Tag Archives: aix en provence

the ever lovely Aix en Provence

fountains, fountains everywhere!

this trip to Aix en Provence was actually my third. i love it every time and every time for different reasons. the first time i visited it was spring and everything was in crisp & in bloom. the second visit was in the fall and Aix was colorful and romantic with cozy fires lit and warm dinners every evening. this time was full on winter and it was cold in Aix. so cold, in fact, that what struck me most this visit about beautiful Aix en Provence was how many lovely fountains there are all over the city. i hadn’t really noticed them during prior visits but because so many of them were frozen and icy they really stood out. even still, they held a magical beauty.

Aix en Provence has lured many an artist from Cezanne to Van Gogh. today it remains a bustling artsy kind of place that is home to many university students keeping Aix extra lively…just like its fountains. enjoy the photos and visit Aix en Provence if you ever get the chance – you too will be taken by the city’s joie de vivre!

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staying fancy pants in France

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche: a little slice of heaven in the South of France

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche is situated amongst beautiful scenery in the village of Tourrettes just 45 minutes from Nice. this hidden part of Provence has always attracted artists and Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche is no different as it offers a haven of peace surrounded by pure, wild nature. all of the property’s 115 suites cling to the slopes of the hill the same as the homes in view from surrounding mountain top villages. it’s absolutely lovely. so is it’s gorgeous spa. total luxury! BUT that is not the story I want to share…

stunning pool of FS Provence

i began communicating with Four Seasons Provence through twitter and email. they were extremely responsive and made booking my stay a piece of cake sending me a link for the room & rate i requested. next, when i began to inquire about restaurants & wine tastings, the reservations department put the concierge in touch with me. this is when it gets really impressive. the options were so nicely organized by local cuisine or gastronomic dining experiences. i requested to try one of each and for the concierge to choose his favorites. not only did he choose, but went straight on to make the reservation for me. his choices were perfect! (more on this in my eating post) i also challenged this sweet man to finding me a beret to don upon arrival in Provence. he was unwavering in his efforts! (you know this if you read my raspberry beret post) the above & beyond effort is my favorite trip memory and for this, i will always adore both him and Four Seasons Provence.

upon arrival, i was personally welcomed by the travel industry sales manager and a very gracious and eager staff. it’s low season in Provence and the property was very quiet with only 8 rooms booked Friday and 12 on Saturday. it might seem that perhaps this is why i got such exceptional service but in retrospect i believe this is just how they do it at the Four Seasons Provence. they take extreme pride in doing their job perfectly – what a joy!

other perks from the stay:

An upgrade to a nicer room

watercolor notecard of Four Seasons Provence with a message from the General Manager

A birthday cake to welcome me, a handwritten note from the General Manager, plus 2 bottles of the region’s wines, gratis

A smiley staff willing to drive me to and fro at a moment’s notice

one of my happy drivers

A portfolio pre-made for me with details of dinners & wine tastings (including marked & highlighted maps)

A warmed car with driving directions when i was dropped to the car for dinner

i kid you not - the BEST

An inclusive breakfast with the BEST bacon i have ever had (America – adopt this European tradition, si vous plait)

A bartender who kept the bar open for one last drink although no one else was there

meet Jimmy bartender extraordinaire

A reception staff that knew who i was – greeting me by name each and every encounter AND did everything to ensure i was happy (including giving me a delicious Four Seasons Terre Blanche candle at check out)

AND a head of concierge that planned my visit better than i could have hoped and got me my treasured pink beret

what a cute pink beret!

i don’t believe Four Seasons Provence would have denied me anything. it was as if they anticipated my every wish and thought. it’s worth every penny when you receive this kind of exceptional service, i must say. i may be ruined now because i was spoiled so much. it truly was the VERY BEST service i have ever experienced.

AND since then, i have received follow-up emails from Andrea Ramseyer – Travel Industry Sales Manager, Jean-Jacques Yonnet – Head Concierge (who made all my dreams come true) and Mauro Governato – General Manager of Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche, all expressing the wish that i enjoyed my stay, thanking me for my patronage plus inviting me back as soon as possible.

merci beaucoup, i will be back – you can count on that!

