Memories tour/18 ~ Day 10

Catching up on our tour! I think I may have published the last post twice so sorry about that. It’s been a crazy two weeks.

On Day 10, our first stop was the renowned and lively Wednesday market that winds through much of the old town in quaint St. Rémy-de-Provence. The exceptional selection of wares spill from stalls that fill narrow alleys and shady squares … every Provençal product your heart desires may be found here.  With a wide choice of bistros and cafés to stop for a break and plenty of street music to entertain, the morning passed quickly.

As the happy shoppers returned to the bus, after lunch, it was noted that several new suitcases had been purchased. Hmmm…

Then we had a short drive to the edge of town, stopping at the monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole, which was also an asylum when van Gogh admitted himself there in May 1889. He remained until May 1890 and painted some of his most important works during that time. There is a peace and serenity found here, inside, and also in the back garden as well as in the stunning Romanesque cloister. You can feel Vincent’s spirit here. It’s one of my favourite stops on our tour.


Then we hopped back on our coach and a half-hour later arrived at another special spot … Les Carrières des Lumières … for a spectacular multi-media presentation in an old quarry below the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence. This year’s exhibit is based on Picasso and other Spanish artists. It’s a truly breathtaking experience.

Next was a photo op at the best place to capture the image of the medieval hilltop village of Les Baux, ruins and all.

And a surprise stop, thanks to our bus driver, at the Abbaye de Montmajour.

Now I need your help, ladies from the tour! My dinner photos have vanished! Please send me a few. Thanks!

Most of all today, we missed our co-leader Deborah Bine after her accident the day before.  Please visit co-leader and BFF, Deborah Bine’s Barefoot Blogger site to see how she is coming along. Remember too, she regularly posts all sorts of great articles on her travels and life in France. 

Want to join us in 2019? Contact travel expert extraordinaire, Nancy McGee, at Absolutely Southern France. She already has an “early bird” list filling up.  We’re excited!


Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 9

Whoops! I got a bit behind on sharing posts about our September south of France tour here. I was sidetracked for the past two weeks with copyedits and cover details for my new Christmas book releasing on November 15. I’ll share that info with you in my next post.

The cover art was created through two of the women on our tour! How’s that for exciting? Major thanks to talented artists ~ Clare Strohman and Donna Fedele.

Now back to our unforgettable South of France Memories Tour with an amazing group of women! I’m having so much fun reliving those days as I sift through the photos.

Our day in the Camargue got off to an exciting start. We were ready to explore the world of the fictional Jacques de Villeneuve, from Drawing Lessons, and eager to see the legendary horses, bulls, and flamingos of this unique region.

A welcoming committee was waiting for us. The famous white horses are brown or grey when first born.


We began with a Jeep safari, chauffeured by three enthusiastic and well-informed guides. Great fun!

We drove past the ancient walled town of Aigues-Mortes and into the countryside of the Camargue, passing the classic manade dwelling of the Camargue gardiens (cowboys who work with the bulls and horses) as well as black bulls, flamingos, horses and ending with a tailgate wine tasting!

After an adventure-filled morning, we returned to the 11thC town of Aigues-Mortes for a short tour and time to browse and eat lunch.

The Matafère Tower in the background was ordered built by Charlemagne in 795. King Louis IX twice departed for the Crusades from this town, first for the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and again for the Eighth Crusade in 1270 for Tunis from which he never returned.

The last stop for the day was a visit to the famous salt marshes.

Dinner was a few minutes’ walk from our hotel, in yet another stunning setting.

Now this is the part that is hard to write about. As Deborah, my co-leader and dear friend, and I were walking back to the bus after lunch, she tripped and fell. Without going into all the details here, we had to send her off to the hospital in Nimes by ambulance. It was an upsetting incident for all and we were fortunate that an old friend of Deborah’s was on the tour, who is also a nurse. She went along in the ambulance, for which we were most thankful.

