Ann's Blog

Published on August 20th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard


Our Delightful Guests In Provence

I so wanted to blog to you each day when I was in France with our tour group this June, but I couldn’t.

Something prevented me from hitting the keyboard despite being surrounded by beautiful French countryside, and I really do mean beautiful.  (More about that blogging  slackness in a minute.)

France Tour 2014 ann

How about this pool…and forgive my pose.

France in June is gorgeous.  We go there every year at the same time and we always experience the longest day – June 21 – which is the shortest day here.  The twilight lingers for hours and hours…it doesn’t get dark until around 11pm and that means the day just goes on and on and on.

France Tour 2014

Enjoying the long evenings…and love those 7pm cocktails.

Long summer days are excellent for touring, especially trips  to all the iconic Provencal towns and villages.

France Tour 2014

Our adorable guests…we need a new word for adorable.

We usually set off around 10 in the morning after breakfast of beautiful French bread and conserves and the sweet apricots and cherries in season – although this year our guests couldn’t go past the Greek yogurt from supermarket Carrefour – they devoured it with the fruit in favour of the bread, which in a way was good because it left more bread for me.

France Tour 2014

On one of our day tours…in the lavender fields.

Anyway, we’d set off around 10am and go to places such as Les Baux des Provence, Avignon, Arles, Roussillon, Gordes, and have lovely days there and then get home to our swish maison among the vineyards and the hayfields around 4pm, and then still have hours of daylight left.  This meant we could have little naps or laze by the pool or drink more pink wine (mandatory) and then still have hours more of the day left.

France Tour 2014

Look at us with the vines in the backgroud. Our Alaskan friends, Brenda and Julie on the far left and behind. That’s Leslie in the front of them.

Oh, lovely, it was.  So very lovely.

We’d have cocktails around 7 in the evening (yes, after the wine) knowing there was still so much of the night ahead.

France Tour 2014

Those long nights in Provence…and yes, we partied.

each day languished its way into twilight and then into long evening and the weather was perfect and the maison was so fancy (actually it was a mansion) and we were all so very happy.

So why didn’t I blog about all this loveliness?   I just couldn’t bring myself to leave my lovely guests and hit the laptop.

France Tour 2014

With our darling Michel, who does the best paella…and drag….!!

You know what it’s like when you host a dinner party?  How you become anxious that everyone is enjoying themselves? You spend the day preparing, make sure the house is clean and tidy, set the table, cook your heart out?   When the guests arrive you flutter about them? Then when it’s underway you keep checking that all the guests are getting on, and the conversation is flowing and everyone is having a good time…because you are THE HOST…(hopefully with the most.)  The anxiety kicks in a little, not that you are anxious or nervous,  just keen for everyone to have a good time.  You know the feeling, no?

France Tour 2014

See how fabulous we are?

Well, that’s what it is like for me the entire 2 weeks of our tour.  I’m the host you see (with the MOST…really.)  So my whole being for the duration is to care for my guests and make sure every single one of them is happy at all times.  Their happiness is my responsibility. That is why I have no power to write or do anything other than worry about them.

Fortunately, all the guests were adorable.  Actually, we need a new word for adorable.  They were beyond adorable.  Everyone ‘got’ each other.  We had two beautiful ladies from Alaska.  Yes, Alaska.

France Tour 2014

Brenda and Julie…left to right…our new love of Alaska…and there’s Leslie from WA.

How did two women from Alaska find me here in this regional town in Queensland, you might ask?  And why did they decide to come on tour to Provence with me?  The mind questions such an occurrence.

France Tour 2014

Outside one of our Michelin star dining experiences.

Can you believe they actually found my book, Ooh La La, A Romp in Alaska (how did it get there?), decided they liked the sound of me and the tours I did, and then they had the courage to contact me and make a booking to come on tour with me knowing that they would most likely be with a bunch of Aussies.  Brave, no?

France Tour 2014

Julie from Alaska celebrated her birthday with us, with cake made by Jayne…and what is that balloon?

Anyway, Brenda and Julie were their names and the minute we met them at Avignon TGV station (our pick up point every year) we felt as though we’d known them forever.

France Tour 2014

Lunching in Uzes..waiting on the good times.

They not only took to us Aussies, but enchanted us with their lovely accents and their many tales of their lifestyle in such a magnificent country.  Imagine not only catching your own salmon in such abundance you have to give it away to all your many mates, but imagine canning it in your own backyard?  That’s what these cool ladies do with their families.  And imagine going out into your own backyard to put out the washing, but having to check first, look right and left at your back door, to be sure a curious moose hadn’t wandered in and might just be in the mood to kick you in the nether regions.   Imagine too going for a Sunday afternoon boat ride on your local river, rounding a bend, and coming face to face with a giant brown bear that’d just caught a salmon and had it in his paws.  Thrilling, no?   We were all fascinated with their Alaskan stories.

France Tour 2014

Yet more dining and wining…this time in a garden restaurant in Uzes.

Not that the rest of us didn’t have our own stories – we kept up – and those gorgeous Alaskans loved hearing about Australia.

Our guests were all fascinating.  We had Leslie and Jill from WA, Karen from NSW, Sharon from Queensland and Jayne from Brisbane.  Sadly, very sadly (I was distraught) two of our guests, Lyn and Richard took ill (well, Richard did) in Paris and couldn’t make it.  Devastated.

France Tour 2014

Love this restaurant in Castillion du Gard…let’s go back next year.

So our beautiful group this year all bonded, loved each other’s company, respected each other and…this is the strange bit…quite liked me.  It goes without saying they adored The Man Geoffrey who, I might say, kept their wine glasses topped up for the entire 2 weeks.

We have all made new friends and…that’s what happens when you come on tour with Ann and Geoffrey.

France Tour 2014

Well, the Man Geoffrey had to get a look in, didn’t he?

Tell you more later now that I am home and am not hosting anyone (apart from The Man Geoffrey) and have lots of head space to spare so I can write, write, write and blog, blog, blog.

Tour Itinerary


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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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