We came home last Saturday from a ten-day trip to the South of France. Or, as we like to call Gruissan, our little corner of paradise. After spending Christmas there, Easter was a first for us too. I have been to Gruissan with my Mum and the girls in the autumn as well and each season has its own particular charm. I thought I would put together for you the ten things we enjoyed the most during this holiday.
1. Take advantage of the numerous little cafés
Pains au chocolat and croissants for breakfast on market day. A rosé pamplemousse when it is apéritif time. A sinfully good crêpe mid-afternoon. Simply sitting there, relishing the sun on your face and watching the hustle and bustle of village life.
2. Admire the gorgeous reflections in the water
With the sea and many lagoons, there are a plethora of possibilities to come across a postcard perfect sight. I love the mirror image of the old, derelict Tour Barberousse in this picture and how the water sparkles.
3. Discover new wines
Yes, even the ones with rather unusual names! This rosé was recommended to me and it did not disappoint. You can find out more about it here (if you can understand French!). We brought some home and I will keep an empty bottle for decoration, as I love this label.
4. Explore, explore, explore
We have by now spent a fair amount of time in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and every time we discover something new. A promise of adventure emanates from half hidden paths and stairs, just irresistible…
5. Vibrant markets
The market in Gruissan takes place three times a week, located on the main square only in the winter and taking over several streets in the summer. Every time, we buy a few jars of fragrant honey and perfumed olive oils to take back home with us. One of my summer rituals is also to buy cheap sunglasses to wear on the beach! But my favourite stall is where the spices are on display. I have to refrain from buying a little bag of each, mesmerized by the colours and smells…
That one day, you will also be the owner of a flat, a house or just a shack similar to this one, with THAT view…
7. The maritime history of the region
This picture was taken in Notre Dame des Auzils, a chapel built almost at the top of a mountain where sailors and fishermen come to pray for protection. I have already written about the legend attached to Notre Dame des Auzils and its location. The walk up to the church is not too demanding and the place well worth a visit.
8. Culinary delights
If you like fish, you will be in heaven. During our stay, my Mum cooked some very fresh scallops and obviously the taste did not compare to frozen ones. Oysters, mussels, sea bream… There is so much to choose from, including “couteaux flambés au whiskey”. According to Sexy Hubby, the meat dishes are equally mouth-watering. The cheese selection is of course unbelievable; personally, I am very keen on the numerous goat versions. We came home with some “vieux Comté” and a “saucisson sec aux girolles” from the market.
9. Art exhibitions
This time, we sadly did not make it to Carcassonne and to our friend Zanda’s studio. We went back to the Saltern of Saint-Martin’s Island, but the art gallery, Les Arts Salés, was still closed. We missed the opening by a few days only. Local artists can also be found in the Vieux-Gruissan.
10. Dog walks
If you have a dog like us, the walks on the beach or by the lagoon are an absolute delight. We love looking at Cute Doggy, ears in the wind, bouncing around, obviously very happy. As always he has been a bit subdued since we came back, I swear he misses his frolicking in the sand or observing life from HIS sun chair on the balcony. Well, we miss that too…
On Thursday, my friend and I were walking around South Kensington when she exclaimed: “Oh, we HAVE to pop in there! Cake?” I was a bit taken aback until I realised that we had come across a Hummingbird Bakery… I must admit, it was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the palate. Look at that rainbow cake! The choice was a difficult one; my friend eventually bought a carrot cupcake and I settled for a lemon one. Delicious.
Our next stop was the V&A for some Italian glamour… What a gorgeous display of dresses, outfits and shoes, ranging from 1945 to 2014. Pucci, Valentino, Miu Miu, Giambattista Valli, Dolce & Gabbana, all the famous Italian designers are represented. I loved the Roberto Cavalli leopard print sexy, floaty dress – how could I not? – but my absolute favourite was the Nicola Trussardi leather dress… The main sponsor of the exhibition being Bulgari, Elizabeth Taylor’s jaw-dropping emerald and diamond necklace also shines behind its glass case in all its glory; the actress received it as a present from Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra in Rome. If you are interested in fashion, I totally recommend it. The Glamour of Italian Fashion runs until July 27th.
An impromptu visit to the Natural History Museum saw us coming face to face – if I can put it that way – with a pair of friendly skeletons! And then of course more walking along the Thames. I offered my congratulations to the couple about to do a wedding photo session, her long veil gently fluttering in the breeze. The shiny VW bus almost made me want to go on a camping adventure. And the light. That golden light was just so beautiful.
During my recent London trip to attend BritMums Live, I was fortunate enough to have time to enjoy what I love most in big cities: To walk around for miles, soaking up the vibes and the atmosphere. Sexy Hubby would probably tell you that I am ready to do anything to avoid public transport. Not entirely untrue, but it is more than that. How can you really experience a city by sitting in the tube or in buses, just dashing from one place to the next?
The first evening, my friend and I had dinner in a restaurant in Covent Garden, sitting outside but grateful for the heaters that had been turned on. The second evening we went to the OXO Tower for cocktails and nibbles. On both nights we wandered around quite a bit before and after, admiring the views across the Thames, bumping into a slowly performing ballerina… or a cheese shop with the most mouth-watering display! There was even a trip down memory lane for me, realising that The Lion King was still being played at the Lyceum Theatre. The show was a birthday present for First Daughter many, many years ago…