Second train

Second train, Marseille to Nice
I made my transfer despite my first train a bit late in arriving. I find the monitor and locate my next gate. A. Then I find the car for first class, not well marked at all. No assigned seats I grab one fast as they are filling up around me.
My arms ache from pulling bags and I vow, again, to take less next time. Luggage stored where I can see it.
Facing the wrong way, single seat I nestle in. Listening to French dialogue of other guests.  
I read a bit, watching and listening and enjoying the blue sky and sea view from my window seat.  
Arrive at Toulon. I realize I dropped off to sleep, lightly, in the sunshine for just a moment, iPad on my lap. People depart, more arrive. Back on schedule to next stop. I will be in Toulon in a few days on the cruise ship. The names all sound so familiar to me already from studying the maps and reading books of France over recent weeks.
The scenery takes my breath away, I gasp slightly at the green surroundings with stone outcroppings of what used to be castles, chateaux and villas. Small towns and terra cotta roof tops, church steeples and tall grasses surround me. Cloudless sky overhead. Timeless and ancient, fertile and cultivated, vineyards and farmlands. Mamma Mia … Next town coming up! Train has slowed to new rhythm and I am awake for whatever I can witness.  
Graceful waterways, gentle rivers … High flying flocks of birds frolicking in the breeze and air passages. We pass by and along roadways and I can see life going on as usual in the rural areas. Parking lots of small europecars near stations.  
Sounds a bit like Avignon,,, but it is les arcs draguignon? Hmmmm, no familiar.
Beautiful, rougher mountainous or hilly rocky surroundings, still plenty of tree varieties and still some vineyards. Picturesque. Stucco and stone sided homes and farm buildings. Centres of towns marked by spires and clock towers. Old archways of stone, barely attached to any permanent structures but standing strong. Sunshine gleaming at 417 pm. Apartment type buildings close to train stations in larger centres. Saint Raphael is this stop. Familiar music fills the air indicating a train is arriving. Safely now …. Some off, some on.
And away we go. Palm trees and trees with wide flat tops and long slim trunks almost like mushroom shapes.  
The sea is so close I can almost hear the gentle waves and feel the sunshine sparkles on the surface. I hope to swim tomorrow …. Just to be one again with the salty sea. Home! Omg… How beautiful is this site … Côte d’Azur …. Sailboats, lighthouses, hotels … Peach stucco, white sails and surf, sea blue, golden sun foliage green, black and rust stone shore line. A kayak glides by, adding a splash of vibrant red. I fall in love again with this area of the world.
People swimming! I can see them now … As we enter the beautiful city of Cannes. I have been to this beach town a few times … It is sunny and beautiful as I remember. Oh, how exciting to be back!  
Mostly young people on the trains, I notice. Couples in love, early twenties and some solo travellers like me. So many very well dressed, high boots and shoes, slim slacks or skirts, beautiful coats, well coiffed hair and just-so makeup. I always feel a bit like I could make more effort when I travel here. Lol. I sent home my boots so donning runners but also bling on fingers and wrists and my heart around my neck. Next stop Antibbes. Then Nice! 451 pm


