Inspiration & Resilience Through Tragedies & Adversity
It's been an unbelievable year, from politics to fires, hurricanes and floods, yet I found the heartfelt inspiration of firemen gathering
It's been an unbelievable year, from politics to fires, hurricanes and floods, yet I found the heartfelt inspiration of firemen gathering on overpasses to pay tribute to fallen firefighter Cory Iverson ( a procession from Ventura to his home in San Diego), so perfectly symbolic of the love, strength and gratitude that demonstrates the resilience we are all being gifted.
"Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you." L.R.Knost
Yes, it is gut-wrenchingly tragic that he died in the Thomas Fire at just 32 and left behind a pregnant wife and two year old child, so that makes me weep. We have endless friends who were evacuated, some lost homes. Horrible. We woke up startled at five A.M. the first morning of the fires in early December to heavy smoke odor, alarmed that our own house was on fire even though we were far away in Santa Monica near the sea breezes. A few months ago, my brother's family home was flooded waist-high in Houston and they had to be rescued and evacuated, then my family and friends in Miami had to be evacuated.
These tragedies affect all of us and we mourn the losses and senseless destruction. One day we are on the 101 shown in this photo and admiring the beauty of California, then the next we see this dreamlike photo of a fire-y commute, yet just a few days later we were on it and it looked perfectly normal again. Surreal times of big changes.
Mozart has been very busy with her acting work and in the recording studio with Grammy-winning producers, so life goes on and we haven't had that much time to absorb it all. Tragedies hit very randomly so even people involved in an area will have very different experiences, a lesson I learned in the 7.2 San Francisco earthquake when I happened to be in a place hit very, very hard where it looked and sounded like the end of the world, and many died, ( gave me PTSD for years) yet, some were lucky enough to be in an area like driving in a spot where they didn't even know it happened!! My brother has lived through several hurricanes and floods in Houston, yet his house never flooded until this one, but I also had friends in Houston who were not affected and some who had less flood damage like his daughter's house nearby,
I'd read about Cory Iverson, but didn't know about the firemen's custom of honoring the fallen this way. My sister's brother-in-law from Northern California is fighting this fire as is another old friend who has a daughter Mozart went to school with in Santa Cruz and we have stayed in touch with over the years. We see it all on Facebook and keep these people and all those fighting and affected by the fires or floods in our prayers. Another friend is a helicopter pilot who helps with fires around the world. This photo captures the exhaustion of the hero firefighters in the Thomas Fire ( posted by @cookiesinheaven on Twitter).
We'd gotten up early on Sunday to drive to Agoura for a photography session for Mozart to be ready for pilot season coming up in January. On the way there, we could still see and smell smoke in the far distance as the fires continue ( now 55% contained), but otherwise seemed like an ordinary day.
On our way home, we became part of the procession honoring Corey Iverson. ( Photo posted by @AlSeibPhoto on Twitter) It was accidental and extraordinary. Such a powerful and deeply touching experience that defines 2017.
Who could not be impressed by these brave men who risk their lives to save others? When I see tragedies, I always think of the famous Fred Roger's quote:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Be it fires, or floods or whatever tragedy and adversary we must face in life, I choose to see the good and there has indeed been so many heroes in 2017. So much to be grateful for always and no matter what. Let's honor them all.
My friends Terry Tillman ( that I have known for over 35 years) and his wife Keidi Keating with their toddler son, had to escape and evacuate their home in Ojai without much warning. As they drove away from the smoke, they had a brilliant insight to write a book, an inspiring guide for anyone who has experienced a natural disaster, whether personally, or through a fire, a flood, a hurricane, or an earthquake. One title idea for the book is 'The Light in the Flames: Blessings Received and Lessons Learned from the Thomas Fire.'
Despite the many hardships of this year, life goes on and we get stronger and more resilient, more woke, more grateful and inspired by the every day heroes all around us. God Bless all the firefighters and first responders. God Bless all the heart activists. God Bless the "Silence Breakers" who were the 2017 Time Magazine's Person of the Year and the #MeToo movement.
There is much to be proud of and inspired by in 2017, so I look forward to 2018 as LOVE is louder than all the rest. We just have to open our eyes to it and trust all is unfolding perfectly and leading us to where we need to go.
Be the change that you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi
Mozart Dee Sings Christmas Songs on Good Day LA & More!
