Thursday, February 17, 2011

Swimming in the Count's Slipstream

The gloriously romantic inspiration for Marseille's annual Monte Cristo Challenge is, as the name hints, Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. In it, Dumas' hero, Edmund Dantès, escapes from the impregnable Château d'If by swimming to freedom. Click here to read more.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Knights and Elephants in Provence

Nestled in lush countryside a half hour's drive from Aix and 15 minutes from Salon de Provence, the village of La Barben offers an enticing package for children and families: the most beautiful Château in Provence, and the largest zoo. Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

La Caravelle: A Berth on Marseille's Old Port

True to its name, which means a 15th century sailing ship, La Caravelle has a nautical theme for its warm wooden interior, decorated with model ships and marine memorabilia. But the entrance to this very hip little first floor bar with fabulous views across Marseille's Old Port is easy to miss. Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

From Africa to Aix: The Gourmet Chocolates of Puyricard

In the countryside just outside Aix en Provence, Puyricard, a luxury chocolate factory offers tours, courses and, of course, chocolates for sale. It also has an extraordinary story behind it. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Déjà vu?

Just released: this poster image for French actor Daniel Auteuil's first excursion into directing, an adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's The Well-Maker's Daughter, starring the fast-rising Franco-Spanish actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Auteuil himself, you may recall, broke through internationally as the shifty peasant Ugolin in the hit film of Pagnol's Jean de Florette). The new film is set to open in France at the end of April.

If the new image looks strangely familiar, just scroll down this blog to compare it with the iconic still from My Mother's Castle, yet another Pagnol adaptation from 1990. A case of déjà vu -or to put it another way - plus ça change.....   Click here to read more about Daniel Auteuil and The Well-Maker's Daughter.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marseille Bouillabaisse: A Fishy Tale

You can't go to Marseille without eating a bouillabaisse. But first read our ultimate guide to the rich and complex fish stew which the city invented and has made its own: what it is, where to eat it or to learn how to cook it and how some of the city's top chefs are revolutionising this classic dish. Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Restaurant With 2,000 Bottles in the Wine Cellar

On the corner of a pleasant pedestrian area a block back from Marseille's Old Port, 29 Place aux Huileshas become a firm favourite with locals since it opened in October 2007. The reasons: affordable gourmet food, friendly, unpretentious service and a truly fantastic wine cellar. Click here to read more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Marcel Pagnol's Historic Château Set to Reopen its Doors

After decades of languishing in near-ruins, a cornerstone of Marseille's history is set to reopen its doors to the public in May, amid some controversy. Built in 1867, the baroque-kitsch Château Buzine achieved world-wide fame thanks to My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle, Marcel Pagnol's two-volume memoir and the 1990 film versions. Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Cool Kids of Marseille's Cours Julien

The boho-chic Cours Julien quarter of central Marseille is a perfect place to explore with children. The Cours itself (a cours is a wide boulevard) has a large play area with a fountain that's made for paddling surrounded by cafés with outside tables, the street art is colourful and the shop fronts brightly painted and the whole district teems with shops, markets, snack bars and restaurants. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is This the Most Sumptuous B&B in Provence?

With its discreet black-painted door, the sober facade of 28 à Aix, tucked away in an historic 17th century street in the Mazarin Quarter, conceals a voluptuous haven of calm. It's certainly the most luxurious B&B in town, with prices to fit. Click here to read more.