more of first leg

First leg of train … Beziers to Marseille. 
I don’t understand the language being spoken or the speed at which the announcement is happening.  
The sun is bright and shining on the fantastic French countryside. Fall colours sparkling and dancing in the tree branches and on vineyards aplenty. Small towns zip by as if in a hurry. I know it is the speed of the train. I have driven through sleepy towns and I know.  
My next seat neighbour has gone out for a cigarette as we arrive at the next stop, I think Monpellier. It all happens so fast, the train travel. Quick and efficient for those who understand the language and countryside.  
People preparing to disembark in Montpellier. Watch my bags, see the action. Breathe and stay in the moment. My neighbour leaves his ticket. New people arrive, woman behind wakes up and enquirers where we are. New people respond Montpellier. A young man moves in beside the seat of woman behind me. She needs to sit up now and give him space. They exchange a laugh. My neighbour returned and told new guy of thief. He likes the iPad and smiles. He speaks very little French but he tries. I ask for wifi… Proud ounces weefee here.  
Police, I am told, are now on train. High excitement in sleepy train in south of France this sunny day. I hear voices, excited, a bit louder … Here they are … Police went by. Three that I see. My neighbour gets up and talks to them. He is back.
More announcements. The train is in fast motion again. I check again for my iPhone. All is well. Rest, enjoy the view and rocking of train. Grateful that my seat faces front:). 
Big golf course, huge villas and still vineyards and farmland can be seen as we rock through France at noon hour this 30 October 2015.  
Now stopped at Nimes, 1244 pm. I take a photo of my bags. A bit suspicious of people I guess.  
Arles and over the river, past the fantastic and huge modern bridge. I see a river cruise ship gently saying by. We only slow down, no stop. 1306 pm. Scheduled to arrive 1342 and we are ten minutes late perhaps. Maybe even twenty? I don’t understand. I am a passenger in another country, another language and heading to another place very fast on this foreign train.  
Neighbour calls and texts his “coeur”? Perhaps partner or girlfriend … Not sure. And between he plays games of cards and on phone looks like a game of comparing and finding difference in two similar pictures. I think I would like that game. I wonder what it is? If you know let me know…. I might ask him? Off for another smoke at Arles.  
I would like to read more about this place, Arles. The scenes depicted on the walls of the train station out of doors are of Bulls, horses, flamingoes, and women dancing in a large circle. The Camargues? And ?. Next stop Marseille I believe.  
The sight of the huge metal windmills remind me that they look like they communicate with extra terrestrials. Huge four arms spinning slowly but steadily and two blinking lights where eyes would be, almost humanoid like. I once saw several trucks moving parts of a windmill. One arm larger than a huge semi truck, so much bigger up close and on the ground! Whoa!  
We slow down at Miramas, a busy rail yard and then off again, like we stole the train. Lol

First leg, Nice here I come 

Staying In tune, I leave the villa and embark on train to Nice
I know I am in tune today. Minutes, sometimes seconds before the confirmation arrives.
1. Woke up wondering about my youngest daughter and if all is well. Message on my iPhone from her when I arose. Nice, wordy, and detailed. Very good.
2. Thinking of my fave store in Victoria and if they might ever think of hiring me to work there. What that might be like. I will be home in a few weeks and would follow up then. When I finished reading message from daughter, checked email and found notice from store looking for a store employee at my fave store. Lol. I applied immediately.
3. On train now to Marseille and then on to Nice. Not as nice first class cabin. Not top floor. Is same and I walk through carefully juggling my suitcases and bags … Full of wine, glasses and of course my clothes and other belongings. I remembered today to put my money and iPhone, iPad close to me, in convenient purse so it will go wherever I go. I know of possible theft on trains. I think of it. When I find my seat, I sit down at window and the guy next to me has to move as I settle. I can’t see my bags from here. A young man walks by and I see him eye my suitcase, and then he walks on. Is he checking out for later? Announcement comes over and the fellow next to me, is French and seems to understand what was said.  

Voleur? He repeats … Seeing I don’t understand. I shrug. He pulls out iPhone and translate app. He shows me …”thief”. I say I need to get my bag. He says, they are after telephones. I move my bag anyway next to me… I can see it all from here :). He is alert. Woman sleeping across the way and behind us. He watches.  
Two men come by soliciting something. I nod no, not interested. As does the man next to me. We watch these two men lean over the woman behind us. Man beside me gets up and follows them. Trusting me I guess, he leaves his phone and iPad and sunglasses on his table and is gone in a flash. He nods at me that he has it under control. Gone.
Other gentleman in first class cabin also seem alert and up showing they are awake and aware.  
I feel completely safe but feel intrigued by the intrigue. Ha ha. We are in a fast train with four stops. Been on less than half hour.  
I will remain alert and awake on trains today! Oi vay.   
je t’aime , je suis désolé , s’il vous plaît pardonnez-moi , je vous remercie

Vous remercie…. 