If you want to get into that holiday season mood, watch Mozart Dee sing on Good Day LA
If you want to get into that holiday season mood, watch Mozart Dee sing on Good Day LA with her prestigious National Children's Choir! She performed last week with Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the LA Master Chorale and will again this weekend.
She loves being in this choir and even sang at Carnegie Hall with them in NYC. They are preforming "Winter's Dream" at Royce Hall at UCLA on January 13th.
One of the great things about having a singer/songwriter & musician in the family, is all the beautiful Christmas music we hear now, so let me share a little with you. Here Mozart sings "Santa Baby":
She loves to perform all year long, but even more so in this joyous season. Here is a Christmas Medley we did for Youtube from her many Holiday performances at Six Flags!
Mozart has come a long way from those early preschool years singing as she cuts down the family Christmas tree and making up songs at four as she decorates the tree, ....to now working in an amazing 10,000 square foot recording studio with Grammy-winning producer Mikal Blue at Revolver Recordings preparing her debut EP that will be released soon!
Who is ready for the Holidays and what are your plans? Wishing you and yours a most spectacular time full of love, family and friends and a very exciting New Year ahead!
Teen prodigy Mozart worked in the recording studio with multi- grammy winning producers Charlie Midnight (James Brown, Hilary Duff) and Jan Fairchild (Mos Def, Gwen Stefani) who created the inspiring featured song "United We Stand For Love" that she sang with Nation XO on the show.
The show was also a sold-out fundraiser to help LeapsnBoundz and spread the message of inclusion. Susanna Midnight and Nathalie Yves Gaulthier teamed together to create entertainment that inspires and changes the world.
It was a very heart-touching show with the cast of Born This Way ( which features seven young adults born with Down syndrome) and circus performing children from Las Vegas, LA, and Utah along with Mozart and the Nation XO girls.
One cast member of the show, Elena, who is half Japanese and half Australian, played traditional Japanese Taiko drums magnificently and each one touched the audiences hearts.
Mozart had a great time from the moment she arrived backstage in the beautiful green room.
Just watching the children who are amazing circus performers warm up, stretch and get their costumes on...
....as well as exotic make up done was super entertaining! Like having a birds eye view to a whole new world.
The packed, sold-out house loved the show and Mozart and the other girls in Nation XO were all part of the stupendous
finale with their song "United We Stand For Love" and joined by the cast of "Born This Way"
and the Le PeTIT CiRqUe artists who used sign language to the song that she and Nation XO were singing.
Truly an exhilarating "inclusive" night full of love and inspiration for all involved and we were grateful Mozart was part of this. When I get the exact air date I will add this to this post. So many exciting opportunities are coming Mozart's way, so stay tuned!
We have so many heroes to thank because they went way above and beyond all expectations and keep us glowing in happy memories and lifetime gratitude, long past our adventure together.
First and foremost is our friend and educator, Drew Buddie (or as we've known him as for over a decade on twitter, @digitalmaverick).He is a wonderful and creative human being! What is mind-boggling about this trip is just how many people that I have been connected with for a long time online, but never met in person, until this trip. Drew helped Mozart get some English books for a CTY class when she was 7 and wintering in Spain just because he saw her need from a tweet I sent out. I am always in awe of the beautiful souls we attract to us and their outstanding kindness and generosity.
He also invited her to speak at the NAACE conference and at a TED Talk, which were precursors for her 25 minute keynote speech in the UK this summer. He helped connect us to Martin Baily and invited us to stay at his enchanting home in London. The photo above is us getting dinner before Mozart performed in London as well as another dear friend from London (that I have known since 1988 when I stayed with her after a trip to Russia), fashion designer, Louise Lautman who joined us.
Educator Martin Baily ( @animate2educate) was stupendous in creating the Tech on the Tyne events at the prestigious Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art and a joy to work with. He was the one who created this large Ed Tech Conference and asked Mozart to be a Keynote Speaker and flew us over there, thus the catalyst for our whole trip!
He also had her sing at the Talk on the Tyne event and at the Lanchester Endowed Parochial Primary School, which was a spectacular experience as it was Mozart's first at a school and thus so enlightening at what a great fit that was as they loved each other and it was golden moment in time inspiring Mozart to do more of that in the future.
