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Presentation Topics:

Secret GardenWalks: Europe
Wine Country Gardens
21st Century Gardens
Great Gardens/Great Plants


Rosé Wine Tasting in Provence

The Adventure! Journeying in the South of France, exploring Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape to savor fine wines. To begin, not far from Avignon, the charming village of Tavel is known for a host of wineries that produce many of the world’s finest Rosés. Yes, I do appreciate the delicacy of a lovely glass of Rosé to accompany a gastronomic delight enjoyed on a cafe patio on a Summer’s day in France, basking in the brilliant blue skies.

Tavel is known for the production of Rosé wine exclusively.

Rounded and full bodied, with a complex aroma and fruity finish, a tasting highlight of my tour of Tavel’s wineries showed off the sophistication of the Tavel Appellation in the Rhône valley , the region’s terroir that contributes to the quality of the Rosé: The hand-harvested selection I happened upon at Domaine de la Mordorée was their cuvée Dame Rousse 2012. A highly recommended wine befitting a range of foods from pastas to grilled meats and Asian dishes.

Domaine de la Mordorée © Alice Joyce

The winery is known also for delectable vintages of reds and whites under the Lirac Appellation. I found the hospitality of the winery readily available while staying in a local Bed & Breakfast, Chambres des Vincents, walking distance from tasting rooms in the village, and a short stroll over to Domaine de la Mordorée to partake in tastings.

Lovely to visit during the harvest season, when there’s a buzz of activity along the winding roads in town.

I found the stonework in Tavel to be a revelation, exemplified in the community Potager, where dry stone walls embrace the planting beds, and give magnificent form to the everyday landscape one passes while walking in town.

Tavel Potager Workers' Gardens © Alice Joyce

These gardens are vibrant reminders of the availability of fresh vegetables in home cooking and featured in the local restaurants.

Mid-day meal at Le Physalis Restaurant ~ Tavel, France

Gambas © Alice Joyce

One of many feasts partaken at this wonderful spot, where Chef Stéphane Camus works his magic.

Provence Vista © Alice Joyce

Next stop ~  Châteauneuf-du-Pape

LeVerger sign © Alice Joyce

Le Verger des Papes


Foodie Havens

Paris to Provence!

I invite you to accompany me on a virtual tour as we stroll around Paris, then travel South to Provence. We begin with an obligatory visit to Ladurée .. the unparalleled pâtisserie. Floral touches on the windows, sweet!

Ladurée! Paris © Alice Joyce

Ladurée! Paris © Alice Joyce

The magnificent Musée d’Orsay provides a sterling view across the rooftops to Sacré-Cœur, high atop Montmartre. Due to the time of year I found the outdoor balcony closed, resorting to a photograph through the glass window. Ah well, life is so much about timing! Noteworthy:  The d’Orsay museum’s Café Campana, its fabulous Art Nouveau style ~ a comforting space to enjoy a delicious meal and carafe of wine, which we took advantage of after a long journey into the city.

Sacré-Cœur from the Musée d'Orsay

Sacré-Cœur from the Musée d’Orsay © Alice Joyce

Despite the overcast skies, the Tuileries gardens are a must-see, offering delightful displays and  charming ambiance year-round.

Tuileries roses © Alice Joyce

Jardin des Tuileries © Alice Joyce

I had the opportunity for the first time to stay in the 12th arrondissement area, where I needed only to walk out the front door of my B&B to find a stairway to the elevated gardens of La Promenade Plantée .. the lush green walkway planted on an old Parisien railway line. These innovative public gardens which opened in 1993 surely inspired  New York’s High Line.

Promenade Plantée Paris  © Alice Joyce

Promenade Plantée Paris © Alice Joyce

The fine morning took in a long amble. While identifying many familiar species of plants, jet lag set in, so I located a bench with a good excuse for people-watching.

On now via the high-speed TGV to Avignon, the heart of Provence.

Au Tout Petit © Alice Joyce

Au Tout Petit © Alice Joyce

Merci ~ my thank you to Chef Silvère Vivien for a blissfully satisfying meal at Au Tout Petit. The ‘eye-catching’ graphic design signaled the creative attention to the restaurant’s every aspect, from the inviting atmosphere to delectable cuisine. I’ll be returning to this Avignon foodie haven.

Touring included a few nights in Le Duché d’Uzès ... in the Gard region of Provence.

Uzes Wall Poster © Alice Joyce

Uzès Wall Poster © Alice Joyce

On Wednesday mornings within the walls of the Medieval castle, a perfectly temperate day presents an opportunity for a picnic. Uzès, like many Provençal cities, boasts brilliant markets. A sampling of artisanal cheeses comprised one element of our meal. Once again, the floral touch beautifies the bounty.

French Cheeses Marché Uzès © Alice Joyce

Provence is know for fragrant lavender products.

Uzès Lavender © Alice Joyce

Uzès Lavender © Alice Joyce

Upcoming on Alice’s Garden Travel Buzz .. Rosé Wine Tasting in Provence ~ pure pleasure!

California Wine Country

Raymond Vineyards ~ Wine Tasting Joie de Vivre

A satisfying afternoon combined garden touring and tasting fine wines at Raymond Vineyards ~ ruby red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. I awoke with a smile on my face the next morning, still savoring the aftereffects of a heady joie de vivre that characterizes a visit to this St. Helena winery.

Theater of Nature © Alice Joyce

The spirited ambiance emerging throughout the Raymond property is colored by the elegance and humor of CEO Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates, the driving force behind the Vineyard’s insightful use of solar power, its commitment to organic farming methods, and a lavish aesthetic sensibility. Receiving kudos for Cabernet Sauvignons distinguished by a silky depth, Raymond Vineyards recently garnered the Wine Enthusiast ‘2012 American Winery of the Year’ award.

Unique tasting opportunities at this Napa Valley destination are designed to excite all the senses: Consider reserving an unparalleled offering ~ Raymond’s velvet draped, Baccarat embellished Red Room ~ click on the link to learn more.

Raymond Vineyards ‘Frenchie’ detail © Alice Joyce

Stroll through the  extensive biodynamic gardens and you’ll come upon a “shady dog suite’ … aka Domaine Frenchie!

A perfect place to park your pooch.

‘Frenchie Winery’ © Alice Joyce

For a self-guided tour of The Theater of Nature gardens, there’s a very cool app available to all!

Enter the following into your smart phone

… and click on ‘play’ for an explanation for each of 60 or so distinctive elements of the garden’s organic and biodynamic guiding principles. Among the topics you’ll learn about: Building soil, nurturing goats, chickens and sheep, and planting to attract beneficial insects.

Theater of Nature – Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

RAYMOND Flow Fountain © Alice Joyce

Flow fountains like the one pictured are an integral aspect of biodynamic gardens; designed to move water in a vortex motion that replicates the infinity symbol.

Raymond Exterior Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

Winery displays celebrate the multifaceted sensory pleasures of wine. Below: An array of aromas to increase awareness of the complexity you might experience in a fine glass of wine; floral and spicy, fruity, earthy and spicy.

Aroma Display Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

The Crystal Experience is one of the sparkling spaces at Raymond Vineyards. The glittery decor casts an enticing, theatrical spell; icing on the cake, so to speak, as you enjoy a tasting while learning about the art of decanting wine.

Raymond Crystal Cellar Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards