All posts by Susana Iwase Hanson

Susana grew up in Asia and California and received a Bachelor's degree from U.C. Berkeley and a Masters degree in International Marketing from Bradford University in the UK. She moved to Provence in 2002 and learned French. She also speaks Japanese. Susana is active in the village of Cotignac where she is mother to two girls, two cats, and wife to a ski-freak Frenchman. She runs a property management business (Provence Living Consulting) and in her spare time likes to entertain and make sushi whilst drinking lots of locally made rosé wine. Susana also serves Cotignac as an elected official in charge of Communications under Mayor Jean Pierre Véran.

Market day in Cotignac June 13th, 2017

It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day in Cotignac and the tourists seemed to come out of the woodwork. The market was bustling and there were so many buying temptations from the roasted chickens to big bunches of lavender. I finally succummed to some pretty cotton clothing at the bottom of the Cours Gambetta but oh, if I had all the money in the world I’d buy up half this market, it was so good!

Cotignac markets take place every Tuesday throughout the entire year but do come early during the warm season to secure a parking place (there is always a big lot just next to and up from the wine cooperative) and avoid the crowds. Continue reading Market day in Cotignac June 13th, 2017

La Table de Pol – wine bar and restaurant in Lorgues

Quality of ingredients, good service, and a relaxed atmosphere is what you can expect here at the wonderful La Table de Pol in Lorgues.  It’s a little escape, like something we’d find nearer to the coast here or on a beach.  Lots of stretching room, super comfy tables and chairs, benches with cushions for your aperitifs, and a cozy wine bar indoors for a more romantic feel; perfect for couples.

On the menu – there is a choice of moderately priced 3 course menus, but not too much, which is what we like. Dishes include herring salad with crunchy topping, mozzarella and tomato salad (nicely presented), mini octopus in a light dressing, salmon (Asian style) marinated in soy and cooked to perfection, a creamy chicken with lime, and other meat dishes. Desserts were tarte tatin, mango and chocolate mousse, and a salted butter caramel gooey cake which was to-die-for!! As a bonus, they had salt crystals on every table that looked more like large pink crystal rocks but with the little grating dish. You can have “fresh salt”…that’s if you need it, of course, but what a novelty!

They have a good wine selection – for an uplifting rosé try the Chateau des Sarrins with your salad or aperos. Great, attentive service, simple but very tasty food and an uncrowded seating arrangement made for a perfect lunch experience. I give it high recommendation!

Market day in Lorgues is Tuesdays in case you come out this way during the week and wish to shop before hand. Lorgues is a proper town with close to 10K population so there’s a lot going on here: lots of shops, restaurants, and services. It’s about a 20 mins’ drive from Cotignac.

La Table de Pol: 18 Boulevard Georges Clemenceau, 83510 Lorgues Tel: 04 94 47 08 41

Villecroze Park, La Bohème Café, and Mr Gum’s

It’s always such a delight to visit Mr Gum at his boutique full of fabulous ceramic necklaces, earrings and bracelets in old Villecroze. Guillaume (owner and creator of the shop) is full of charm too and is always a real pleasure to chat with. What’s best is that his shop is right next to the now famous La Bohème Café with equally charming Liz as owner and hostess. Have a coffee, a piece of cake, a look around at Mr Gum’s then head for the beautiful rose park across the way with its stunning limescale cliffs and cave dwellings (kinda like a miniature Cotignac!!), a beautiful old house, picnic tables, tennis courts, and a great park for younger kids too. All this is just 25 mins’ drive from Cotignac. Worth the detour!!

Comfortable accommodation in Sillans-la-Cascade

The village house in Sillans-la-Cascade is just 2 mins walk to the fabulous bakery and restaurant “Les Pins.”  There is a 30 mins’ walk down to the impressive double waterfalls of Sillans from here. Aups, Cotignac and Salernes are just a few minutes’ drive away. The lac de St Croix just 25 minutes’ drive.