The scene outside is brilliant, bright sunshine and countryside

Lighthouse in France

I am a Lighthouse
I have often written about this concept …. as if I am a lighthouse. I talk about shining my light and not being concerned about who is affected or enjoys the reflections I cast upon them. I have read books and phrases and enjoyed references made of lighthouses and lessons in life by many authors in my life.
I am still in France on my month long villa stay and reading my way through 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go and this is an excerpt from Chapter 79.
“Life is relentless. Just ask a lighthouse. If we were born with a fraction of their resilience, we would never be undone by a really bad day. These immortal stone beings are like the best of humans, only better. They stand unwaveringly straight and tall, can withstand any degree of indignity that blows their way, and face each day with steadfastness and grace, no matter what happened the night before. What’s more, a lighthouse offers indiscriminate comfort. Especially when the seas get rough, they are beacons in the dark or through a scrim of vapor. Frankly, we can learn a lot from them: about dependability and consistency, how to hang tough, and what a waste it is to do anything less than greet each day with a sense of optimism and purpose.”
I would add that our personal beacon, our individual little light shining – offers some ray of hope to some one, some where in our lives … and we may never know who they are. My job is not to know or decide or predict or even hope that my light reaches a certain audience …. My job is to get up every day with the goal to shine my best today.
If you in some way have felt the warm rays of light that radiate from my source, then I am in joy and my life’s work is complete. I have known some fabulous people in my life, some now living, some moved on …. who have expressed to me how my light has made their happy moment possible. For this knowledge I am truly truly grateful, beyond any imagination or dream that it could have been so. I sit in the awe-fullness of knowing and feeling that life source grow even brighter from the fuel that gratitude brings.
thanks to all of you …. my friends, my family, my colleagues, clients and dear sweet children and youth that have let my light shine on them in my life time. Blessed am I to have known you.
love and light, from France this day and always, 

Heaven … I’m in Heaven

Lost in no thoughts!  
A perfect picture frame of honeysuckle branches and pink flowerlettes.
Even the birds are happy today…. singing wild song. The same, no doubt song, that is buzzing in my own head … “heaven …. I’m in heaven … and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak ….”

Heaven, I’m in heaven

And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak

And I seem to find the happiness I seek

When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Heaven, I’m in heaven

And the cares that hung around me through the week

Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak

When we’re out together dancing (swinging) cheek to cheek
Oh I love to climb a mountain

And reach the highest peak

But it doesn’t thrill (boot) me half as much

As dancing cheek to cheek
Oh I love to go out fishing

In a river or a creek

But I don’t enjoy it half as much

As dancing cheek to cheek
(Come on and) dance with me

I want my arms about you

That those charms about you

Will carry me through
(Right up) to heaven, I’m in heaven

And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak

And I seem to find the happiness I seek

When we’re out together dancing, out together dancing (swinging)
Out together dancing cheek to cheek

The Bees are Busy in Sud de France!