Our trip to Edinburgh was on our own, but when we took the Eurostar to Paris, we were blessed by being met by French/English translator extraordinaire, Nadine Touzet which was wonderful and made it much easier for Mozart to buy the Eurail tickets we needed onto southern France & Spain at the station. We last saw her when Mozart was 10, so much to catch up on. I first met her about 10 years ago on Twitter and Facebook through common interests.
Corinne Russo is a wonderous new friend ( but introduced to us by an old friend I've known for over a decade on Twitter Claude Benard who is a contributor on tnoos and runs hotelitour). She lives in the Luberon in Provence as has her family for generations and has done tourism here for twenty years, so no one could do it better.
We had the full Provence experience to the nth degree with so much heart and creativity and stayed at extraordinary places like La Gloriette B&B in Apt and the hotel Mas de Grés where Mozart performed. She even got the sound equipment for us and set it up as her brother is a musician!
When we left the Luberon, we headed south by high-speed TGV train to the romantic Saint Charles Station poised high on a hill with sweeping views of majestic Marseille including Notre Dame de la Garde in the distance. There we were met by my long time Twitter friend ( who I had never met in person) Claude Benard who helped us navigate down the ornate, grand staircase and get settled into our vacation apartment nearby as the owner did not speak English. He made our whole time in France flow beautifully.
Our next step was Barcelona which has been one of our "homes" and bases for many years. One of the things that makes it so special are dear friends who live nearby the luxury campsite where we stay. Mozart and their daughter met when they were about 7 or 8 and have remained friends and they love to travel as much we do, so we bonded as families, even though we communicate in Spanish and mine is horrible. Our kids translate when needed!
We keep in touch from time to time via Skype and FaceTime between our travels and we once even got a Barcelona police escort upon our return to the campsite after many months away. The girls have endless memories of playing together every summer at the kids club, pools and riding their bikes all around exploring.
We would often have lunch or dinner together and talk into the night as the girls played. Now they are almost grown, both great students, happy trilingual teens with bright futures ahead. We often did "long stays" here in spring and fall when we lived in Europe and this generous and loving family helped to make it home for us!
Luckily, the dad in the family was on vacation when we arrived and he went way out of his way to make our stay spectacular. He even keeps an eye on our camper van stored nearby and he took us there. It was a thrill for Mozart to see it again after so many years, like a dinosaur frozen in time these last five years, all our things just as we left them, reminding us of that happy time.
They invited us for dinner again as we did in the past, as both families love food and their homemade Valencica paella is a legend for us that we adore. Years ago, we taught them how to make home made sushi that we had to invent on the road and they turned us onto Spanish treats.
Sadly, I some how didn't get a photo of the beautiful mom to this clan this time as we were so busy just enjoying ourselves, but you can see her joy and sweetness in this photo from our blog when our kids were younger at our favorite campsite nearby their home.
One of the best resources for us before we started our world travel to help us pick our village in Spain was the amazing website Andalucia.com. We got to know Chris Chaplow and Michelle from twitter conversations and we are super impressed with this amazing couple and grateful we got to meet them on this trip in person.
They are brilliant, super talented, super kind, hardworking "doers" from Britain who have traveled the world and made Andalucia their home for the last twenty years. Interestingly, Michelle grew up in the Newcastle area in the UK where we started our trip, so even advised us on that.
Chris also reconnected us to Marianne from the blog East of Malaga ( criminal lawyer turned travel blogger) and I know her from many lovely conversations we'd have online at StumbleUpon in my early years of blogging. They've all been big fans of Mozart's and it was Marianne's idea to connect us with La Casa as she had done a UK travel show with them about hotels. Small world! So lovely to finally meet her and her husband and enjoy Mozart's performance together over a great meal in Andalucia!
I met Jessica from Sweden around 25 years ago when I was looking online for a Swedish penpal for my sweet eighty year old neighbor who was born in Sweden. She and I just hit it off despite me being a generation older and we developed a relationship through long emails when the internet was young. Now she is a psychologist and entrepreneur doing great work.
We happened to have children around the same time so we have been blessed to spend time with them at their enchanting Swedish home and on the road vacationing together in Barcelona . She connected us with a fantastic new Gäst B&B in Costa Brava run by a family they have known for years. There were five teens there and they had a very special time together while we parents relaxed.
Thus the anatomy of a "wing it" trip and how heroes come to the rescue and bring their skills, love, ideas and energy to create perfection. We couldn't have asked for a more magical trip for fun and Mozart's first European solo concert tour. It does take a village to raise a child and I am endlessly grateful for the wondrous souls that we attract around the world as "our village" thanks to social media and time in person!