Villa Gallici: a hidden treasure in Aix en Provence

the charming Villa Gallici

the Villa Gallici in Aix en Provence has existed for two centuries before becoming a hotel devoted to the French art de vivre 20 years ago. the property has 22 gorgeous, individually decorated rooms as well as some fabulous common areas to enjoy. it is just as the Baglioni/Relais & Chateaux families desire – comme a la maison “just like at home”. it’s no wonder Villa Gallici has been named one of the best 500 hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure and has an impressive standing on the 2011 Conde Nast Traveller list. when you are at the Villa Gallici it’s as if time has stopped and all of life is enjoyed at a slower pace. there’s a simple ease in your time spent there that’s divine in this day and age of lightening-speed life. i wish i could bottle up that feeling and sip it every now and then!

so very true

similar to FS Provence, i began communicating with Villa Gallici about dinner reservations while staying there. they, too, were very responsive and recommended & booked a fantastic restaurant for my one evening in Aix en Provence. (also to be reviewed in my eating post)

beautiful blue room

i prompted Villa Gallici as well that it was my birthday and upon arrival, after an easy check in (with an upgraded room!), i was brought yummy little sweet treats and some veuve clicquot champagne along with a handwritten note from the Managing Director welcoming me. the French know how to do it right!! kinda makes me wish i had a birthday more often!

birthday champagne - sante

Villa Gallici made sure i had a well-marked map and directions to all of my evening’s destinations. after a fun night out, i came back to Villa Gallici to find rose petals scattered about in my turned down sheets. how lovely. i was well attended to but left to enjoy Villa Gallici at my leisure. my only regret is that i didn’t have more time at this special place but i had to get onto Monaco.

TRIP TIP

if i’ve said it once, i’ll say it again. DO NOT hesistate to let the hotel know you are there for a special occasion (that is, of course, if you are)! it’s a very competitive business and i find that hotels across the board want your loyalty so it’s important to make you feel special.  the concierge is there to help you – so take advantage of that too. i haven’t asked for anything in my travels that i haven’t gotten or received help with. so ASK and YE SHALL RECEIVE!

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the abc’s of travel: miss lola of lola travels

A. Age you went on your first international trip:

I really don’t think crossing the border from South Padre to Matamoros, Mexico for tequila shots & beer at 19 can count! So it has to be when I was 26 and went on a 2 month European Eurail adventure alone.

B. Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

The MANY lagers I threw back while being “ashed-in” in Budapest & Vienna in 2010 due to the Icelandic Volcano airspace shut down. Lola’s best-tasting vacation evahhh!!

prost!

C. Cuisine (favorite):

Mexican – remember I’m a Texas girl at heart! 2nd favorite is French – YUM, YUM, YUMMY!

D. Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Favorite: So hard to pick just one but if forced to do it at this point in life I’d pick St. Bart’s in the French West Indies, Caribbean. OMG everything about it is delicious – the people, the water, the beaches, the weather, the food…definitely Lola’s speed.

Least Favorite: Berlin. I know, I know, SO many people love it dearly. I guess Lola needs to go back to Berlin with you!

E. Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Many acts of kindness from strangers – it restores my faith in human kind!

F. Favorite mode of transportation:

Airplane – not that I’m flying in a cushy class, mind you. It just gets me to the far off destinations I wish to travel the fastest! Then BOOM, Lola’s out there discovering!

lola's puddle jumper to St. Barts

G. Greatest feeling while traveling:

Besides being incredibly lucky – FREEDOM! That’s an overwhelming feeling I get from traveling AND I love how we as humans are really not all that different. We are all connected in some way. Lola loves this!

H. Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

I grew up in TEXAS – so, hellooo, TEXAS!!

I. Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

Villa Galicci in Aix en Provence – it’s a Relais & Chateaux property. Their staff was beyond amazing! Other properties have come close but this one remains on the top!!

J. Journey that took the longest:

Up to now, traveling to Hawaii or Greece but soon I’ll be taking a MUCH longer one! Very excited about this longer journey – stay tuned!