The bees are busy this morning … flitting from radiant red floral petals of the few roses around the pool, to the fragrant pale pink honeysuckle vine on the arbour around the door way … to the left over grapes that cling to the vine against the stone wall of the villa attracting sweet seekers. Olive trees bearing older fruit now turning black from bright green olives on the same tree, even sharing the same branch.
I am taking the precious time this sun shiny morning to sit at the mosaic table with Apple keyboard and ipad to write to you. Most days have been filled with activity and travel plans for the next and the next and the next moment here in the South of France.  
The invitation to come here came from a new friend I met a few years ago. She and another gal who live in Toronto, were also joining a cruise on same day, to same ship out of Monte Carlo for an Italian Riviera experience on Azamara. We had some challenges hailing a cab on a Sunday morning from the train station to the ship pier. Together, 4 of us became friends on the route we took to the embarkation port of call.
Thereafter we have been friends, first spending each day together for 10 days on the cruise and since, Facebook friends chatting when we saw each other on line. And then one of the gals rented a villa in south of France for six months and invited me to come and share some time here.
Just the sweet sound of a month at a villa in south of France makes me swoon. Is there a more spectacular place on the earth? more illustrated and talked about?  
The weather has been spectacular for this fall season. Cool evenings move along the foliage and fruit to hasten the colour changes for coming winter chill. The sunshine bright during the day beckon the bees and birds (and people) to dance and sing in the festivity of harvest and change of season festivities. Still warm enough for shirt sleeves and walking for miles out of doors, I am moved almost speechless every day by the vistas outside my own front door.
I would do this again, I find myself saying outloud and to myself several days in a row this last week. Yes, I have become part of this place and it has woven its soul into my heart.
It is peaceful and gentle here. Small pale yellow butterflies flit by on their way to some destination or just playing, like me, in the sunshine with joy. Ants and small crawly bugs are busy storing and collecting and wandering with endless energy, it seems. I can hear the click click of my keyboard in the stillness. Not even a small wind through the tree branches this day can be heard to break the still soundless moments framing the natural dialogue of nature. (thanks Jackie, for the words that escape me).
Church bells from a distant town and car tires on a blacktop asphalt add sounds to the natural rhythm from time to time. And now the gals are up and having some breakfast so I can hear those sounds … beckoning me to join the fun of travel with a group of fabulous friends.
More later, have a wonderful day wherever you are.
Pamela in France!! 🙂


A day in Narbonne
Little historic town, city really and not so small. We drove here this morning and parked in the historical part of town, underground. We came up to the street with cobblestones, a canal or river running through the center, cafes and shops lined both sides with rows of the fabulous plane trees! So beautiful.
Despite the windy morning and gloominess of the sky, we had lovely weather and it was very pleasant walking around. up to 21 degrees.  
We strolled around the town, arriving around 130 pm. There is a piece of roman road, original, that once was part of the much larger road used back in the day. It was spectacular to be able to walk on the onld stones and to imagine a time so very long ago. I took lots of pictures of this sight and the surrounding river, tree lined walkway along the river bank. We found a place to stop for lunch after an hour or so of touring around taking pictures of buildings and the scenic river running through it.  
One of the gals notice gluten free crepe type foods … so inside we went. The inside very nicely decorated with large full life size replicas of old tapestries, old lamp and lighting fixtures … all giving an ancient atmosphere. It was busy yet quiet and very tastefully done. She put tables together to accommodate five of us in front of the window for ease of watching the passers by. We ordered drinks and then our meal and I think everyone had one of the best french meals of our trips … four of the gals in our group have been on cruises leading up to this time together and tried many places for lunches off the ships. I have been here for three weeks and this was a spectacular lunch time meal for me. I am so grateful for the find. The flavours stay with me now as I close my eyes and recal the rich food and warmth of having made to order meal that my food allergies and preferences allow. Very highly recommended for lunch!! The restaurant closed while we were there and we did not feel rushed. We had pictures taken with our waitress and with our whole group. Creperie d’Oc
Then a wee bit of shopping as we continued to walk around the town.
I found an adult colouring book, art therapy, anti stress kind of mandala and repetitive colouring …. for my youngest daughter. They had only one and Star Wars theme. Fantastic find, but heavy! I think she will love it. Hard cover and quite thick. It will be heavy to cart around from here, but I bought it anyway, knowing she will love it. Purchased at a book store called “Librairie”.
Also we found a hat store and all tried on beaucoups de chapeaux!!! Berets, and rimmed hats, beautiful store with fabulous exotic scarves and lovely accessories. ” Chapellerie Emona, Boutique de Luxe et accessoires”
It was a lovely day, we are back at the villa now and one of the other gals has prepared a fantastic dinner meal for all of us – mine separate and without meat. I am looking forward to however it tastes. I love how special I feel that people take the time and effort to accommodate my needs and wishes.  
thanks for reading, have a wonderful day doing whatever, wherever you are!
Pamela in France