It's been voted the prettiest village in Andalucia by the Spanish Tourism Authority and is about an hour's drive east of Malaga and also about an hour from Granada. This is the first time we'd ever been there in the summer, but we know it's falls, winters and springs well.
It's a sugar cube style, hill top, white village surrounded by green hills, huge mountains, blue skies and views to the nearby sea.
One drives up a windy road to arrive at this ancient village, originally built by the Moors where Jews, Arabs and Christians lived together peacefully for 800 years. I still find it breath-taking when one rounds certain bends on the way there and capture peeks of "our village".
One thing wonderful about visiting and living in this white village is most of it is all walkable, cobblestone streets and stairs where no cars can go.....
...and the views are always spectacular.
This view was from a shop and little restaurant where we rested for a while and ate the delicious local food. So many happy memories of these kind of simple pleasures.
One of the idiosyncratic delights of this village is when a rare car or truck makes it's way down one of the narrow, cobblestone streets. Daily life is a walking life here, usually car free, but in a few places like this, one has to sometimes deal with a vehicle through these narrow, ancient passage ways. The local way of handling this is to pause in some strangers door ( usually left open in Spain) until the vehicle passes. I had missed this every day odd ritual.
Even just a truck going through the village is a unique moment, not to mention just taking in the beauty all around as one strolls around the village surrounded by mountains.
There are two large parks for the kids, so of course, Mozart wanted to visit the park where she spent many hours playing with friends during those years not so long ago.
As well as just walking around the village with all the locals which is a lifestyle we miss. All of life takes place in these ancient roads, from daily grocery shopping and errands, to every festival filled with people and even every funeral where the locals walk from one end of the village to the other, starting in the church square.
Life goes at a very different pace in a little village in Spain than it does in our hectic life of late based in Santa Monica, California with all the traffic and fast moving music and acting business she is in now.
Beautiful Andalusian horses and some with wagons are still daily parts of village life in Spain as you can see looking down on the one paved road that circles around the town. It is still a farming village for many, so seeing sheep, oxen and horses from nearby farms is nothing out of the ordinary.
There are record amounts of wonderful restaurants with all kinds of food and since their is sun 300 days out of the year, sitting outside in the sun or under an umbrella is de rigueur.
When we left, I had to look again at this beautiful view of mountains, sky and "our village" that has always pleased me so and now has made a permanent impression on my heart. This will always be a home we love and we carry it with us.
Mozart had fun meeting up with friends she went to school with like this young boy and her best girl friend as they wandered down roads where they ran free together for so many years, went to the local school and participated in the many festivals together. There are not that many opportunities for young people in a small village, so many may move on to other places soon, thus sixteen turned out to be an ideal age to visit, connect and learn what is eternal and the same about village life and how time has also changed things.
Why? We visited Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival when Mozart was 8, so wanted to see it in summer outside the Fringe season when it is calmer. The highlight for Mozart at eight was learning how to spin some yarn from a colorful Scottish street performer.
Some things remain the same in Edinburgh
whether one is visiting Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival or not, like this beautiful red door at the picturesque St. Columba's Free Church of Scotland.
Edinburgh is always a gorgeous city and some issues matter less if you are just traveling from Great Britain, but if you are just making one visit to Scotland, ( as is true for many in the US) you may or may not want to come during the Fringe Festival.
There are always tourist crowds in Edinburgh during the summer, as the picture above shows in June on the Royal Mile, but things get much, much more crowded and much, much more expensive during August and the Fringe Festival.
So if you only have one time to visit Edinburgh, you will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and decide what is best for you.
You will only see the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the castle during the Fringe Festival, but you can visit the castle and meet the guards at any time.
If one goes early and the you luck out to not have rain, one can enjoy the excitement and crowds of the Fringe.
Yet, it is also nice to enjoy places like the National Galleries of Scotland with less visitors.
You won't miss the kilts or bagpipes no matter what time you visit Edinburgh, Fringe or not.
There are lots of fun things to do like holding an owl and other endless entertainment on the streets of Edinburgh no matter what time you go, although that increases during the Fringe along with the crowds.
Edinburgh has a charm that will always make you smile, but especially when the sun is out and we happened to have less rain in June ( although rain was forecast) than we did when there in August. Note, we mostly needed jackets and sweaters both times.
