Monday, September 29, 2014

The South of France




I have never walked into a country town I liked and not looked in the real estate window whilst dreaming of buying property there. Yesterday in the South of France was no exception. We drove into a few little perched towns. My favourite of which, was a town called Goult. There was a house there for sale for about 350,000 Euro, built in the 1700's. It's the one the kids are sitting in front of on the rock with the olive tree out the front. It was bulging with olives ready for harvest, the shutters had chippy paint and were just hanging in there and the whole thing had "buying trouble" written all over it.  So why was I in my element standing in front of that house and considering the possibilities? 



 Who can say? I cannot explain my love for France, but it is there all the same.

It's all a dream, because as Mr Beach House said,  'What would you do here?" It's true, once you have done the sites, there's also  alot of sitting around and drinking and eating. You do notice first drinks being poured at around 10am in these parts, as you sit next to these guys sipping your coffee. And I can feel my hips spreading by the day. 

 We don't speak good enough French to run a business, or survive the French red tape of living here, which is affectionately avoided by the French using the system known by the locals as " Le system D". 

   If you want a laugh you can read about what Le System D is here.  It explains why I stood for 10 minutes the other day at the tourist office in Gordes, while the lady behind the desk finished up making her social arrangements on the phone for that Friday evening, before she would even acknowledge my presence in front of her.  Or why at Le Mont Saint Michel, I was left standing at the ticket desk, whilst about three tourist guides pushed passed me to buy up to 50 tickets at a time, which all had to be printed out one by one and signed for, before I could get a look in.  Apparently if they don't make eye contact with me, I don't exist and therefore there is no queue, there is only them. 

 So despite all that and although it's highly temping to up stumps and move the family over here, wholus bolus, I bet the first hint of the Mistral amongst other things, would send me packing back to the moderate climes of the Australian coast anyway.  But it is fun to be part of the last throws of Summer in the South of France and dream of what might be.  Despite it all being a dream and the fact that, the Northern Beaches of Sydney are just as nice, only very very different from this part of the planet, that certain je ne sais quoi will make it very hard for me to leave France and all her quirky in your face rudeness and charms and return home just the same.


Just as an aside, the sculptures you will see further down in this post are owned by Pierre Cardin, who has partially renovated the Chateau in the perched village of Lacoste, which was ruined as so many were, during the Revolution.  The sculptures depict the Marquis of Sade, who built the Chateau and who gave his name to the term "sadism".  He presided over well celebrated orgies in the town and was known to kidnap peasants and do awful things to them.  Ultimately he was convicted and gaoled for 30 years for his sadistic pursuits..


Some query whether Pierre Cardin's lavish sponsorship of operas in the town these days, is leading to a new phenomenon known as Cardinism. Who cares as La vie certainly is belle in the South of France.



























I hope you enjoyed a little trip around some of the pretty towns of the Department of Vaucluse in the South of France. 

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Apartment in Normandy Port en Bessin

Our Apartment in Normandy Port en Bessin

If you are at all interested in a beautiful little spot in Normandy whilst you are taking a look at the  D Day Landing Beaches or the Calvados, camembert and apples, which the region is famous for, then Port on Bessin is your place.  As for the war, every human being enjoying the freedoms we do today,  should try to get here at some point in their lifetime, if they get the chance.  We owe those brave souls  who landed on the beaches and cliffs, so far from home, so very very much.  The movies and the history lessons we learned at school made it look easy, but it is clear from what they were asked to do, it was anything but.



If you are interested in any or all of the above, Port en Bessin is a fabulous base from which to launch yourself.  I will do a whole post about the town of Port en Bessin and her fascinating surrounds, but today's post is to show you our apartment.  Homemakers hold on to your hats, this one is fabulous.  I did show you some shots, when I booked it back in November last year, but now I have some really intimate ones and I hope you enjoy them.  The apartment is located right in the heart of the American Sector of the Landing Beaches and quite close to the American war cemetery and apart from it's beautiful decor, this is why I chose it, because it is very well located.


The apartment is known as


The kitchen is completely fabulous and very well appointed with a lovely view over the little fishing harbour.




As with most French properties, you have to be happy with stairs and lots of them.


There is a queen size bed and two singles in the other bedroom.  The lounge suite is in the parents room and the kids have a little pirates hide away, or can hang in the kitchen if they want to watch the second TV.


There's a little writing desk in the kids' bedroom.




and a little cashe of kids toys.









The bathroom is well appointed with plenty of towels to last you for the week.. There is also a washer and a dryer in here.


There is a second WC up stairs adjacent to the bedrooms. Which is handy when you have drunk a little too much rose at dinner.


If you would like to stay at Port on Bessin you can find out more information here.

Just so you know, we paid our own way at L'Espirit du Port.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Paris Department Stores,The Opera House and Jardin du Luxemborg

Paris Opera House

This is an extract from my diary describing a typical day in Paris.

I can feel I am getting fatter.  Not good, but how can you watch your weight in Paris?  Today was huge. We went into the interiors of the Paris Opera House.



 It almost puts the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles to shame.  Absolutely amazing decadence and no queue, so my kind of attraction.  







The Grand Foyer was just mind blowing and was created for the opera attendees to socialise and to see and be seen.




Just near the Opera House are the famous department stores Galeries Lafayette and Pringtemps. We had a quick coffee on the 9th floor of Pringtemps. The outlook is totally cool and it is pretty much devoid of tourists. 



Sacre Coeur at Montmartre

Paris Roof tops from Pringtemps



I can never tire of those views, because from Pringtemps they are free.  The coffee is only $5 not $10, as in most of the bistros around Paris.  $40 for morning coffee/hot chocolate for four daily, is a bit rich.


The most luxurious shopping is to be had at Galeries Lafayette.  The dome is completely stunning and not to be missed.


  All the great brands are there.  There are several buildings. Make sure you go into the one on Boulevard Haussmann and look up. It will make your day.


 It is awe inspiring.  There are beautiful little cafes and lunch spots in Galeries LaFayette and the 8th floor has a lovely terrace with fabulous views of Paris and an Alfresco Italian Restaurant.


We then took some lunch in Foyer de la Madeleine.  It's a very affordable way to eat in Paris and you can read about that here.



After lunch we took the metro to Jardin du Luxemborg for a sit amongst the beautiful flowers.  The gardeners change them every two weeks ,so they are always pristine.



  BTW that leaf the Littlest Beach House Brat is holding is real.  The Garden also houses the Senate, which equals lots of police, so happily no Gypsies asking us to sign a petition.






We walked home through the Quartier Latin, past Notre Dame (the bells were ringing) and also the Hotel de Ville, (town hall) where in typical fashion, the Parisians were sitting on lounge chairs taking in the last of the Summer sun.

Quartier Latin

Notre Dame

Hotel De Ville


That day we occasionally rode the Metro and were entertained by buskers, as only Paris could put on. The puppet show on the train was amusing and those guys in the band really deserve to be on a real stage.






I hope you enjoyed Paris for a day.

For more travel stories go here.

If you would like Desire Empire posts to come straight to your inbox every ten days or so, you can sign up here for my Newsletter.

You can pin any of these shots by hovering over the shot and clicking on the  'P'.

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