Mount Ventoux, Provence
We decided on this visit to Provence, we would conquer "The beast of Provence" Mount Ventoux. You may know it from the tour de France. But lets get serious, We didn't cycle up! We were on vacation after all. We took the easy route and drove it. Non the less it still felt like it was an accomplishment (our little french hire car did not thank us)
We started off with a spot of lunch in the famous wine village of Chateauneuf du pape (certainly worth a visit) after a meeting with some of our wedding vendors at our venue, Chateau de Massilan (which I feel I must say, Iv heard has changed quite a bit since our wedding, unfortunately)
Our little car chugged up the mountain in absolute protest, only just managing to over take the super human and super fit cyclists (how on earth do they do it?) on the way. At 1,909 m (6,263 ft) it is not a small mountain. In fact its the highest in the region.
But well worth it for those views of the Rhone valley... incredible.
It really does give a different perspective of Provence and well worth the drive up to the top. What appears to be snow capped from from a distance is actually bare limestone in reality!
Thankfully, out little car coped better on the drive down..phew!
I can't see me trying to cycle up anytime soon i'm afraid...
On this throw back trip to Provence (Part 1 Here) we visited our wedding venue Chateau de Massillan for a menu tasting and to agree on some of the wedding plans.
We first discovered this gorgeous Chateau when we did our first road trip around the south of France. It will forever be one of our favourite vacations, for so many reasons. Finding the chateau was one of them.
We feel in love with its quirky design, its beautiful antique furniture and its twinkling chandelier's. It was so very my style. No garish colours to contend with, no carpets with bold designs to clash with, it was the preferably aesthetic canvas to create a vision. We loved that it felt like someone's beautiful home, rather than a hotel. And we loved that it has bucket loads of Character.
When my husband proposed, we both immediately wanted to get married here. We didn't even look at anything else, and that made it all the more special because it felt totally organic and almost like the venue choose us.
We wanted something that we could hire exclusively for our entire wedding weekend, so we could celebrate in complete privacy with our friend and massillan was perfect for this. The fact that it wasn't a wedding venue also had great appeal as it only made itself available for a handful of dates over the year. This was a big selling point to us as it felt a little bit more natural and unique.
It also had an amazing gastronomic restaurant, with absolutely incredible chef (Frédéric de Bourlout) and its own organic kitchen garden meaning all of the catering could be achieved in house (wedding cake aside) and would make this relatively stress free. The only difficult we did have was making the final choices...
As its coming up to our 5th wedding anniversary I will be sharing more from our wedding in Provence, so stayed tuned!
Re visiting Provence
This week we are off to one of my favourite places in the world... Provence! After an intentional 5 year absence in fact.
Provence is such a favourite, my husband and I were married there and haven't returned since. We have since been totally pleasure delaying. But this year marks our 5 year wedding anniversary, so it was time to re visit this gorgeous region, which hold an incredibly special place in our hearts.
So I thought id share some photos from one of our last trips there. Taken before my blog even existed, these are a bit of a blast from the past. Its interesting to me to see how far my photography has come!
Dress is an old one from ASOS but I found some alternatives below
One of our favourite towns and arguably the most beautiful in Provence is Gordes and I cannot wait to revisit. I'll never forget the first time I say this epic town into the mountains. I literally could not believe my eyes, and I totally fell in love.
Hand bag HERE
And once you make it inside the little town, it does not disappoint with its painted shutters and cute cafes.
On this trip we stayed at a lovely little Gite, just outside of Avignon. La Tour Vaucros is made up of a large Chateau and 4 former out buildings now made into quaint gites. We chose La Restanque des oliviers.
It great to have a base in Provence, at least for a few days so that yo can get out and explore the area without having to unpack and re pack when changing hotels. It also means that you can make full use of the amazing markets Provence has to offer. I think our ideal is a mixture of both, as there are also some amazing hotels to discover.
But where possible, its always a great idea to find something with a pool. You'll literally want to throw yourself in it after a day exploring in the summer heat.
You can follow along with our week in Provence next week on Instagram stories if you like :-)
A wedding is an event that often takes over a year of planning. This is because there are just so many factors involved such as hiring a venue that could be booked for well over a year, ensuring that the catering services are up to your standards and even giving your guests plenty of time to book off the dates so that they can make it.
However, not everyone wants to get involved with the wedding planning process and some people don’t want to make a huge deal out of their big day. Others just want to save on their wedding planning and would prefer for the process to be quicker, so there is some appeal to planning a wedding in a shorter amount of time.
Whether you’re looking to get married as soon as possible or if you want to quickly plan your big day so that you and your partner can get back to work as soon as possible, we’ve put together a couple of tips to help you put together a fantastic wedding in just a few short months.