The villa sights and sounds

Egg yolk yellow walls, lilac metal shutters folded back but still in the picture. Fabric furniture covers of lilac, greens and same yellow in sunroom. The furniture mostly patio couches with soft cushions face the scenic wall to all window facing out to the valley.
This is one of the scenes from the villa in south of France. The flooring is stone and cool to walk on, rustic Browns, tans and beige natural stone color through the common areas. Throw carpets of colourful accents and straight back white wooden chairs with pastel seat cushions are placed throughout. Little white wicker tables and French magazines such as Vent Sud, Bbb-midi… A French English magazine for Languedoc region, and many of them! Enticing me to take time to read through and savour the photos and invitations to return one day.  
Outside the sun has started to rise, I can see a great distance now in the almost white sky over the greens, golds and dark brown foliage of a distance and sandy stony roads … Maybe it is raining somewhere off in the far away. Shiny horizon. A few cars go by the sleepy country road that stretches between Nefies and Roujan in south of France.
A bit of wind draws my attention to the tall beautiful grasses and greenery around the house. Pinky purple pale flowers are growing around the door and window near the eating area where we sit to do most activities in this villa. Drink wine, play cards and eat wonderful local foods as a group.  
I can hear the air blowing through the olive trees also in the yard. I see black llamas with white accent patches in a neighbouring field within my view.  
The house is quiet and the gals are still sleeping off the nights activities of late card playing and wine and water consumption. It was fun. You can really enjoy the company of new friends around a card table!  
I will go get dressed now and perhaps make toast, gluten free, with perhaps some lavender honey or sweet preserves of figues noire or cerise …. The options are endless in this country of gastronomique delights!  
Au revoir for now, mes amies and familles!
Pamela of France


