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Ah Provence!  My recent visit to the Luberon Valley (Little Luberon) didn’t disappoint despite only having three days to tour the region.  There is nothing quite like getting lost in the French countryside, visiting markets, truly eating farm to table, and sampling some seriously good wine.  Oh, and the olive oil!


LA BASTIDE DE MARIE in Menerbes was our home base.  I think I cried when we arrived, it was so beautiful.  Think old world French country with clean, modern updates like glass shower doors, heated floors, flat panel TV’s, etc.  Set in a valley among vineyards (visit their winery) and under a blue sky, the setting is sublime. 


When we arrived at La Bastide de Marie, they asked us if we wanted the meal package that included breakfast, tea and dinner daily.  We declined, saying we wanted to experience the region.  So much for that!  After dinner there the first night, we jumped at the package, looking forward to one exquisite meal after another, all walking distance from our room.  Upon arriving to dinner, guests help themselves to hors d’oeuvres like tapenade, jamon iberico, radishes and cherry tomatoes from the garden, and are encouraged to sit by the fire and have an aperitif before dining.   Dinner is served on the glass enclosed terrace with the daily menu written on a blackboard.  Local cuisine with some Spanish influences.  We learned that people come from all over the region to dine there, and I understand why.

LE BISTROT DECOUVERTE in St-Remy-de-Provence was a wonderful spot for a traditional Provencal lunch outside on the terrace.  Superb. 


Of course you must rent a car and tour the region.  We didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked since we only had three days, but what we saw was enough for me to want to book another trip next summer!

A visit to CHATEAU D’ESTOUBLON in Fontvieille offers tours of their olive grove and vineyard, as well as tastings and shopping.

Visit the markets.  You could go to a different market each day in Provence and never get bored.  We went to an antique market in L’Isle-sur-la Sorgue where I actually found the most beautiful smocked dresses for my daughter.  Set along canals with lots to do, I could easily while the day away here.

The farmers markets are abundant with olive oils, spices, wines, olives, produce and straw bags.  We went to a smaller market in Coustellet where I bought straw market totes and spices.  The market in Apt is bigger, but be sure to check which markets are happening on which days of the week so you can hit as many as possible.  For me, the markets are the best part of visiting here!

A trip to the old town of LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE will give you a workout as you climb up narrow stone walks that wind to the top, revealing a gorgeous view of the valley below and all the way to Arles.  Considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, you can easily spend a day here visiting the castle, the church, seeing many of the shows they offer, and of course shopping. 


We returned with olive oil from Chateau d’Estoublon.  It comes in a very sexy bottle and I thought it was a great gift.  We brought some home for ourselves and my stepfather. They also make a spray bottle version so you can just spritz your salad or bread.  And did I mention it’s delicious?

I also went nuts buying Provencal straw market totes.  Mine has both top handles and shoulder straps!

Of course I had to buy a tablecloth and agonized over which pretty stripe to get….red, turquoise, yellow.  I settled for a French blue thinking it was the most authentic.

Wine!  I can’t believe we lugged home three bottles of red and rose. We would have brought more of course but we had no room and our luggage was seriously overweight. Shipping isn’t an option (for multiple cases only), so next time we will think ahead and bring another bag!

Fun fact:  It seems almost every town we went to in France had a carousel and each one was more beautiful than the next.


Floaty linen dresses, full leg linen trousers, cotton tees, comfortable sandals and shades.  Don’t forget your Stephanie Johnson Hamptons Sea Jenny Train Case!

Read:  A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

For more must-pack items, check out my Destination Provence collection on!

You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Outstanding in the Field.  Ok, that’s a bold statement, but in a word, OITF is Outstanding.  I’ve been hearing about it for years, so when my friend emailed me this spring announcing that tickets were going on sale, I jumped at the chance.  Apparently I jumped a bit too late, as all the NY area dates were already sold out and I was discovering that procuring tickets for an Outstanding in the Field event was about as easy as getting front row seats at a Katy Perry concert!

The Outstanding in the Field mission:

“Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.”

So, in a new interpretation of a ‘moveable feast,’ OITF, along with local farmers and guest chefs, host dinners at farms across the country and abroad.  Typically, a long table seating about 80 guests is set up on the farm in a flower patch, a sea cave, or among the crops or gardens.  Upon an afternoon arrival, guests enjoy wine from local vineyards and passed hors d’oeuvres made from local farm ingredients. Up next is a tour of the farm, its history, and many crops.  You are seated before sunset and dinner is served family style.

We were able to snag tickets to Earthtrine Farms’ dinner in Ojai, CA.  BD and Liz Dautch were our hosts and Rachel Main from Main Course California was our guest chef.  BD is a charming and passionate man who lovingly declared that his 10 acres are ‘just a big garden.’  His ‘garden’ included a row of fenugreek planted especially for our table to sit upon, fava beans, garlic, and an acre of herbs.  As he showed us around his orange groves and over 100 varieties of basil (!), he shared that he, his wife, and firstborn son are all the sign Taurus, therefore the name Earthtrine Farm, making reference to the astrological triangular relationship of these three earth signs.

Rachel Main cooked a superb meal using the farm’s ingredients, as well as some local seafood.  The Santa Barbara spot prawn salad, chilled lettuce soup with nasturtium and arugula ice cubes, and the carrot purée were all standouts (in fact everyone was so excited over them that the chef promised recipes!)  The dessert was positively sublime….pudding cake with Meyer lemon and thyme, vanilla bean whipped cream, Earthtrine Pakistani mulberries, honey and Santa Barbara pistachio nut brittle.  Are you hungry yet?

Fun fact: it has become tradition to bring your own plate to use for the dinner. It is then collected, washed, and returned to you post meal.  If you forget yours, there is a great big trunk full of plates from which to choose. . .

I so loved this experience, sharing with friends and meeting new ones, and came away with a real desire to eat more ‘farm to table’.  I have decided to start with a small herb garden at home and go from there.  I have also decided to treat myself with another OITF experience in November before the season ends….and so should you!


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