Friday, 22 June 2012

Packing for Provence!

We have been house-bound today as we prepare for our journey from Boussac to Lacoste tomorrow morning - approximately 5-6 hours drive ( we hope).   Everyone has been looking forward to a family holiday near Lacoste where we have taken a house for 3 weeks. Today has been spent  packing, gathering stray items from all over the house,  finding little toys beneath sofas, folding clothes in the laundry and stuffing clothes into bags!  Last minute ironing has been done and I have cooked a big pot of bolognese, which I will freeze tonight so that tomorrow night's dinner is catered for as we will all be rather tired.   Kristiina (my daughter-in-law), her little daughter Isabel and Claire ( youngest daughter)  are in Paris and will take the TGV down to Avignon tomorrow, from where they will drive to meet us in Lacoste.   Our son Alex  left Paris this morning for Iceland to attend a Stag party!  Honestly, I shake my head sometimes at the creative destinations that weddings etc are held in these days!  When I was young, weddings took place in ones home town.. and often in the back garden!  The world is getting smaller I know! Alex arrives in Lacoste on Sunday and Kirk, Sarah's husband arrives on 30th June.

Yesterday was our last market day here in Boussac and what a lively market it was. French music blaring out over the square, new stalls and the aroma of coffee and fresh produce!    The  villages, towns and markets are so colourful in Provence, and  I  look forward to visiting/blogging about them as well.

Fresh from the orchard

what a stylish arrangement - and the colour of the year as well!

Dutch cookies cooling!

Knives galore

Thursday lunch is always a "poulet roti".. they are delicious!
I bought a couple of rings for Claire (youngest daughter)

Fresh from the orchard
Aren't they beautiful?

Traditional Saucisson
I spotted her and managed to get a great pose!

A couple of photos on the walk home... Sarah and I peaked into the beautiful old 15thC church

Virginia creeper/Boston Ivy -  beautiful green

This little ledge built into the stone wall opposite our house where we often scatter birdseed.

The most delicious lunch!

The good news is that the weather in Provence is wonderful and this will make a welcome change to the very inclement weather we have had here in Boussac for the past two weeks!  

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Prieure d'orsan -  Loire Valley, France

There is a very special garden quite close to Boussac.    The Prieure d'orsan has been open to the public since 1993, and is now Relais & Chateaux approved, with eight guest rooms and an excellent restaurant.   This garden has become a sought-after destination for serious gardeners.

When Patrice Taravella, a successful Parisian architect and Sonia Leson, acquired this property near Maisonnais in the Loire Valley, in 1991, it was a ruin.  Several derelict buildings surrounded by barren land.  They saw the architectural possibilities, but "we needed to smell the air first," says Taravella, so they lived there for a year before the idea came to make a garden.  With the help of local gardener Gilles Guillot, the art of gardening from the pre-Renaissance times has been brought back to life.  Plentiful plantings of Hornbeams  have been hedged, fenced and coaxed to form  arbours, arches and buttresses, support structures, pyramids, circles and more.  There are raised flower beds,a  kitchen-garden, orchards, medicinal herb gardens, a rose garden and a secret garden... all so characteristic of monastery gardens.  

The out-buildings house a reception area and a restaurant offering  high-quality produce from the orchard and kitchen-gardens.  There is also an exhibition centre featuring exhibits relating to nature, gardens and landscapes.  The shop in the reception area is adorable - selling lovely items for the garden as well as books, gifts, etc.

We never tire of visiting this garden and have delighted the many guests we have taken here.  Please put this on your to-do lists when next visiting France, as I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

The photos are my own and to read more about this garden and hotel,  please click here

The Orchard

The Potager

I love the naive heart hugging the window

The Rose Garden

Apple trees trained to grow against the walls.


Patrice Taravella was recently commissioned to design a similar garden in South Africa.  This garden can be seen at Babylonstoren.   During a recent visit, we drove to Somerset West, not far from Cape Town to view the garden.  As the climate is completely different from the Loire Valley, some of the structures are similar but the choice of plants is very different.  The garden is still in it's infancy,  and I look forward to seeing it in years to come.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

There are cold, grey clouds and rain over Boussac at the moment and summer and warmer days are a distant memory!   

Looking back at the photos of the market on Thursday,  I can't believe that we are in the same week!  The temperature in Boussac is 11deg C this morning and Paris is no warmer.  I see that London is very cold as well.  This little family all have a dose of cabin fever and I think an outing to La Chatre this afternoon might do the trick.  To cheer myself up, I am writing about our visit to the market last Thursday.

The market in Boussac happens all year round.. which means that it relies very little on tourism and largely on the local community.  As it is the beginning of June, this week's market was quite small but luckily the weather was great!  My daughter Sarah, grand-daughter Kitty and Mr R-I put on brave faces as we left the house.  They had arrived the evening before after an arduous journey from Australia!   Baskets in hand,  we headed towards the square, happy that the sun was shining which would hopefully help the jet-lag!   Kitty was in a daze most of the morning,  but a fun time was had by all.  The markets increase in size as the summer moves along and by August, this small quiet town is quite crowded on Market day.

Mum and Grandpa
A very tired little person!

Beautiful large bowls from Morocco

 Bread from a local artisan bakery displayed in a rustic way

Delicious local cheeses

White asparagus - delicious and in season now

Miss Kitty had this hat off in just a few seconds!

 Soaps from Marseille which I always buy to take home

Herbs for sale 

which Mr R-I planted here  to last the summer!

Colourful woven bracelets from Morocco

Always difficult to choose a sweet melon

Delightful gentleman from Holland who makes these delicious sesame/coconut cookies on market day!

which are enjoyed later with a cup of tea.