Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fantastic sea view apartment for sale in the heart of Marseille

I was delighted that so many of you were taken by Anne and Dominik's farmhouse renovation project that I posted about earlier this week. But, such dreams come at a price and after a considerable debate, they have decided to sell their rather amazing apartment in the Panier district that is the heart (and I do mean the beating heart) of the fascinating city of Marseille.

I can see from whence their ideas where born, for despite it's incredibly central location, there is definitely an air of a country mazet in it's façade. Wouldn't you agree? 

Remi and I are both big fans of atypical spaces. The more levels and surprising twists and turns, the better. This apartment fits the bill perfectly.

The entry opens on to a terracota lined and wooden beam topped dining/living area that has transversal exposure to the gorgeous sunlight pouring through...

...which in turn leads down to a compact but well-planned kitchen (any of you that have lived in France, let alone in a French city know that this is standard). I will have to ask Anne if those counter tops are granite, stone or polished cement...

There are several bedrooms of varying sizes but my favorite is the master, not only for the modern slat blinds that play so beautifully with the light of Marseille...

...but also in that it leads out onto it's own private deck. Can you imagine starting your day sipping your tea in the sun? I can!

However, my favorite space is most certainly the terrace that opens off of an additional living area with incredible views over the towers of the Major Cathedral and the sea (something that is extremely sought after in Marseille). For me, this large apartment is all about the essence of what experiencing the best of life in lively Marseille can be. It certainly is an up and coming city - listed as #2 on the New York Times 2013 list of "Places to Go" and home to the European Capital of Culture in the same year. How I hope that this unique space finds a good home!

Here is the original ad in Particulier à Particulier pour mes lecteurs francophones:
Le Panier - Marseille 2e
Dans une impasse tranquille de la plus belle place du Panier : la vie de village au coeur de la ville, à 2 pas du Vieux-Port, du Centre, du MUCEM. Maison-appartement atypique, sur 2 immeubles (2 entrées indépendantes possibles). Surface 115m2 pour 6 pièces + 2 SdD et WC + 2 terrasses dont une sur belle chambre et une de 12m2 sur salon avec vue sublime sur la mer et la Major. Idéal pour familles et couples (mais trop de marches pour personnes âgées ou enfants en bas âge). Toiture neuve, des pièces rénovées, d’autres restent à faire. Place tolérée pour 1 voiture.
Agences immobilières s'abstenir. 
380.000 €

And here is a rough translation for my English readers:

The Panier District - Marseille 2nd Arrondissment
In a quiet cul-de-sac just off of the prettiest square in the Panier: enjoy village life in the heart of the city while being only steps away from the Vieux-Port, the City Center and the MuCem (more about that at Lost in Arles soon!). With a surface of 115m2 (1238 square feet) there are 6 rooms with 2 baths and a WC, as well as 2 terrasses, including one off of a lovely bedroom and another of 12 m2 leading off of a living area with sublime views over the sea and the Major Cathedral. Ideal for families and couples (but with too many stairs for the elderly or families with very young children). The roof is new and some rooms have been renovated while others are still ready for you to make your mark on them. Parking is possible for one car only. Real estate agencies, please do not respond to this ad.
Price: 380,000 Euros (or $518,000)

If you are interested, please email Dominik directly at:

I am so happy to try and help this wonderful couple get the word out about their apartment (and if you know of anyone who might be interested, then by all means please pass it along!)...And speaking of passing along a good thing? So many of you expressed interest in my dear friend Vickie Lester's new and self-published novel, "It's in His Kiss" - well, just in time for the first day of summer (hooray!), she is offering a free Kindle download on Amazon tomorrow, you can get all of the info that you need about it here.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The ease of conviviality - Top of the Park, Ann Arbor

It was one of those perfect early summer evenings. The sky was sending out les bisous d'or and there was just a faint enough breeze to play with the ends of my skirt. 

My Mom had been telling me about the Top of the Park Festival, which takes place each summer on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, for years. She had her first date with Leonard - now her fiancé - there and had passed many a happy evening with my Sister as well, dancing under the stars.

Last Saturday evening, it was finally my turn. My Mom and I stocked up on a Mexican feast from one of the food stands set up by local restaurants and went to find Leonard, who was waiting... an area under the trees called the Grove, where the fairy lights blinked and plastic tumblers of red wine awaited us. Just as we arrived, plates balanced precariously in hand, a family got up from where they were sitting at the front and center of the action and said, "We are leaving, do you want our spot?" It was one of those gifts that fall into place on such an evening. We smiled and offered copious thanks as they melted into the crowds.

As I settled in, I couldn't help but be delighted with the calmness of the scene. People of all ages, races and styles chatted quietly with one another. Kids did cartwheels across the lawn. There was no pushing to be first in line or to procure seating closer to the stage, no frantic texting or gasping theatrically into cell phones. Perhaps I have been living in Europe for too long but it did surprise me, even though I grew up largely in the Midwest where we are known for our polite behavior. Such ease of conviviality, natural and without decorum, only added to the sweetness of the evening.

I think that it was Adam Gopnik who, in his excellent book "Paris to the Moon" nailed down the contrast that in New York you are anonymous and in Paris you are given the head to toe glance by each and every person that you pass. I had experienced the shock of that transition when I moved from Manhattan to France and am now used to that attention in Arles. At the Top of the Park, no one was particularly looking or not looking. We were all just there, together. And while the three of us were unanimous in our dislike for the main band - a let down after the swing of the Joe Summers Gypsy Jazz Trio that had opened for them - we didn't mind leaving early, for we had already passed a wonderful moment on a perfect night, the simple peace of which I will not soon forget.