K. Keepsake from your travels:

My favorite keepsake from my travels is my gold charm bracelet. I don’t get charms everywhere I go but I do have one for most and when I wear it – it takes me back to the wonderful places in the world I’ve gone. Lola wears this almost daily!

lola's travel charms

L. Let-down sight, why and where:

At this point, I guess I’d say the Berlin Wall. Beyond happy it’s gone but it was hard to really grasp the magnitude in my short visit to Berlin.

M. Moment where you fell in love with travel:

I’ve always enjoyed traveling but I think I really caught the bug my first visit to NYC. You know NYC has an allure about it. I got such a rush from walking the streets, hailing the cabs, doing it on my own that I decided to move there during that trip. Haven’t looked back since! Now I’m always trying to find ways to replicate that “rush” feeling and I get it every time I go somewhere new and undiscovered for Lola.

N. Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Probably the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat. It wasn’t Lola’s favorite but it was probably the nicest. Got up graded to the penthouse!  Talk about fancy pants!!!

O. Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Don’t judge me but when I look at my photos the thing I seem to take the most photos of are Lola’s legs. A close 2nd are cocktails. This must be because Lola’s likes to travel to places that are warm and involve beach & pool time. AND, what can I say, Lola likes a good cocktail!

Curacao legs

Miami legs

NYC cucumber martini

Vegas dark n stormy

P. Passport stamps, how many and from where?:

3 passports later – I have 28 stamps. So many are repeats: the US, Canada, Bahamas, St. Martin, St. Barts, Curacao, Bermuda, Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands. (technically the US, Switzerland and the Netherlands shouldn’t count as they were just points of entry) Places not listed that should be are Hungary, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece. Soon to be added: Monaco!

passports

Q. Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

The Wax Museum in Dublin. I H.A.T.E. Wax Museums in theory and this one proved my theory was correct!

R. Recommended sight, event or experience:

The Acropolis in Athens! I feel everyone should see this once in their life. It is overwhelming and pictures DO NOT do it justice!!

The Parthenon - Acropolis - Athens, Greece

S. Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

My gold charms for my charm bracelet – duh!

T. Touristy thing you’ve done:

I pretty much always end up doing some of the “touristy” things when I travel. I am sorry but I think that’s probably part of why you are visiting the place you’ve gone…am I right?!

U. Unforgettable travel memory:

When traveling in Europe for those 2 months alone I had many unforgettable moments.

In Italy: After taking an overnight train to Rome where there was a strike taking place upon arrival,  an Italian man in my car took pity on me, bought me a coffee, gave me correct money and sent me on my way with directions to Rome!

In Barcelona: At the pensione where I stayed that the owners didn’t speak a lick of English, when I left, they hugged me goodbye! (maybe this was out of pity too?)

In Vienna: A cabbie picked us up to go to our train but we had failed to realize daylight savings had occurred. nevertheless, he rushed us there probably breaking all kinds of laws and when we didn’t have enough money he said to go on anyhow and RUN!

V. Visas, how many and for where?:

No visas needed as of yet but i have a BIG trip this year where I’ll need 3!!

W. Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

At the Chateau de la Chevre d’Or in Eze – the French Riveria. If you’ve had the good fortune of also going there, I think your answer is exactly the same!

X. eXcellent view and from where?

So hard to answer, I have several…I guess top two would be from The Caesar Augustus Hotel in Capri and from the Acropolis looking out over Athens.

Capri

Athens

Y. Years spent traveling?:

What are you getting at? Is this a trick question so I confess my age? Cumulatively or, as in, since I started traveling, how many years has it been?  Without giving too much away let’s just say it’s been awhile!

Z. Zealous sports fans and where?:

Barcelona, Spain. Football. During the World Cup. Really, need I say more?!

This was a fun exercise, I must say! Thanks, The Lazy Travelers for tagging me to play! I can’t wait to read what my travel friends and idols write whom I’m tagging next.  You’ll want to read their ABC’s too!

Leah of Leah Travels

Rease of Travelated

Lindsay of The Traveller World Guide

Kirsten Alana of Aviators and a Camera

Angie Orth of Angie Away

OK ladies…take it away!  TAG!! You are IT!

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