Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A birthday party in Bonnieux Provence

Bonnieux is one of many pretty Provence villages, and a marvelous place to have a home and party!
One of the nice things about getting older and not having to go to work every day is you can accept an invitation to a birthday party, even if it's on another continent. In this case, the invitation came from Joanna Staniszkis who divides her time between Vancouver and Bonnieux in the south of France. Everyone who knows Joanna admires her extraordinary range of talents and volume of work...whether it's hanging in the lobbies of prestigious Vancouver office buildings or on the bodies of ladies who have frequented her South Granville shop.

In addition to her work in Vancouver, Joanna has also made her mark in France where she has undertaken the renovation of a number of historic properties. Her latest undertaking is in Bonnieux, near Aix and Avignon, where she has lived part-time for many years.  She is now renovating a property in the middle of the town and was initially quite concerned over the fact that 60+ people were coming from around the world to celebrate a special birthday, and her contractor was not going to get the new concrete floors poured in time.
The very artistic Joanna in her future studio (once the floor is poured).
But it made for a most dramatic picture....this very old property, with its ancient stone walls and in-floor radiant cables temporarily covered by sheets of particle board, waiting to be encased in concrete, and standing at the end...the guest of honour.
Joanna and some local of whom made her own hat for the occasion!
Andre Molar arrived wearing Staniskis and Yamamoto (I think it was Yamamoto).
As expected, the food was quite different from what's normally served at a Vancouver birthday party.

As the evening progressed all eyes were on the sky as lanterns were set adrift.
Some of the guests from Vancouver included artist Lilian Broca and the Goodman Report's David Goodman; Julie Molar and Andre (who in the 70's and early 80's was Vancouver's first condo king!) and Bogue Babicki who designed many innovative structures but now devotes himself to making very good wine!

The Goodmans, Sally and I stayed at an extraordinary property which I can highly recommend. The end wall of our room was a large shutter that could be completely opened by remote control, exposing the Provence landscape and fields of lavender.
At Une Siesta en Luberon breakfast was taken in the garden
Our room overlooking the garden and swimming pool
David Goodman prepares for the next day's adventure.
The party was quite extraordinary, but so were the side trips, to market day in Apt,
Market day in Apt.

Don't ask me why this lady brought this animal to market.

and Lacoste,where the Marquis de Sade once lived in an old castle which today is being renovated, at great expense, and with much local disgust, by Pierre Cardin. (Neighbours don't like the fact he's had artists faux painting new concrete walls.)
Lilian and Sally spend mothers day at the Marquis de Sade castle.

Other side trips included Minerbes made famous by the book A Year in Province;
Sadly, Minerbes has gotten just a bit too cute for my liking.
A most impressive church in Gordes
The view of Gordes as you approach the town is quite stunning.
Gordes, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France; and a winery that's quite a bit older than most Okanagan wineries.

This has been the start of a three week tour of Provence and Languedoc during which we will visit Margot Paris and Chuck Brook who sold their North Vancouver home and purchased a place in the south of France....causing many of us to reconsider what we're doing with the final decades of our own lives!

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