About Jackie Grandchamps
Jackie Grandchamps obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in Belgium, and then moved to the U.S. in 1995 to conduct cancer research at Stanford University in California. Her heart has always been in travel however, and she turned her passion into a full time job in 2003 when she launched her travel business, French Escapade offering an authentic travel experience to women.
She says, "I wanted to make my dream come true: sharing my love of traveling and giving people the opportunity to really experience a different culture. Instead of the traditional 'tourist' sightseeing trip to France, I wanted to immerse very small groups of women in the culture, let them meet locals, eat authentic cuisine and 'live' an authentic experience. That's how French Escapade was born.”
Latest Posts by Jackie Grandchamps
Another gorgeous day in Gordes, a hilltop village which is listed one of the most beautiful villages in France and rightly so.We first went for a view from outside the village, on the “monkey hill”, name given by the villages to the rock where all the tourists stand to take pictures. Then we started to paint…
Here is a painting by Karen of the hilltop village:
This painting is a little shelter from the 19th century still standing, next to the road, painted by Robin:
Bruni, the watercolorist, used her imagination to paint lavender, red poppies and more….
Julie, an other watercolorist on the trip, started to sketch way before everyone else was set up:
Go to Gordes and get your paint brushes out if you love to draw, paint or create or your cameras out for a different kind of visual capture. Or you can just sit under an oak tree and eat camembert cheese, walnut salami, blue cheese, cherries and rabbit pate. Just a thought.
Venasque is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. But unlike some others like Roussillon where we went two days ago, Venasque doesn’t have shops or cafes or ice cream places. Therefore, there are very few tourists there which is perfect for the painters.
I went with Pat, who doesn’t paint, to visit the oldest baptistery in France, dated from the 6th century. It is located under the 12th century church from the village. The 6th century baptistery has actually been built on a Roman temple. There are very few remains of the roman time but there were some marble columns from the roman temple along with a marble piece that was found in a sarcophage.
The houses from the village date from the 16 to the 19th century. Since 1967, there is a regulation that requires owners to respect the style of the original house when they renovate.
In the center is a fountain and some villagers come and decorate it with natural flowers. A treat for the painters.
Here is Durinda’s oil painting of the fountain (Durinda was our art instructor for a week):
How often can you have a picnic sitting on a 13th century rempart? Well, we did while in Venasque.
The remparts are incredibly thick: 3 walls separated by arches, big enough that you can pose in it…
The mistral (cold wind from the North) was blowing all day making it hard to paint but the village was nevertheless beautiful.
At the end of the day, we went to a nougat factory, small one, owned by two brothers. Nougat is a sweet made in Provence and is part of the 13 desserts served at Christmas.
Today, we found a great poppy field. Some people layed down in it, posed for pictures, others used them as inspiration to paint. How can French countryside, a field of poppies and French food bring you nothing but pure joy?
Durinda has helped Ruth with her first painting so Ruth was happy to show it. Her first painting and it is with poppies!
Cam and her red glassess match the red poppies. All in style.
Pat had 15 min of pure joy in the poppies.
For picnics: Melon from Cavaillon, salami with walnuts, camenbert, brie, blue cheese, mustard from Dijon, cherries from Venasque, olives from Nyons, and much more….A little American touch with the some chips!
Art teacher Durinda Cheek set out to get a group of women painting in France’s Provence during an oil and watercolor workshop. She brought both to demonstrate. So much to be inspired by – the mas we are staying in is still the same as last week: the restored 17th century house. Onto a painting frenzy and then some. Tons of color, tons of imagination, tons of passion.
The day started with Durinda hanging out materials and then everyone one run off to the garden to start painting.
Barbara is the quick one. She painted 3 oil painting in the morning and was busy painting a watercolor in the afternoon.
Durinda found her spot and painted tiles, roofs and cypresses.
Jeanne was “cheating” a little by painting a painting…..
We headed off to Saint Remy de Provence, famous because of Van Gogh — he asked to be internalized in the hospital. This is where he painted 150 of his famous painting like irises, starry night, etc…It was very emotional. We first walked through the 12th century cloister and took a lot of pictures. And then of course, the paint came out…
Since the place is still used to treat women with mental disabilities, everyone was very quiet to respect their space. That added to the atmosphere. The garden was full of irises of different colors, even pink irises.
After the visit, and the picnic, everyone watched Cherry’s demo in oil painting before painting on their own. What a treat to be able to paint the same trees Van Gogh painted 150 years ago!
After the painting session, everyone went to explore St Remy. Kirsten and Cherry made the most interesting discovery: a pedicure session make with living fishes! Yes really. You put your feet in a tank full of fishes and they do the job. They do eat the dead skin and anything bad on your feet. Everyone else was grossed out. I think if Cherry had the time, she would have tried. Just talking about it to Ann, made her sick in her stomach. I don’t think Ann will ever try.
Ahhh, France and its natural beauty. We headed to Roussillon, the ochre town. Soil, cliffs, houses, everything is red from the ochre.
Some of us couldn’t wait to start painting and off they go, painting the village of Roussillon:
Some others wanted to sink in the atmosphere of the place and relax under the sun with a cup of coffee. Not being a painter, I joined them.
In the afternoon, we head off for Bonnieux, a cute medieval village not far from Roussillon. Cherry knew of two artists there and she wanted all of us to meet them. Today the theme is red and …..the artist had bright red hair. Too bad I don’t have a picture of her.
Then we searched for a field of red poppies that Cherry and Kirsten found prior to the trip. With their instructions and some directions, we found it. It was sooooo worth it. The biggest red poppy field I have ever seen. We spent time taking pics of the poppies and of each other. It was fun.
The day was not over. We then went to the supermarket and Doris and Jackii got a wheeled cart because they were planning on buying a lot of ….wine for a little aperitif party later on.
And the sun, that was not red!!!, was shining all day. Another wonderful day in Provence.
I am in Switzerland touring around, the West part of the country, the French speaking part, close to Geneva lake, in the heart of Gruyere.
Cheese making is serious business here, and cheeses are slightly different when made at different altitudes. The best or most traditional cheeses are made at higher altitudes, so in June some farmers take their cows up into the mountains, stay there with them until the end of September, and make cheese. The sound of distant cowbells is a common and pleasing sound here.
Today the girls went shopping. They didn’t have to go very far…inside the house there is my portable French Escapade shop: visors, shirts, table cloths,…Of course, all painters chose visors (not that they will use them now with this cold weather!!!!(.
Anne and Judy bought the same shirt also, looking like twins:
Judy and Anne and their new French Escapade outfit
Judy decided to wear her new table cloth as a skirt. Why not?
Judy and her new skirt
Niki and Nancy bought the same visor so I wanted to take their picture together but Joan wanted to be in the middle because she didn’t belong to any picture:
Niki, Joan and Nancy and their new French Escapade visors
The shopping was done in 10 minutes because they wanted more paint more or was it to eat more? For sure, for Joan it was to eat more. She admitted that she came on the trip for the French food and she was not disappointed. She is now doing a little painting for the chef to thank him for his wonderful food.
Our chef, Mr Poulet