Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dining in Fayence

Among the many nice things about staying at the Four Seasons Provence is its close proximity to a number of charming medieval villages, including Fayence.

Fayence, built on a hillside and composed of eight beautiful "perched villages," lies just minutes from the Mediterranean coast. It dates to 909 A.D., and its name (in Latin) translates to "a favorable location."

Today, Fayence is home to dozens of twisting narrow streets and shady squares, all beautiful and bustling with locals and tourists popping in and out of a variety of tiny shops, bars and gourmet cafes.

My traveling buddies and I were driven over to Fayence for dinner tonight — to eat at a popular and very typical French bistro, Le Restaurant de France  (shown here).

The restaurant is housed in an ancient building, and the atmosphere was just what you would hope to find — warm and cozy and intimate. 

The owner had pre-selected the menu for the night, and all of us were delighted. Multiple courses - including two featuring seafood and lamb - were creatively seasoned and prepared in pleasant and surprising ways. Fine Rose wine from the Provence region was the perfect companion. The dessert — an apple tort with ice cream — was special and oh so rich! By the time it came, we were stuffed, but still we ate it all.

Important to note: We journalists never diet on official press trips! We can diet at home!

Tasting Wine

Happy hour was, indeed, just that this evening when our hosts surprised us with a very special wine tasting in the private wine cellar of the Four Seasons Provence.

Star of the event was the wine itself — reds, whites  and roses — all from the region of Provence.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Pool at Le Spa

After a couple of hours of R&R in my villa at the Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche, I headed over to Le Spa for its 50-minute Signature Massage — a treat that couldn't be more welcomed, especially after my long day of travel from Houston.

After signing in at the registration desk, I was led past the spa's palatial indoor pool on the way to the women's lounge and locker room. I couldn't help but pause and take a really good look at the pool. The size of it was amazing, and its beauty unmatched by any spa I'd ever seen. Standing there, all I could think to say was WOW!

When I got into the treatment room, the masseuse encouraged me to relax, close my eyes and think of a place I'd like to visit.

She suggested, "Perhaps it's a place with a large body of water and lounge chairs nearby that you can lie down on? Perhaps it's a place you've always dreamed of going?"

Perhaps she too was thinking of the pool at Le Spa. Or, perhaps, she had become accustomed to water-loving visitors like me who, at that precise moment, couldn't possibly be thinking of any place else.

Welcome to Provence

The shuttle picked us up at the Nice Cote d'Azur Airport about noon and drove us directly to the Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche. The drive took about 45 minutes and took us into some of the region's most beautiful countryside. Knowing our itinerary called for another drive through Provence's hills and valleys later on — in a couple days — made the short trip a great prelude to our longer trip to come.

Upon arrival, we were met and warmly welcomed by the resort's most handsome general manager and various members of his staff. All were carrying bouquets of fresh flowers for us to take and enjoy in our private villas.

We were not troubled by the formalities of check-in. We were guests, and from moment one, we were treated as royal ones. So, so nice!

Within minutes, the six of us were hopping in golf cart-like transports and, with bags in tow, being carted off to see our private villas. Because I would be playing golf during my stay, mine was situated on a hillside overlooking one of the picture-perfect courses.
The villa, like all of the accommodations at the Four Seasons Provence, is self-contained. The interior is bright and airy, and the decor features natural wood and stone finishes. The artwork is striking and Provencal in spirit.

There is a separate living room and large and luxurious bedroom. The bath is over-the-top when it comes to beauty and comfort. There's a deep-soaking tub, separate glass-walled shower, double vanity. The Provencial tiles are colorful and charming. There is a large picture window too. At this time of day, it floods the room with sunshine.

There are French doors that open onto a private large terrace. From the lounge chair, I am enchanted by the distant views of the valley and mountains and villages of Fayence and Tourrettes.
The terrace and its views have lured me outside. I am writing now, stretched out on a cushioned lounge chair. My lunch and a glass of Rose wine from Provence are sitting on a small table to my right. Both are refreshing and tasty, though, neither are quite as delicious as simply being here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flying to France

It's 4 p.m., and I'm sitting in an Air France jumbo jet, settling in and waiting for take-off.

I'm thinking about today's assignment: to travel to France to learn and write about some very special places.

Admittedly, I'm eager for the plane's wheels to speed down the runway and lift off. I'm heading to Paris tonight, and then on to the airport in Nice tomorrow morning. After that, it will be a drive to Provence. In all, I'll be traveling for more than 13 hours.

But, I've gotten lucky. The plane isn't crowded, and I've been given three full seats. I'll be able to stretch out after dinner and relax more comfortably. Perhaps, I'll even be able to get some sleep.

If not, I've come prepared. I have brought along my laptop for writing blog posts when so inspired (like now), my Kindle on which I've downloaded more than 60 titles, a brand-new crossword puzzle book with more than 300 puzzles (including my favorite Sudoku), the newest issue of FastCompany and lots of info on the Four Seasons Provence Terre Blanche — my luxurious final destination.

We've not taken off yet but already I'm in heaven!