In the last post I mentioned Manade Saint Antoine. I’ve included the photos from our spectacular day there. We had a great time riding through the marsh to search for the bulls. And then, we herded them to a field where our intrepid riders “cut” several bulls from the herd. It was great fun and they all performed like champs!  We enjoyed our lunch and the demonstration of ‘bullfighting’ in the style of the Camargue, and then made a visit to a long-time friend, Dany LaHaye. Dany is known throughout France and Portugal, as being a breeder and trainer of Lusitanos that are schooled with finesse and classicism. She was a student of Mestre Oliveira during the years that Dominique was in Portugal.

We spent an entire day in Avignon, much of it spent with Chef Francois Secretin and his able assistant, Severin, at La Mirande. We began the day by visiting the market to find fresh delicacies to create a feast for lunch. Calamari, duck, fall vegetables for a ratatouille and figs with cream and cinnamon and other secret ingredients all combined to make a spectacularly delicious lunch.  Half the group was busy with prep in the kitchen while the other half went with the Sommelier to taste the wines we chose for lunch and learn more about the wines in this famed region. (Chateau Neuf de Pape, etc!). Then the group switched and the prep for the duck was completed, along with the figs for dessert. Then we all sat back and watched the Chef create his magic.

After a lunch like this there are two options: move or sleep. As we could not sleep, we all went with a great guide to visit the Cathedral and Pope’s Palace. The history of Avignon is many centuries in the making and full of intrigue, murder, the plague, and medieval politics. Avignon was the seat of 7 Popes during the 14th century. This is the only time that the Popes have left the Vatican. During this time, and for several centuries, Avignon was its own state…therefore not French. The city returned to France, and to French rule, during the French Revolution in 1791.

Our base for exploration was the incomparable Chateau Roussan, a 16th Century ‘home’ built by Bertrand de Nostradamus, brother to the famed, mysterious, Nostradamus. It is a lovely, atmospheric place to stay in the countryside just south of Saint Remy de Provence.

In the next post: Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado (I promise!!!)…and the Four Schools Exhibition in Paris!

There are special rates available now at the Dry Creek Inn, Healdsburg…but make your reservations right away! The rates go back to normal after January 3. Click on the link above for the Symposium to reserve your spot here at Barbier Farm, and call the number at the Hotel, mentioning Barbier Farm Group Rate, for your lodging.  Looking forward to seeing you!

Amities ~ DBarbier