Deborah has detailed her journey with her injuries on her blog ~ click right here to go to the Barefoot Blogger page. and it is best to read about it in her words. We missed her for the last three days of the tour and everyone has stayed in touch with her as she continues in rehab therapy. The good news is that she is doing well and has maintained her amazing spirit and good humour … and she is keen to do the tour again in 2019. <3

Have you ever visited the Camargue? Please share your story if you have. And by the way, contrary to popular lore, we didn’t see one mosquito!

Please visit co-leader and BFF, Deborah Bine’s Barefoot Blogger site for an excellent article on the Camargue as well as tons of other great info on her travels in France.

Lest we forget ~ November 11, 2018

Remembrance Day ~ Canada

Tomorrow at the 11th hour of the 11th day in this the 11th month, our country will pause for two minutes’ silence to remember those  heroes who have given their lives and in respect of all who offer their service … in every country. 

We owe so much to so many.


I have posted this page in years past on this date. Since there are many new followers of my website, I want to share it again for those who haven’t seen it. For others, I hope you don’t mind the repetition. I feel these stories can never be shared too often.

In 2010, my husband and I went on a journey to locate the grave of my Uncle Harry whose Lancaster bomber had been shot down on June 13, 1944, near Cambrai, France. All six crew members  perished.


We discovered they are buried in a small Allied cemetery in the middle of farmland, rather than in one of the major cemeteries in France.

It was quite an experience just finding it, but that’s a story for another day. When I inquired as to why they were in that location, the Office of Military Affairs explained that they had been buried there by the nearby villagers at the time and so would remain close to where they had died. The cemetery was immaculately tended … and watched over by curious cows.


Coincidentally, just a week before our visit, another relative of one of the crew had visited the cemetery. He left a note in the guest book (found in metal boxes at every cemetery) that gave us some personal information about the day these men died. They had been on a bombing raid over the rail yards in Cambrai. The war was being won. The men were heading back to their base in England to make it in time for the local dance that evening.

Sadly, they did not get there.

Learning this small piece of personal information, made our visit that much more emotional and intimate.

As a child, I had always been intrigued by stories about my Uncle Harry, the youngest of 5 boys, and only 20 years old when he died. There were framed photos of him in his uniform with a dazzling smile in my parents’ and grandparents’ homes. You could feel his pride. And theirs.

When we went on our mission to ‘find Uncle Harry’, we also spent a few days in Normandy and did the tours of the WW2 landing beaches, something I recommend to everyone who has the opportunity.

It’s an emotional experience as the history of the war becomes vividly presented by guides who must take courses in this information and pass exams before receiving a license to guide. The French take the preservation of this history very seriously and are to be commended for doing so.


As we toured the museums and memorial centres, it struck me that in so many of the photographs of men and women in service for their country, pride was stirringly evident in their expressions. It seems to go with the wearing of the uniform and the understanding of what that represents.

Thank you to every one of the members of armed services – past and present – for putting yourself in danger for your country and taking on that onerous task with such commitment. We are proud of you and eternally grateful.

Thank you, Uncle Harry.

Normandy 2010

Wear your poppy proudly. Please make certain to preserve and keep alive the stories of the members of your families who have served in the armed forces. Always remember. In doing some research, I discovered this excellent video. It only pertains to the American cemeteries but could be talking about all of the Allied burial grounds.


No matter what our country, hearts are touched by the selfless giving of all who serve. The museums and preserved landing beaches of Normandy offer an emotional lesson in historyto all who have the good fortune to visit there.

Most Canadians proudly wear a poppy for a week or so before November 11th to show their respect for veterans. Click here for an  excellent explanation of how the poppy came to be such a strong symbol of remembrance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have you preserved stories of your family’s service?

Reviews, sales, gratitude …

Every book review is of value to an author and always appreciated. There are times when thoughts are expressed that go straight to an author’s heart. They provide inspiration and motivation … encouragement to keep writing.

Since all my books set in France are on sale for one more week (thank you, Amazon!), I wanted to share two recent reviews with you: one for The Promise of Provence and another for Drawing Lessons.

Thank you so much, Denise Birt of Novels & Latte Book Club for this first one.

