Newsletter #35 July 24, 2016
Bonjour mes amis
I’m writing to you on a beautiful calm, south of France kind of day and I hope you are enjoying a similarly peaceful day, wherever you are.
This header photo above is actually the front entrance to the exchange house we are enjoying in Antibes. Honestly, just opening the gate and seeing that front door when we come home each day is a calming factor in itself!
And there's a resident tortoise in the garden that I have been asked to leave some lettuce and fruit for every morning. His name is Geoff!
A big MERCI to everyone who joined me and my seven other author friends for our Facebook book event on July 12th. We had a record attendance and it was great fun!
Here's what I've been up to since my last letter.
Our two-week stay in Arles, just after my last newsletter, meant I was able to do a lot of research and planning for my current manuscript. It’s such an intriguing town with its Roman history so alive throughout with monuments and sites that are amazingly intact … after 2000 years.
I shared a lot of information and photos about Arles in my last newsletter and in this post on my blog last month.
One of the first things we did was get right over to the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh to see a current exhibit of 31 original paintings by the master. It's on until September, if you are in the area.
A thrill was visiting the Antiquities Museum where a complete Roman transport boat is displayed. It was recovered from the sandy bottom of the Rhône river, that runs by Arles, in 2014. The story of how they managed to recover and preserve the boat is quite remarkable. The danger was that the disintegration of the wood could begin immediately once it was exposed to the air. Here’s a brief video about it.
I was fortunate to spend a day in the Camargue area just south of Arles: a unique, marshy triangular river delta, famous for its white horses, black bulls and pink flamingoes. The remarkable Aigues-Mortes, a medieval walled town is also located there. Have you ever been there?
Part of my next novel is set in this area and it was wonderful to have someone tour me around who is very familiar with the history.
Next, we spent three days in charming Saint-Remy-de-Provence at the delightful Maison-de-Line B&B (within easy walking distance of the old town). I was excited to take my husband to Les Carrières de Lumières near Les Baux. Chagall’s work is featured this year. If you are visiting the area, be sure to take this in!
Before leaving for the coast, I also was fortunate to spend some special days in new (to me) towns. One day Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, founder of Perfectly Provence, toured me around the captivating village of Eygalières. And … bonus … it was market day!
Carolyne introduced me to a talented young woman who creates these gorgeous lavender fuseaux (wands) in the traditional way taught to her by her grandmère. I was glad to know that Carolyne features them for sale in her Atelier on Perfectly Provence. I couldn’t resist and bought three at the market!
On another bright, sunny day, I took a bus from Arles to Uzés where Deborah Bine, The Barefoot Blogger, gave me an insider’s tour. It was so much fun to meet her in person and last week she came to Antibes so I could return the favour.
After all of the terrible events happening around the globe, I feel even more committed to continue writing stories that somehow carry us all away to happier places. In fact, those events compelled me to focus even more on the positive in the manuscript I’m currently working on. Now if I could just stop being distracted by the beauty around me at the moment, I might make more progress!
As always, I am in my happiest place when settled on the Côte d’Azur … and particularly in Antibes, surrounded by the images from my Love In Provence novels. This year we are in the Juan-les-Pins side of Antibes and tonight we're going for dinner at the Hôtel Belles-Rives. Kat and Molly spent an evening there with Nick and Graham in The Promise of Provence. I have a feeling I may sense their presence.
Click here to read the past and current history of the hotel.
Even more so, I hope to feel the spirits of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda ... well, maybe not Zelda who was basically having a breakdown during that time. They lived here when it was the private Villa St. Louis in 1925/26. It was on this property that he penned Tender is the Night, as well as working on aspects of other stories.
In a letter to Hemingway, Fitzgerald wrote, ““With our being back in a nice villa on my beloved Riviera (between Nice and Cannes) I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well.”
It's a pity the rest of his life did not play out that way, but he certainly left the world some excellent novels.
Our teenage granddaughters came from Toronto to spend last week with us. What a joy that was! We loved sharing travels with our children in years past and to have that opportunity with this next generation was special indeed. Have you travelled with grandchildren? I heartily recommend it!
With just a week to take them to some of the places we love, we managed to accomplish a lot and the girls were fabulous company. They also took the best selfies!
More good news for us is that our oldest granddaughter, newly graduated from university as a registered nurse, is arriving here this afternoon. I’m going to hop on the train to Cannes (just two stops) to meet her at the bus station where she is arriving from Barcelona.
I better finish up this letter and spend the next few hours writing!
Here are the winners of Sally Christie’s latest release, our June giveaway:
Ebook: Kara Taylor
Print: Vickilee Miller
Audio: Sandy Pochapin
Congratulations! I’m sure you have already heard from Sally.
This month’s giveaway will be for a gift box of goodies I have been collecting from the French markets I visit on a regular basis. The value of the contents this year will be around $50.00 and they will be items such as French soap, lavender, sea salt, tea towel and other things I can’t resist.
If you would like to enter, you know the drill ~ simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us if you are taking a summer holiday or enjoying a ‘staycation’ at home. We always like to hear what you are up to!
As I've been choosing photos for this letter, I realized I have so much more to share with you. Instead of bombarding you with mail, I'll be writing blog posts about the beautiful places we visited. I you would like to see more, just check on my blog every week. If you care to subscribe to it, you'll automatically know when a new post is written.
My recipe this month is for the classic French sandwich, le croque-monsieur i.e. the French version of a grilled cheese. Every once in a while, it’s a must to eat one!
Stay well, my friends, be kind to one another, read a lot and appreciate every single day. Profitez de tous les jours! I’m reminded on a regular basis that the best part of being an author is hearing from readers. I value the messages I receive from you. Thanks also for sharing my books with your friends and for the reviews you write. It's all most appreciated and inspiring. See you next month!
À bientôt et bon appétit,