" this setup creates -  a fantasy garden you want to walk right into. Buy the mustard & you're there :)  Also the mustard bottles are adorable - those colors!

maille mustard window display.jpg

exquisite packaging

I saw some lovely colors in a lot of the product packaging in France. They tended to be a combination of pastel & pop colors. 


Case in point, Roger & Gallet scented lotions. Eye-catching from a mile away! A mix of mandarin yellow, leafy green, blush pink, peach & lavender.


On the other hand, Kusmi Tea's packaging used striking colors - sea foam green, rani pink, deep water blue & bright yellow. It was a standout display and one I was instantly drawn to..


 La Sablesienne's fresh, gourmet all-butter biscuits are packaged in a way that convey the brand's rich history. 

The biscuits had first been presented in The Royal Court of Louis by Marquise de Sablé in July 1670. And the recipe has been passed on from one generation of Sablé pastry chefs  to the next.

The round shaped tin box, with an elegant pink & gold Baroque design exudes old world luxury.


One of THE most elegant packaging designs I came across, was this packaging of the Fragonard - Iris Perfume collection. I didn't have a good image so I pulled one off their site.

How gorgeous is this packaging!  We hung out in the Fragonard store for a good 30 minutes and kept coming back to THIS.  The scent is lovely, but it's the dreamy field of irises that take your breath away! 

Hopefully you got some inspiration & ideas from this post. Or even just enjoyed the visuals (I'm a sucker for beautiful visuals, and can spend hours looking at things, no jokes!)

Next week I'll take you to the land of my dreams - Provence. Stay tuned!


P.S. What do you enjoy about travelling? Is there something specific you've absolutely LOVED on a recent trip? Tell me about it!