Dear Everyone,

Our dinner last night at L’hotel Beavallon was with the director of marketing for the hotel.   he showed us around and then we had an elegant dinner, 3 courses, foie gras, steak and dessert, with 3 different wines. The tablecloths are always lovely damask with matching napkins, usually white or a very light pastel yellow or peach color, the tables perfectly set and the service impeccable. They come around and scrape off your crumbs and always clear everything between courses.

I got up this morning early again to swim with my buddy from the tourist office, Tink, is her nick-name and the sky was pink again behind the clouds. The Jacuzzi at the hotel was warm and bubbly and a great reward after swimming. The pool was right down on the beach and if it hadn’t been so early–dark when we started–we’d have gone into the Med.

After breakfast, we drove to a Formula 1 racetrack and had a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to ride in a Formula 1 racecar. People pay $500 for this experience and though I was terrified, I did it. We had to wear a jump suit, helmet, gloves, special shoes and earplugs.

We sat behind the driver and there was a red button we could push if we got scared and wanted him to slow down. I pushed on it a lot!  The normal speed is about 150 mph, so he probably slowed down to about 120 for me–still really fast, but I did it. It would have been so easy to pass and not do it, but I decided to ‘just do it’.

People can pay about $2,000 to spend the day learning how to drive the racecars in the morning and then actually take a few laps round the track in the afternoon. They pay by the lap! Photos to follow!

We then drove back to near where we stayed the first two nights to have lunch with two female wine makers of the “Cotes de Provence” types of wines. They make about 80% rosé wines, which are served chilled, since it gets so hot here in the south. They also make some white and red wines. I hit it off with one of the wine makers and she invited me back to her chateau next week when I have some free days. I think I will go back. It would be lovely to stay at a big estate and rest and get caught up on the writing.

Then we drove to Aix and got into our hotel just long enough to drop off our bags and leave for a tour. Aix is such a special town, with buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries and so many fountains everywhere. We’ll meet up for dinner in a while, but I just had time to whip off a few lines here. No pool to swim in tomorrow!

On a group press trip like this–I’ve only been on two others–the dynamic between the people on it can sometimes be a challenge. Like the rest of life, there’s the press trip, with all the tours, meals, jet lag, etc. and laid on top is the group and how everyone gets along. We’re crammed into a van off and on all day and though there are moments, overall it has been fun. All the same, I’m looking forward to being on my own again on Friday.

Hoping tonight’s dinner is light!  But oh well, it is just a few days and it is all so delicious. I am going back to the spa here on Friday afternoon for a massage and two other soins and that will be such a reward for all this ‘work’ of being in the group and running around Provence. The spa is going to ‘comp’ the treatments, I believe.

So for now, au revoir, and more soon.

Hugs from here,

Diane

'Fall in Provence' 2008

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