Prescription for Le Trip : Shop, Sip, Schlep, Ship….repeat daily as needed.
by Debra Chappell
It’s a grey, rainy day in Paris – the perfect time to sit with a cafe au lait and tell you about my sunny, wonderful week in the south of France on Le Trip- and a fabulous schlepping trek through Provence . What a terrific time I’ve had with a great and rowdy group of new friends and our fearless leader St. Jill (aka Jill Mitchell – Le Trip-the one in the hat in photo above). If you ever want to take a Vintage Market Tour through Provence (or Paris, or a wine tour, or historical tour ) Jill is the person you want to become friends with. She’s knowledgable, speaks fluent French, is fun, vivacious, enthusiastic about all things French and knows all the best little vintage shops and large markets far and wide. ((Very cute too-she reminds me of young Meg Ryan before that awful plastic surgeon got hold of her!)
Bearing in mind that the above group was not an easy one to corral in one direction (like herding cats) Jill’s attempts were only marginally successful. Half of us were ADD, some were distracted by awesome prices, some by handsome french garçons, some were taking pictures, a few were wanderers, others were sitters, and some, like myself, just wanted to experience any and everything we possibly could… all at one time! I suspect Jill went back to her apartment at the end of each day and poured a large Provençal Rose before tearing the rest of her hair out!
Not to worry – she greeted us each day for a new adventure and didn’t lose a single one of us the whole week. (Wait, where did Rosayne get to? And Val? Did we lose Val??)
Here is a pictorial guide of Le Trip, with some of my (ahem) astute observations and advice for further reference:
1. It is tres tres important to begin each day fully caffeinated. Always start with the breakfast of champions- this has become my most favoritist thing in the whole wide world in the a.m. Cures jet lag, puts a smile on my face and even has me thinking I can speak french! There is something about coffee in wide brimmed white cups and a saucer that makes it taste well…just special. And the croissants? Oohh la la! (You’ll be paying extra baggage fees on your return trip anyway – take some on your hips as well and worry about it later!) Based in Aix en Provence, I found plenty of sidewalk cafes to frequent before a hard day of bargain hunting,
2. Get yourself a big market basket. You will need one (or three or four – if I’d had room I would have bought several). They are great for your daily treasure hunting as well as an extra carry-on on the trip home. And oh yes, for their original purpose -the fresh produce!!! – I have oodles and oodles of photos of asparagus, artichokes , tomatoes, fresh spices as well as flowers and exquisite hand crafted pottery (Sorry-I got carried away with the photos below!) The burst of vibrant colors and variety of textures and aromas makes you want to live better…eat healthier, linger over a leisurely meal, say to hell with the regimented work schedule…go buy a fresh baguette, a good bottle of wine, some just picked vegetables and go home and cook something fabulous, oui?
3. Get yourself a good tour guide who knows her stuff: See paragraph one. Le Trip – with Jill Mitchell was terrific. (No, she did not pay me to say that.) Find her at: letrip.org
4. Leave your work schedule, twitter feed, fashion wardrobe, any pre-existing cigarette phobia and Rick Steve’s travel guides at home – you won’t need them. All you will need is your passport, phone with GPS, a sturdy pair of walking shoes, a pair of jeans and a couple blouses. Buy a scarf (or three,) throw it haphazardly over a fabulous blouse you found at the market and voila! You are ready to go!
And save your Euros for the good stuff = great finds, treasures, and stuff you didn’t even think you needed/wanted til you spied it among the brick-a-brack like a diamond in the rough. Crockery, art work, silver, dishes, hardware, architectural accents, chandeliers, linens, cutlery, copper pots, wooden shoe shapers, mirrors, real antiques (not the 50’s corningware variety we have at home), and a whole host of other stuff I can’t think of off the top of my head but soon couldn’t live without:
But enough of me talking, let me show you in pictures:
“Oh thank you caped crusader! I would have paid twice that had you not intervened!”
Penny looked like the perfect decor accessory in this patisserie shop, “does the pretty girl come with my macaron, Madame?” (Love the hats on these two, tres chic, non?)
The model of Yankee sophistication…. “Oui Monsieur!! This is normal for Americans…”
Sometimes the artists are as beautiful as their art!
I know the espresso is devine, but even Jill’s bargain hunting sacred spirits showed up for Le Trip!!! Man, that girl has some pull!”
Jill was persistently concerned about our nutritional needs too, lest anyone should faint from low blood sugar. We were forced to adhere to a strict daily regimen. For your diligence Jill, merci beaucoup!!
“Stephany, for the last time, when I say 3:00 I mean 3:00! And that means BOB, butt on the bus!! And where the heck is Rosayne?”
“Do I look like I care?? Whaddya mean I have to get on the bus too?? I haven’t finished my rose!! No, I haven’t seen Rosayne”
“Yes, we’ll be right with you Jill, just after we taste a few more wines. What? No, Rosayne is not with us…”
“By the way Jill, can you do something about our hotel? We were thinking here would be good!”
Charlie had his angels and Jill had, well…us! And we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! We became fast friends, shopping cohorts, and made relationships that will last a lifetime….
I will leave you with some stunning pictures of our last day on Cassis. No shopping, just a brilliant experience in a beautiful coastal town to wrap up a remarkable once in a lifetime experience
That’s it for now from rainy Paree! After the Vintage tour I spent a few extra days in Provence with my old friend Vincent, then some wine tasting in Burgundy, before making my way back here for the weekend and flight home tomorrow. Will recount the final adventures on flight home….if you’re not sick to death of travel stories by then!
Au Revoir for now mon amis!