From a smaller venue at Top of the Park in 2011:

Many thanks to Leonard Wells, my Mom's wonderful fiancé, who loaned me his snazzy Samsung Galaxy to take these photos. Alas, I forgot that I can't download images from my trusty Canon on my laptop, so I will either continue sharing the posts from Provence that I had prepared in advance or smartphone snaps while I am in the States...

And I would also like to express my gratitude to the extremely generous David Terry, who has sent me two care packages of fascinating books to entertain me during the rest of my time in States and beyond...Merci, David!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Picnic and a project

New beginnings. They are so full of promise, aren't they?

Recently, Remi and I were invited to a pre-preview of one such project and a fine time was had by all. Remi had met Anne and Dominik during his coverage of the Roman Boat story for National Geographic Magazine. As video artists, they lead a busy and fulfilling life, one that has long been centered in the Panier District at the heart of Marseille. But, as the noise and pressure of city life no longer fits the bill for their creative needs, they decided a massive change was in order.

They bought a rambling old farmhouse in the countryside outside of Aix-en-Provence. While nearly everything needs to be redone (save for the beautiful cement-tiled flooring), the potential is absolutely incredible.

Having heard previously of this new adventure, I was so thrilled to be able to see the house in a virtually untouched state.

The patina of its many previous lives - it was originally a relais stop for mail, changing horses and resting during a journey - is fully intact.

Remi and Dominik carried down a table from one of the upstairs rooms along with a few random chairs and set them up under the shade of an ancient tree reigning over the walled-in courtyard. I spread out an old sheet for a table cloth and laid out the picnic.

The conversation flowed steadily for several hours over many subjects. Occasionally, I would step into the cool shade that the interiors thick stone walls (up to one yard deep!) provided. There were so many details to take in, elements that somehow have not been handed down to our daily mode de vie despite their usefulness. I could imagine sliding open the middle section of the screen in the front door to accept the mail or perhaps to hand over a freshly made pie to a neighbor.

And throughout my wandering from room to room, that old tree listened and rustled in approval. How I wanted to take photos of the walls stripped bare of layers of someone else's wall-coverings...

...but this is not my project, it is theirs. With time, the well-thought out plans that Anne has drawn up (she is also an architect) will come to fruition. The house will be a home and the barns will become work spaces. Isn't it inspiring?

At some point during our lazy meal, this fascinating couple admitted that it was their first on the property. Remi and I were deeply flattered to have been invited for this beginning. We left waving wildly as the car pulled away, shouting out thank you's and well-wishes for the adventure that lies ahead...

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wandering through the forest, away from home

Who are you when you are away from home?

Do you feel like you carry yourself intact - your own little bubble bouncing within the big blue marble - wherever you are? Or do you feel the edges start to blur and shift as they tend to when you are picking your way through an unknown forest, senses alive and prickling?

I have been away from Provence - and from Remi and the dogs - since May 28th. My Mom took time off to be with me for a week and we all helped my Sister move into a beautiful new home. During those busy days, filled with action and movement, I strode forth as Heather Who Lives in France, carried by the song of my life there. But now my Mom and Sister have gone back to their normal schedules and I am spending quite a bit of time alone.

Already, I have found the ground to be a bit slippery underfoot. The tune of "Who I Am" is slowing down and in the quiet of this undefined environment, certain notes are hanging off the bottom of the scale. I don't particularly mind. 

When Remi and I were travelling for our work, I came to relish that stripping down process. The rich simplicity of directly and continually encountering something new. There is usually little room for the noise in our personalities during such experiences. 

Here too I see how malleable I am. To pick me up and put me down somewhere else, amidst other loves and interests feels like an opportunity, not only to express other aspects of who I can be - such as being literally and culturally understood - but within the remove of my daily definitions to remember the core of my heart.

Step by step, I crunch across the leaves, I lift my legs over the fallen branches and rise up on tip-toe to try and take in the view.

Even within such seeming stillness, much is happening...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Through the mist and onwards

My thoughts are scrolling backwards in time, seventy years to the day.

Through the fog of the early Normandy dawn...

...our Allied soldiers waited on rolling seas, ill and cramped...

...yet solid and ready.

As the light broke, they stormed...

...through the water that pulled at their boots...

...only to hit terra firma as bullets rained from above.

On they charged to part the mist of history that Hitler had draped over Europe, over the world...

...that darkness, seemingly irrefutable, was seared by their bright light of hope and strength.

Here are to those that fought that day and to those that were left behind. You created a new path. 
Long may we remember, long may we follow.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Softness of the Provençal Spring

My head is lolling towards the open window where my hand lies out-stretched, conducting the breeze.

There is a sense of sweetness - not scent nor taste - that coddles my skin.

And in the blooms we stop to gaze at, I see a promise.

Of growth, of continuation...where age falls off into l'oubli...

...Most certainly for the olive trees that had died of a frost bone deep in the ground so many years ago and yet they wave wildly as I pass, gleefully reborn.

I reach for my camera and idly snap, catching at nothing in particular but the essence of all.

Remi is driving next to me and I here him quietly chide me for being so casual in my photography. "It's not respectful," he tells me for the tenth time. A smile rises on my lips and I snap again, kissing the air.

Doesn't he know that I am in love with the softness of the Provençal spring?