Start with the simple things
There are a couple of important things that you need to consider first such as the wedding date and your budget. Once you’ve got these down, you’ll have a much easier time planning the event and also writing up invitations to friends and family members.
Get in touch with a wedding organiser
Whether it’s a planner that can handle the entire thing or a leading wedding show organiser to help you plan your entertainment, it’s vital that you rely on outside services to help you out. You don’t need to hire a dozen or more people to give you a hand, but it certainly does help to have a few helping hands. If you have relatives or friends that have planning experience then you can also ask them for help as well.
Don’t plan your wedding to last the entire day
The less you have to plan, the less time it will take. If your wedding doesn’t last the entire day then it’s more likely that your guests will be able to come if they treat it like a day out instead of a huge occasion that they need to prepare in advance for.
Don’t pick a venue that’s in the middle of nowhere
Although there are plenty of fantastic venues that you can book last minute, you ideally don’t want to book a venue that’s difficult to reach because it’s less likely that all of your guests will come. If you book a location in a city or on the outskirts then it’s far more accessible and travel arrangements will be much easier to make.
Consider what venues and services you want to include
Since you won’t be able to include some of the top venues and restaurants, you may need to think outside of the box. This includes asking restaurants if they can serve large buffet-style meals or considering a church as your wedding venue if they have availability. You want to write down a list of all the places that you want to include and then contact them one by one to see if they’re available.
Lazy afternoons in Marrakech
What do you do when you stay at a super cute, and incredibly relaxing interior design oasis in the middle of august when it literally sweltering (Note to self, Marrakesh in August is not for the faint hearted)
You take it easy and take it all in, thats what.
When booking the trip, we knew it might be a little too hot for us so we made sure we booked somewhere we wouldn't tire of and that would keep us entertained on the too hot to go out afternoons (it was 43 degrees at some points)
I really couldn't imagine how anyone could get bored here. There are so many areas to explore, and when your done exploring you can sit back and enjoy.
The rooftop is the place to head to if you fancy being a little more social. It had changed vastly since the last time we were here (see the post here) which is once of the things I love about El Fenn, its always evolving.
And heres another thing I adore. The deserts.
They really are incredible! All of the food here is fantastic, but the deserts really are stand out. So much so, we found ourselves shamelessly heading to the roof in late afternoon for something sweet, indulgent and totally calorific!
This is my final post from our trip to Marrakech, one of my favourite places in the world to visit. So much so, we've just booked another trip...
So I showed you around our suite at El Fenn at night (See the post here), but its only right you see it in all its daytime glory because it was just so freakin cute... and pink!
I loved that this suite had its own terrace and fireplaces galore, with amazing sweeping views over one of the hotels many pools. Its such a tranquil place, and you barley notice there are other guests staying here!
You can always tell how much I love a hotel by how many photos I take of it! I just could not stop snapping away at this place... It is such a unique place to stay. The use of light space and colour are really something special.
We woke up to the morning light streaming through the stain glass windows and birds singing as they flew through the riad.
Of course, the fact that this suite comes with its own private roof terrace and pool don't hurt! Its the prefect place to order a mint a tea and take a slower pace for the day.
The views of The Koutoubia Mosque (the largest mosque in Marrakesh) are just breathtaking and punctuates the sea of beige rooftops that go on for miles from this height.
Its fair to say that El fenn has been added to my ever growing favourite hotels in the world list! I do think that for me, hotels in Marrakech in particular are a sure win because I just love the french infused Moroccan interiors but that aside, El fenn is a truly special place.
Do you have a favourite hotel or riad to stay at in Marrackech?
Slow mornings in Marrakech
You know your going to have a great day when it starts with a swim in a roll top bath and the most delicious breakfast ever! That's how everyday starts at El Fenn.
I finally dragged myself out of the tub and the hub's and I headed to the roof top for quite the breakfast experience.
The rooftop is adorned with fiddle leaf fig trees and cactus in rustic terracotta pots and kind of feels like your dining in the tree tops!
I REALLY love how breakfast is served at El Fenn. You are presented with a giant tray filled with breakfast goodies... Home made granola (best iv ever tasted, and they'll even give you the recipe) eggs cooked to order, freshly baked pastries, fruit bowls and homemade yogurt. Its really quite the feast and quite the event.
Breakfast was really one of the things that set El Fenn apart for me. I'll confess that i'm so not a fan of the breakfast buffet. This was a welcome and indulgent treat, and was actually one of things I really looked forward to each day.