The house is well equipped with dishwasher, washing machine, kettle and oven.  There are two bedrooms, two showers with toilets, two double beds, one single bed and an extra single that can be used if necessary in the kitchen/dining area. Comfortable accommodation for two couples or a family and decent for 5 or 6 people, maximum. There is no television but there is wifi throughout. Three nights’ minimum stay for 80 euros per night.

For booking and more detailed information, click here.

 

Brocante versus Vide Grenier

Tourists often confuse these two outdoor sales events but basically a Brocante is run by professionals and a Vide Grenier by either a local municipality and/or an association.

At a Brocante one can typically find lots of antiques in the form of cutlery, decoration, furniture, and jewelry. You’ll also find art in the form of sculptures, framed paintings, old posters, and textiles. The people behind the stands are professional buyer-sellers who spend much of their time collecting and then selling their treasured items at regular brocante markets around the region. Some travel from as far away as the North of France. My personal experience in shopping at Brocantes is that they often over-price items but if you tell the seller you are local and that you’d like to negotiate the price, they are mostly open to this.  It helps if your French is very good, of course. Continue reading Brocante versus Vide Grenier

Falaise des Arts – Spring expo at the Centre d’art la falaise

There’s a new exposition in town and it opened today at the Centre d’Art La Falaise, in Cotignac. The current collection features regional fine artists, sculptors and photographers (in alphabetical order): Elian Bachini, Jean Marie Cartereau, Chantal Casefont, Martine Doll, Michel Dufresne, Alain Francois, Vonick Laubreton, Stéphane Lovighi-Brougogne, Manuel Pontarelli, Eric Principaud and Carla Van Der Werf.

The centre is a beautiful renovated old chapel and was once a cinema from the 1930s until the early ’60s.  It was then turned into a restaurant until ten years ago when it became a garage until Mirabeau Wine turned the lower floor into its headquarters and boutique two years ago.  Anyone can enter the Centre d’Art on the first floor for a very reasonable fee of just two euros, benefiting the privately run non-profit foundation.  If you are a local or live here most of the year, I highly recommend getting a “Pass Privilège” for just 5 euros with access to all the expositions (not counting other events such as concerts or conferences) throughout the year. For more information and announcements, follow their facebook page here.

Opening hours from 15th April – 14th May: Tuesdays and Fridays  10h00-12h30 15h00-17h30, Thursdays (from 27th April) 10h – 12h30 and
weekends (Saturdays and Sundays):
11h00-12h30 & 15h00-17:30

-mardi – 10h à 12h30
– jeudi – 10h à 12h30

– vendredi – 10h à 12h30 et 15h à 17h30
– samedi – 11h à 12h30 et 15h à 17h30

– dimanche – 11h à 12h30 et 15h à 17h30

Follow their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/centredartlafalaise/?fref=ts

 

Stunning Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence

A stunning “immersion exhibition” of art inside the quarries of Les Baux de Provence, this is a must stop in Provence.  This season’s collection feature Dutch Rainassance artists Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, and the Italian Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Les Baux de Provence is approximately one hour and forty five minutes’ drive from Cotignac.

For more information in English click here.  Or go to: http://carrieres-lumieres.com/en/home

Tourtour in March, 2017

Tourtour is set on top of a windy hill (elevation 900 metres) with sweeping views all the way out to Frejus and the Mediterranean with the Mount St Victoire between. The population is just under 500 but the locals are a tight knit group who put on one of the most amazing festivals (fête de l’oeuf or the Egg Festival) around Easter every year. Tourtour is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and is well worth a detour when not too cold or windy. The little streets through the village houses are so full of charm and the restaurants serve simple yet freshly made food that of course goes rather well with a nice glass of chilled rosé or anything really. It’s about a 20 minutes’ drive from Cotignac, via either Aups or Villecroze (fastest). Continue reading Tourtour in March, 2017

Pretty Village House with view for longterm or holiday let

CURRENTLY available for long term (minimum 3 months’) let starting October 4th  2017 until mid April 2018. In the heart of the gorgeous village of Cotignac:

