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Faces and Fashion in Fez

Posted on March 25th, 2015

It is easy to reach Morocco from here, by Ryanair direct from Marseille on a flight of only two hours to either Marrakesh or Fez. We chose Fez because we heard that Fez is where they make things, Marrakesh is only where they sell them. Fez was first founded in 789 and is considered to be the best-preserved old city in the Arab world. This may be because the streets are too narrow and hilly for motor vehicles – Fez is the world’s largest car-free zone – so redevelopment never took place. We enjoyed a week there, with good food and interesting sights. I’ll write separately on what we saw, but meanwhile here are some photos of high fashion and faces in Fez. You…

Marché Les Halles, Avignon

Posted on March 25th, 2015

On Place Pie, in the centre of Avignon, there is a magnificent food market called Les Halles. An open market has been held in surrounding streets from around 1750 to provide the city with meat, fish and offal. An iron hall was erected in 1864, replaced in 1899, then rebuilt in 1947 after the roof was bombed out during the war. The present-day halls were opened in 1974 and the front wall of the market is covered by a vertical living garden. There are more than forty permanent stallholders, all selling high-quality produce, ranging from traditional butchers, bakers, fishmongers and fruiterers through asian delicacies, spices, wines, speciality salts, cheeses and olive products. You can find more photos HERE  

War on the English!

Posted on March 12th, 2015

The Castle of Empéri in Salon-de-Provence houses a remarkable exhibition of militaria, based on a collection amassed by brothers Raoul and Jean Brunon from Marseille. After Raoul was killed in action in 1917, Jean returned from the Great War intent on expanding and dedicating the collection to his brother. Exhibits now include several thousand weapons, uniforms and militaria dating from 1730. The castle is one of the oldest in Provence, dating from the ninth century, and one of the largest. It was the stronghold and residence of the Archbishops of Arles and Holy Roman Emperors, and in 1481 came under the control of the Kings of France. Over the years the castle hosted many prominent visitors, including Emperors Conrad II and III, Pope Gregoire (1370 and…

Twenty Shades of Grey

Posted on March 12th, 2015

Winter is over and it’s time to restore our volets, or shutters. Most need repainting, but some of the larger ones have rotted and need replacement. Luberon volets come in many different colours, from pillar-box red, through blues, greens, greys, sand, dark brown and varnished timber, but lighter pastels seem more appropriate in Provence, certainly more attractive than the darker colours of northern France or the alps. It is hard to discern the original colour of our own volets, now a pale blue-grey much faded in the sun. What to choose? Colour swatches are studied, small samples painted, then checked in both sunlight and shade. Here, too much white? There, trop fonce – too dark? After several attempts a colour is agreed which will be applied to new shutters…