The green open spaces and parks will delight every age as you can tell with Mozart visiting the same park at 16
and also on her first visit at eight!
The only person who can really decide whether to visit Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival or not, is you.
One just has to look at the pros and cons and experience that you are most looking for, especially if it is a one time visit from a far distance, but the good news is that Edinburgh is always a great destination! Have you been?
Best Mother - Daughter Trip! Life Changing Adventures!!
There is nothing like a life changing Mother and Daughter trip to celebrate your bond and bring you closer together
There is nothing like a life changing Mother and Daughter trip to celebrate your bond and bring you closer together! Maybe that is even more true when one is traveling with a teenager who is sweet 16. We've always been close, but now we are closer.
First of all, it was absolutely amazing to watch how talented and professional she was and how attentive the large audiences were towards her
and just to see her commanding large audiences with ease on two instruments in gorgeous locations like the Fuerte Hotel in Estepona
as well as how adorable, charismatic and loving Mozart was with huge audiences of kids at two large private schools in London and Newcastle. She was so natural singing for them, doing spontaneous Q&A, signing autographs and doing presentations about her travel life.They treated her like she was Justin Bieber. Suddenly, I saw her future so clearly and how her gifts belong to the world.
I had Mozart handle the whole trip completely. We flew there and back, but then took a lot of trains and she booked and handled all of that and the hotels, taxi's, Uber, booking tours and all of our needs including food. She was totally responsible as if I was not there. I wanted her to learn by doing. She always helped as a child, but this is the first time she had full responsibility and she handled it all like a pro and loved it.
It was a lot of fun for me to see things through her eyes like this view from Roussillon in Provence which she had not seen since she was six years old. Those fading memories are vibrant again. For a girl who grew up in Europe, it had been much too long. Five years from the last time we visited...almost 1/3 of a lifetime for her.
It was a fast paced, intense trip much of the time, so I had to get those mom and daughter shots in as I could as our main focus was getting film and photos of her. Fusspot that I am, I don't like most of the photos of me that we took. Mozart always looks camera ready, me, ......not so much.
It didn't help that I fell on the very first night, tripping over my suitcase because we could not find a way to turn on the lights in our hotel and I wanted to hurry up and catch the gorgeous sunset, so broke a rib and badly injured my good knee, thus was in pain the whole trip and extra handicapped.
We did a lot of train travel which gave us time to talk, bond, watch the ever changing scenery and even meet sweet people sometimes. But getting on and off was a big challenge as we were packed heavier than usual because of her performances. Still just a rolly carryon and a backpack each, plus a guitar for her, but her rolly was especially heavy, weighing 50lbs. She only weighs 88lbs and I couldn't lift with my broken rib! She was also often carrying food & water we would pick up at the store for the train.
But she was a trooper and we managed, sometimes with the help of strangers or friends, but mostly on our own, just working together. It became abundantly clear just how well we work together as a team and how much we can count on the other. Usually, we have our third wheel, Davinci to handle the heavy or hard things if needed, but this time we just had each other. Girl Power!
You can't be in Europe without enjoying the outside cafes, so we enjoyed many good conversations and meals that way. Again, Mozart did all the ordering, asking for check, paying, counting change etc in several languages, so she would have full confidence when she does it on her own in the near future. Here you see us in Paris with our favorite Parisian friend, French/English translator extraordinaire, Nadine Touzet who was a great help and joy for us as we last saw her when Mozart was 10!
We picked one of our homes, Barcelona to be our rest place and spent a leisurely week there both before and another one after heading to Andalucia and Girona. We have dear friends who live nearby and have spent so much time over the many years in this huge luxury campsite, so Mozart has many happy childhood memories here. It's a special place with two large salt water outdoor pools, water slides, great indoor pool and spa, kids club, food and entertainment for all ages, so a great place to unwind after some fast travel.
Our camper van is stored nearby, so it was great to see it again and the memories came flooding back to our home on wheels that Mozart grew up in seven months out of a year from five to eleven. Her first comment was, "Oh my gosh, it is so small!". So typical of childhood memories as I think I said the exact same thing when I went back to see my first home as a child. Mozart was ecstatic to see her books, toys, clothes again and we brought some things home like the photos we had there. Next time, we have to bring DaVinci so he can drive us around and we can use it again as we miss that fun.
