One of my longtime dreams was to visit the lavender fields of Provence. In my mind, nothing could be more romantic; it was like a fairytale you could experience, something magical. And in 2015 I was lucky enough to finally be able to go. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, Roman structures (some still in use so they can’t be called ruins), and, of course, lavender fields, Provence really is magical. When I was there my guide (Elodie of Provence Authentic) told me the fields are disappearing as farmers replace them with more profitable grapevines, which would be like Paris taking down the Eiffel tower to put up highrises. If you ever have a chance to visit the Luberon, the region where these fields were located, take it– while the lavender, and so much of the magic, is still there.
By the way, the smell was incredible. Forget whatever you think lavender smells like– there’s nothing like an entire sun-warmed field of these flowers.
In the next photo, you can just make out a castle on the hill in the background. Apparently it once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. When I was there it was owned by designer Pierre Cardin, who was raising money to restore it. I wonder how that went…
Some local wildlife…
Have you visited any lavender fields, in France or anywhere else? Share in the comments…
Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by actual events (there aren’t any lavender fields, but there are vampires.)
Since travelling right now is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, I’m sharing pictures of my past trip to Provence, France. Why not be inspired by where we’ve been while we dream about where we’d like to go?
In June 2015, after years of drooling over pictures and other people’s stories, I finally had the chance to visit Provence. While I was there I stayed in Carpentras, a town in the Vaucluse region of Provence with a fascinating history, a fantastic weekly marché (market), and a name that’s really difficult to pronounce if you’ve never heard it before! Why didn’t this video exist five years ago?
It’s also the centre of the truffle trade for the region (unfortunately I was there too late for truffle season). I think it would take many visits at all different times of the year to fully appreciate Carpentras. For now, here are a few shots I took during my brief time there. Enjoy…
My favourite part of Carpentras was probably the Roman arch (located behind the Palais de Justice). Provence actually has many Romans ruins and structures (farmers still use Roman-built aqueducts to water non-edible crops like lavender!) If I ever get to go back, I’m going to take a tour of all things Roman 🙂
Carpentras also produces a local specialty called Berlingots:
They were invented by a candy maker who wanted to find a way to use the syrup left over from making candied fruit. Now Carpentras is known for them– make sure to pick some up if you ever get the chance.
What’s a favourite place you’ve visited? Share in the comments…
Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by a true story (did I mention there are also vampires?)
Book lovers are dreamers. We dream of other worlds and other lives. We dream of what we just finished reading and what we’re going to read next. We dream of homes crammed with our book collections, libraries that never close, and cozy local bookshops where we can spend massive quantities of both time and money. And some book lovers dream of entire towns devoted to books and then make them a reality. Did you know there are dozens of book towns around the world (enough that one writer even wrote a book about them)? At a time when so many events have been cancelled and travel is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, dreaming is more important than ever. Here are five book towns to dream about (and where one day, hopefully, you’ll be able to live your dreams).
Have you been to any book towns? Which are your favourites? Share in the comments…
Probably the best known of all the book towns, and credited with inventing the concept, Hay-on-Wye is home to numerous book and antiques shops. It hosts the Hay Festival, a literary event that (normally) travels to other cities throughout the year (click the link to watch this year’s events online). There’s also a castle.
A Medieval village, St. Pierre de Clages is Switzerland’s only book town. The town specializes in antiquarian booksellers, but that’s not all you’ll find there. They also host an annual book festival that’s described as a must for “book lovers, amateur readers, history buffs or fans of comic books.” (No word on what’s happening with the festival in 2020, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s cancelled.)
One of the newer book towns, Featherston has already established itself as a place for book lovers. Its annual Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival, usually held in May, was postponed, but a Words in Winter event is currently taking place until August– key features include author talks and book signings.
Located in the Catskills (New York), Hobart was essentially a ghost town not too long ago. Now it’s a dedicated book town with stores featuring books on topics ranging from American history and feminism to vintage cookbooks and craft books. Massive book sales are held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and Hobart also hosts their Festival of Women Writers (currently postponed but there may be virtual events).
Sidney is Canada’s only book town, as far as I can tell (something they’ve apparently been claiming since the 1990s). Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, Sidney bookstores include new, used, and antiquarian books on everything from military history to classic children’s fiction. There’s a special focus on local authors and culture, and many stores hold regular events. Most books are in English, but you can also find a good selection of Japanese and Chinese titles. There’s also the annual Sidney LitFest (returning in 2021).
These are just a few of the dozens of book towns that exist around the world (although most seem to be in Europe, hopefully this concept will catch on). You can find out about more book towns here and here.
If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
Since travelling is off the table for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d share some photos from a past trip. I was lucky enough to visit beautiful Vancouver on Canada’s west coast back in April 2018. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend it. Mountains, ocean, gorgeous gardens, good coffee, friendly people. Some take issue with all the rain Vancouver tends to get, but I found it cozy (I also noticed it tended to clear up by early afternoon on most days anyway). I hope I can go back again– there was so much I didn’t get to see last time (like whales!)