It was also here that I discovered Amlou - a thick brown paste with a texture similar to peanut butter obtained by grinding roasted almonds mixed with honey and argan oil. Amlou is known as a speciality from the South of Morocco and is usually used as a healthy dip or spread since its key ingredient is argan oil
Luckily the riad is big enough (and interesting enough) to take a stroll around and work off some of those breakfast calories...
Just another reason to love El Fenn...
If you fancy a night of candle light, dinner and dancing whilst visiting Marrakech I highly recommend Comptoir Darna
One of the things I love about Marrakech (I love may things about Marrakech in case you couldnt tell) is that by night it transforms into something completly glamorous and decedent.
Comptoir is all luscious fragrant roses (total win in my book) candlelight and fabulous cocktails and had a similar but much more refined vibe to Jad Mahal (I wrote about it here)
Put on your high heels and evening dress head out for the most fabulous experience.
They put on quite the show at comptoir. The live music and dancing candelabra ladies create such an exotic and glamorous vibe
And the food doesn't disappoint either. Who knew id become such a fan of Moroccan cuisine.
And don't be surprised (or shy) if they get you to dance too, its somewhat expected and lots of fun...
Le Jardin, Marrakech
Trying to leave El Fenn to venture out into Marrakech is not easy for the best reasons.
It had the loveliest spaces to explore and discover. Kind of like your staying at your fabulous friends house who has great style.
You cant walk down a corridor without finding something interesting to look at or a peacock chair to pose on (much to my husbands annoyance)
So when you do decide to leave, it had better be worth missing out on such a gorgeous place.
But le Jardin IS totally worth it. In fact id say its an absolute must. Its a super cute restaurant in the courtyard garden of a 16th Century riad
It would be worth a trip for the super cute styling alone (who would have thought id love somewhere almost entirely decorated in shades of green), but Le Jardin was one of the best lunches iv had in Marrakech to date.
As with many places iv visited in Marrakech, I found the interior design of El Jardin to be so unique and inspiring. Le jardin is all flower chairs, jewel tones green tile and fiddle leaf fig trees.
Order a mint lemonade while you take in the vibe and peruse the menu.
I ordered the Chicken and pear tagine and i'm not exaggerating when I say i'm still dreaming of it now. My husband ordered the chicken cous cous with apricots and pistachios which was equally as good so we ended up sharing.
We ordered the Tart poire tatin with spiced caramel sauce to finish which again was incredible.
And we finished with a pot of my favourite mint tea, which I could drink by the bucket load and am still trying to master at home!
How to shop the souk, Marrakech
The first time we visited the souk (I wrote about it here), we had friends with us to show us the ropes. This trip( part 1 here, part 2 here) we went it alone. Id be lying if I said shopping the souk wasn't a daunting task (am I really saying shopping is daunting?) for someone who isn't really into the bargaining angle.
However, with a little practise I found I became rather good at it. And dare I say I actually came to enjoy it.
My first tip is to get out to the souk early in the day and miss both the crowds and the heat. Plus we found it helps to be the first customer of the day.
Secondly, fuel up with a coffee or mint tea - Cafe des'epic is in a great spot central to the souk and great for people watching. Plus they have a wonderful roof terrace which is great for a different vantage point of the souk
Be friendly to stall owners and ask permission and they'll let you photograph to your hearts content. They are even more willing to oblige if you buy something. But there are around 10% who are absolutely not willing to let you take your shot, so best to use your judgement.
I always pick up tea and dried rose buds when we visit. The rose buds are great for decorating with and displaying in glass jars. When bargaining I typically aim to pay around 30/40 % of the price initially asked. Don't be afraid to barter. Its is totally expected, so leave the English sensibility at home
If you are unsure what some of the weird and wonderful items are, just ask. The stall owners are only too happy to demonstrate
I personally always try to be as covered as possible when visiting the souk in respect of the culture. A pashmina and maxi dress go a long way...
Always have your camera to hand. You never know when you'll find the perfect photo opp, and in a place like Marrakech the opportunity's are in abundance
And my final tip, use your imagination. There are so many unique and wonderful things for sale. Try and imagine ways you'd use them and incorporate into your home. You have a real opportunity to come away with fabulous unique items so take inspiration from the cafes/ shops and hotels in the area.
I tried to find alternatives to the dress im wearing as its now sold out, but was originally from Zara
On this trip, I picked up this beautiful antique brass serving tray, and also the bag i'm wearing. I also like to stock up on Moroccan style glasses in various colours and teapots.
I really hope these tips are helpful!? If you have any to share id love to hear about them in the comments for my next trip :)
A travel, beauty and lifestyle blog with the occasional afternoon tea by Angelina Belle
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