Heading back to our ancient white village in Andalusia where we had spent 5 winters and where Mozart had gone to school from first grade to fourth, was a must on our list and filled with memories. For me driving down this road seemed like no time had past, as if we had just done it yesterday. For Mozart and her friends who live here that she went to school with, it seemed another lifetime because they were fourth or fifth graders the last time they were together and life looks so much different as a teen. Nevertheless it was good to be back, see "our village" and the beautiful people, old friends and town. It gave us much to ponder.
It was sweet to just walk around the village, with all the memories that brought up, see the changes, but also see how little had changed. We took lots of photos and video like this one of Mozart across from our first house in the center of town where she took the photo as the "Spanish Dancer" in full flamenco outfit at five or six. We'd never been here in summer as it is much too hot for our taste, but wasn't as bad as most people say, as these villages are built for heat with lots of shade and narrow streets that promote breezes. The lead photo of the two of us at the top of this post, is us taking a selfie together in "our village" as wondered about.
Old and new friends were such an important part of this mother and daughter journey and I will be writing more about that as there are too many people to mention here. Yet, I must mention a dear friend from Sweden who I met over twenty years ago online and who we stayed with in Sweden for several weeks and met again in Barcelona another summer.
Our kids have spent lots of time together over the years and always had fun, but this was an ideal time in an ideal location on the Costa Brava area where their other long time friends own a gorgeous new B&B and there was a perfect gaggle of well-traveled, creative teens and parents to hang out with in an idyllic location. It really was the best of Sweden and Spain combo!
We've been blessed to have a life full of extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime, mind-blowing trips and we must add this one to the list for sure. Mozart and I came back changed for the better. We thought we were just fine before we left, but there is something about transformative travel and the mother and daughter trip experience that brings blessings and shifts. We've rarely been apart as a threesome, so even DaVinci was transformed by our trip. I wonder if you can do extensive travel and not be changed for the better?
Best Provence Farmers' Market -Coustellet in the Luberon
One of the great joys of visiting Provence is the food and visiting spectacular farmers markets. We
One of the great joys of visiting Provence is the exquisite food and visiting colorful, lively farmers markets which are so much a part of the culture. We were lucky to visit some of the best in southern France and especially fortuitous to visit the Coustellet Farmers' Market with Thierry, the owner/chef of the spectacular Le Mas Des Gres ( a quintessential Provencal farmhouse and small charming hotel) where we stayed in the heart of Provence.
Marche de Coustellet ( as they call it in French) is the oldest market in Provence and a producers market with mostly organic food and artisan local products.
Thierry and his teen aged son Yanis come here every Sunday and know everyone as they've owned the hotel for almost twenty years. Thierry teaches cooking classes to adults and children at the hotel and it was exciting to watch as they were picking out the makings for the scrumptious cuisine that we would be eating later.
I love to just look at all the beauty in these markets and take photos to share with you, like this homemade bread
or this exciting display
or these carrots.
People watching is part of the fun, like this farm producer from Spain who now lives here and was full of smiles.
yummy cherries ( that I became addicted to on this trip)
and endless vegetables, oh my! Thierry would give me the inside scoop of what he liked and didn't and why.
We were up early for this market ( and I let Mozart sleep in) as we went to another famous antique market at nearby L’Isle sur la Sorgue before lunch. I will write a separate post about that thrilling market.
Provence is famous for it's black truffles which are called black diamonds in the culinary world as they are the best in the world as 80% of France's truffles come from this region. Yes, Thierry bought some and we partook later as I love truffles. Note the artisan product of truffles in olive oil and below you will see honey with lavender.
Even onions look divine displayed in this market and I always delight in the French signs, don't you? That adds a charm you won't see in our wonderful local farmers markets.
I learned a new word in French when I saw this honey with wonderful artisan touches like adding lavender.
Just like at home, there was a familiarity as we watched the famers and artisans set up from their trucks, but there was definitely a Provence and French style to it all in their products, displays and way of doing business.
I liked this pretty display for a local Côtes du Rhône wine in one corner backed by a house on the outskirts of the market
as well as the colorful umbrellas, green trees and blue sky in another corner. Let me know if you love Provence market photos as I have so many remarkable photos to share so might do some more posts or photo essays.
So loved this appetizing Provence market experience, but it was time to head back to Hotel Le Mas Des Gres as Mozart and I were off with Nina soon to visit the antique market before lunch.