Women and Wine in South of France

Wine for Five Women
Our first day together, the five women of France. My mom, husband and Jim have left a big hole in my holiday when they went home …. However two women have arrived in the villa so we are five fabulous women about the same age-ish and open to adventures in France. I told them of our wine tasting so we plan the day: wine tasting about eleven ish, then to Pezenas for a wee walk around town and some shopping local boutique stores and old streets … Then groceries as a group. Home for snacks as supper, or pasta?  
Off we go:
Back to Domaine Moulin de Lene …. Frankie greeted us, big smile and so welcoming.  
Family estate, six employees, Frayssinet is local family name. 55 hectares. Fouzilhon is a town close by.  
Huge underground aqueduct 35 km from Romans. They have found parts of it under their vineyards. Huge stones, grew grains . .. The mill on Lene River means exactly. Late 19 century family planted the vines. Not great quality but high quantity … lol.
Owner bought abandoned, house falling apart, chicken house is now office …. 1997 expanded and updated buildings. Some parts 4-5 areas not growing. Not organic. But have controls, part… Have to use organic products. Have to wait and test for disease and use organic products to treat. Really important for us. Maybe have sheep next year to eat grass.  
Produce 300,000 bottles annually. 12 wines. 1-8 am harvest, cooler, less oxidation, better aromas. More and more people do it that way. Independent and sort grapes by hand. Vibrating table, get rid of stems etc. Has olive trees and some harvesting … But not full business yet. 17 litres last year oil. Previous year 300 litres.. Up and down. Sell only to locals.  
Hire people to trim vines. We own our own tractors and harvesters.  
Main market is domestic. We export to Canada, Quebec. Justine, Romanus and Reserve. Also England, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Germany.  
A dozen wines lined up for our tasting.  
Start with white wine. Crunchy, fresh, crispy. With Caesar salad and goat cheese. Claire de Lene. Vermentino. Citrus.
Floral Zanzibar… Easy drinking. Goes with everything.  
Whites continued: Justine. And mademoiselle same … Chardonnay 70% and Petit Manseng 25% and Muscat 5%. One in stainless steel tank, other is oak barrel. Justine 2014, Mademoiselle is oak. Scallop, fresh, fresh creme. Plum, Brie and creme cheese. Buttery taste. Justine, toasted bread, blue cheese with honey, scallops with saffron creme.  
Rose Claire de Lene … Cab sav and marselan, fruity buttery, round.  One of my personal favourites.  The rose wines in this region are very good drinking wines.  Especially afternoon bevy. …. 
Ready for Red. First two stainless steel tank. Fish, meat any cheese. Alphonse. Syrah, marselan, and Mourvèd. Fruitie. 2014 vanilla note, stone fruit. Light tannins, easy drinking. Gooseberry.  
Romanus .. Cabernet sav, merlot, Syrah, petit Verdot. With tapas, earthy. Camembert, love this taste. Big chewy wine.  
Reve de Marie. Pure Cabernet franc. Omg, six months aged in oak barrels. 2013. Bit chilled with fish, creamy cheese and meat. Licorice note on back of throat. Nose and legs great. One of the gals says “what about what’s in between?”. Excellent. Snorting, laughing … What fun! Photo op! Folles for ladies, means “crazy”. Named for brother and sister of Romanus.  
Attend de deguster les trois en prochains. Wait for the next THREEE!  
Reserve de la famille. Fifty percent merlot and Syrah. Fifty fifty. “Pure happiness.” Smooth. Like a syrup. This is a definite favorite. I remember this for my family. “Hot flash”. Un coup de chaud! Lol
“I like” and she clicks her tongue. Wine-o-pause …. Lol
I love the structure of this wine. Sweaters are coming off … Lol and scarves cast aside. One of the gals wrote to her husband and spell check says it is nude today, instead of is really nice here today.  
Cesar. Top range wine. Cousin of Marie and Romanus. Brother of Justine. Blend Syrah, merlot, Grenache, cab sav, marselan and petit Verdot. Nickname is THE BOMB. A lot of work. We take grapes more ripe, sort by hand. Opens lid of barrel, grapes in side, Crush grapes by feet … Aged a year. And skin for certain length of time. Bottle with cork. No labels. We turn them, flavours are melting. 2011. Pure happiness. Christmas Day. Plumb, black currant and black cherry. Coffee, apricot, strawberry, espresso hint. Licorice notes. Like Ribena but much better. This is the best wine. I remember tasting it with Steve and family over the previous week.  
We have had white, rose, red. Now orange wine. Late harvest yellow, orange wine. Not sweet though. Round buttery wine. Same as Romans did it. Master of cellar … Apicius. From Vermintino grapes … Crush fruit and leave fruit with juice five months. Project. White wine. But after red. Same taste red but fresh like white. Cleanse and refresh pallet and glass with white wine. Freshness of Flowers. Shellfish. Blue cheese. It is some thing else. Different. Not dessert wine. Not sweet. Stainless steel tank. Different flavour. Oysters, Tuna tartar, blue cheese.  
A recipe for every wine …. 
This time I am scribe and partaking in the wine choices and fully enjoying the full tasting experience. Lovely! We have many laughs and one of the women, Jackie, is very knowledgable about wines, has a great nose for details and sits beside me so I have running commentary and helpful insights as we go.
Later .. As promised, a walk in Pezenas with a little wine glow. Lol. And then we settle on lunch in that town. Not a lot of people to watch today, we sit inside. Most have pizza in Yucca, I think the name, Italian place. Nothing gluten free really … We enjoy wine together, local red.
Then grocery shop. Home and a little prosecco with limoncello …. Thanks Mom and Steve for your contributions! Love you both! Then red wines next …. Phew!  
And we played cards, contract rummy until the wee hours and fairly even game … So we have to finish tomorrow morning. Plans for new day … Narbonne the town ….
Au revoir and good night, morning …. Or whatever it is wherever you are …..
Pamela in France