Also available for short term let over Summer 2017:
Dates available:
July 2nd – 4th, July 10th – 17,  July 31st – August 2nd,  August 18th – 27th, Sept 3rd – 18th.
Preferred minimum of 3 nights’ stay. Discounted rate of 99 euros per night when you mention Provence Living! A cleaning fee is charged at the end of your stay.
 Details of accommodation:
The village house, suitable for two couples or a four to five-member- family is just steps away from the centre of the village, but in a quiet neighbourhood (near the outdoor Théâtre du Rocher and the Place de la Mairie), has a new kitchen fully equipped with dining area on the ground floor, a master bedroom (one King size bed) with ensuite on the first floor, an additional bedroom (with 2 single beds that can be used separately or together to make one super king size) with separate bathroom on the second floor, and a large living room (convertible 4-poster futon bed) with bar and kitchenette on the top floor with 3 velux windows for lots of light. A mezzanine is just above this floor where there is an additional single sized bed suitable for a child or an adult guest. In total, the house has 124 square metres of living space (loi carré). Parking can be found about 30 metres away.
Nightly rate: 99 -135  euros (depending on season), one week minimum at 670 euros and 1,100 euros per month (minimum of 3 month’s stay) or if staying more than 3 months, the rent drops to 1,000 per month plus bills).  There is a mandatory cleaning charge of 55 euros requested at the end of the stay.

If you are interested in booking this house for your next holiday, please contact Susana directly at provencelivingconsulting@gmail.com or call +33 624 23 26 55. You can also book through AirBnB (site service charges apply): https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3771828?guests=4&s=pdK7

NB: interior furnishings may change slightly without notice

Village house photos (1) Village house photos (2)

 

 

 

Cotignac Snow (14)

 

Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Recently written up in our local newspaper the Var Matin, Le Mas de Cotignac offers Michelin standard “voluptuous” accommodation for even the fussiest of guests. If you are looking for a romantic break, a tranquil vacation, or a weekend getaway without the kids, this is the place to unwind and be luxuriously pampered.  They are located just outside the village. Le Mas de Cotignac is an exceptional bed and breakfast with table d’hôtes (possibility to book lunches and dinners) with swimming pool and jacuzzi.  And their service is also top notch and attentive to guests’ every need. Continue reading Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Cotignac at Christmas time

It’s the most wonderful time of year, or so the song goes, but the build-up to Christmas in Cotignac is indeed quite special! All the local merchants do their best at decorating their shop fronts and just before the big day there is always an annual Marché de Noël on a Sunday where all the locals and even many people from other villages come to enjoy the free entertainment (music, museums, mulled wine, local delicacies, etc) and this year was exceptional with our warm sun that decided to make dining on the terrace of the Cours Gambetta a real pleasure. We helped ourselves to some soup made by the international association Club 28, at the bottom of the Cours. For just 2 euros we had hot, scrumptious pumpkin soup and/or split pea with lardons (it really was good) home made by one of the association members. Then we bought a bottle of Mirabeau wine and drank it in the sunshine with treats like fresh apple beignets from a nearby stand. Continue reading Cotignac at Christmas time

Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa

Chateau de Berne used to be a small upscale auberge tucked into the middle of their vast property but nowadays boasts five stars for its hotel and spa facilities. They have invested heavily in making the resort top-notch with super equipment and amenities to excite and attract even the fussiest of upscale visitors. Continue reading Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa

Les Baux de Provence

Tourists from all over the world who visit the South of France flock to Les Baux and it’s not surprising; the region is already stunning but what makes Les Baux stand out is its dominant stone chateau and the white rocky hills that surround it.  From the top there are sweeping views across Arles, Camargues and the Alpilles. Les Baux is in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone (13) and about one hour and a half’s drive from Cotignac in the Var. Continue reading Les Baux de Provence

Summer day in Marseille

The second most populous city after Paris, Marseille has gone through some very impressive improvements lately.

The old port has always attracted lots of tourists (lots of shopping, fabulous restaurants serving what they are most famous for, the Bouillabaisse – a fish stew, made the right way is just to die for) but the West side now has a stunning new museum called the Mucem (displaying art from civilisations of Eruope and the Mediterranean) located just across from the more traditional arts museum; Regard en Provence. Continue reading Summer day in Marseille