Mozart had performed at this magnificent terrace at dinner the night before ( we'll be posting that story soon) and was happy to perform again for the crowd at their famous Sunday Brunch/Lunch. After her Keynote Speech in the UK at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, (seen here), she did a 10 city concert tour in Europe and Provence was the charming midpoint on her #MozartIgniteTour.
The food of course, was stupendous, a mouth-watering Mediterranean masterpiece of Provencal choices
and all of it was made from the delectable local vegetables, fruits and supplies
we had gotten that morning from the market,
most of it organic, so fresh from farms nearby and stunning to look at and glorious to taste.
This is truly Provence and the Luberon at it's best. That's the other owner, Nina ( Thierry's wife) sitting across from Mozart at this delightful lunch. They speak French, German and English well and take exceptional care of all their guests. On the other side of Mozart is the amazing Corinne Russo who was our magnificent guide recommended by our long time online friend in Marseille, Provence Claude Benard.
Mozart's original songs and light-up-the-world smile just added to our perfect day in Provence. What is your favorite market in Provence or else where?
You don't want to miss these gorgeous, magical, fragrant, purple Lavender fields when you travel to Provence. You already
You don't want to miss these gorgeous, magical, fragrant, purple Lavender fields when you travel to Provence...a must on your bucket list. You already know we love this spectacular area of Southern France as we have been coming to Provence for many years, but this was the first year back to the Luberon area since 2006 as there is so much to see in this beautiful region.
At 16, Mozart was a great age to enjoy this summer travel in a deeper way, adding layers of experience from her times before in Provence at different ages, yet seeing it all anew from her more mature teen perspective. This was a perfect location for a mother-daughter trip and a big plus that Mozart also got to perform concerts in this quintessential, charming French area.
These famed lavender fields tantalize your senses and for only one month out of the year this spectacular blue- violet and green show spreads through the hillsides and valleys of Provence with the calming, healing aroma of lavender, the brilliant sunshine, buzzing bees and soothing sound of the cicadas.
After Newcastle, Edinburgh, London and Paris, our trip to Provence was perfectly timed to catch this harvest. The peak time for full bloom is mid July, but it varies each year and depends on location. Due to weather, it was early this year in the fields around Gordes, Apt and Roussillon, so a sweet bonus for us.
It's hard to explain how exciting it is to be out in the lavender fields in the Luberon. This is such an inspirational region because of the beauty, architecture, art, wine, cuisine,lifestyle and summer is the best season to experience all of that in full bloom and color.
I always love to add learning to a trip, so I was so happy that our wonderful guide Corinne took us to the Les Agnels Distillerie de Lavande near Apt. One can enjoy a guided tour year round and it's a great place to learn about the history of lavender, how it is made and lots of products available as well.
We were happy to miss the crowds because we were there before high season, so we had the fields to ourselves pretty much.
It was also very quiet when we were learning all about lavender, so we didn't feel rushed...
....but could take our time and enjoy every moment
Of course, my teen enjoyed the shopping and browsing as much as she enjoyed the
time outdoors in the fields.
Since our guide has lived in this area her whole life, it was very enlightening to hear the stories of the artisan lavender growers
and how that impacts life today and the whole history of it.
I love the combo of olive trees and lavender that one sees in this area a lot. Mozart grew up with olive trees and lavender ( and pinot noir vineyard) as they lined our long driveway on the home we sold in California to take our world tour, so this kind of ambiance resonates with us and perhaps why we love Provence, Tuscany, Spain and Med aesthetics. I love the light, the sun, the food, the colors and the earthiness of it all.
There is something calming and nurturing about this kind of environment that speaks to me.
Even the gifts make me smile to be able to take a little of it home with us.
I am grateful Mozart and I have another unique experience here to add to our memory banks.
There is just something very special about experiencing a beautiful place together and the people we met are part of us now as well, knowing some day we will see them and this place again and it will be like no time has passed.
Provence, like lavender is always different, but yet also always the same in a timeless manner, year after year.
So we will be back to the Luberon and to all of Provence and to France and to Europe again soon and in the meantime we have our pictures to remind us of this special time, the aroma of lavender and Mozart has some extraordinary art photos from museums in Europe on her wall where she writes music on her piano and some show Provence and lavender. Unforgettable.
Please share your Provence stories or future plans in the comments! I love hearing them.