The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands
As an avid reader, I have enjoyed so many wonderful books, in just this year alone…..but once in awhile a story comes too us that leaves such an impression that it becomes part of us. This is a story so rich and wonderful and a must read for any woman who feels she has seen and felt hurt, abandonment, a sense of not belonging – life’s sting of failed relationships, loss and her own restraints which hold her from moving forward.
Looking at the cover of Patricia Sand’s, The Promise of Provence, which is delightful in its own right, you might think it to be a cozy romance or even a sweet little story of sugarey-delight….but this story holds much more than you would expect.
Patricia writes of strength, new beginnings, new experiences, family and it’s history, strong friendships along with the insertion of the most beautifully described scenery and old-world charm that will make you actually feel it’s presence.
The writing is fluid and impeccably executed. The characters are written as real and believable.
I am not one to write reviews too include spoilers and with this particular story, I feel it imperative to hold true to that.
The Promise of Provence will make you feel and experience all emotions. It is smart, funny, sassy, sad, superbly researched and of course, a most gratifying and meaningful read. A scenic stroll through life itself.
I feel this story exudes the very meaning of being true to one’s self. It wasn’t just a book I read, it was an experience.
The Promise of Provence; Book one in the Love in Provence series
5 Stars ☕☕☕☕☕
#PatriciaSands #ThePromiseofProvence
Novels N Latte Book Blog
Novels & Latte Book Club

And the same gratitude to Lynn Olsson for this heartfelt review of Drawing Lessons.

‎Lynn Olsson‎ to Patricia Sands
October 19 at 6:05 PM ·
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Drawing Lessons from Patricia Sands and I thought I would share my thoughts with you on finishing the book. Usually I race through a book to get to the end. But with Drawing Lessons I found myself almost rationing the number of pages I read each night. I didn’t want the fun to end. This is a heartwarming story of a woman faced with the tragedy of living with her huband’s dementia and who finds a way back to reconnect with her own self. Before she was a wife and mother, she was an artist. And this is her journey in rediscovering the artist she thought she’d lost. A beautiful story. Treat yourself to this one.



THE PROMISE OF PROVENCE, PROMISES TO KEEP, I PROMISE YOU THIS ~ ebooks are $1.99   paperbacks are half price 🙂

DRAWING LESSONS ~ ebook $1.99   paperback $6.95


Memories tour/18 ~ Day 8 ~ Arles

Ahhh, enchanting, ancient Arles. After just one day here, everyone is in love with this enticing town. Yesterday we were in Sète so we would not miss the Sunday seafood market. This morning we’re ready to spend the day exploring our home base for this week, with our guide, Valerie.

I’m thrilled to hear that everyone is excited about seeing places they read about in my novel, Drawing Lessons. What a pleasure this is for me too!

Down the street from our hotel and around the corner, and we are in the heart of the town, Place de la République.

The Cathédrale Saint-Trophime, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, is our first stop.

From here we moved on to relive some of Vincent van Gogh’s brief, but prolific, time in Arles from February 1888 to May 1889. As troubled emotionally as he was, his artistry was at a high point and his spirit lives throughout Arles.

The Fondation Vincent van Gogh.

The ancient Roman presence in Arles wraps around you in a way that keeps the aura and the history alive. The coliseum, Les Arènes, and Théâtre Antique host regular events throughout the year.

And still so much more exploring to be done …

A visit to the Musée Arles Antique/Archeological Museum is a good idea to see the vast collection of artifacts, including the marble bust of Julius Caesar and the Roman barge (don’t miss the video showing the powerful story of how this undertaking was accomplished).

And then there are doors … did I mention the doors … from one extreme to the other. Doors that are impossible for my camera to resist. Would you feel the same?

And shopping … excellent shopping through the many small streets of this beautiful town situated on the banks of the Rhône.

And that evening … say no more … santé …

Have you ever been to Arles? It’s definitely high on my most-recommended places to visit.

Be sure to click on over to the website of my good friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger. She has posted wonderful articles about many of the places we visit on our tour.


Memories tour/18 ~ Day 7 ~ a Sunday in Sète!

On our first morning in Arles, we met on the front terrace of our hotel Le Cloître to set off on today’s adventure. This would become a favourite gathering spot, morning and evening, under the magnificent giant Paulownia tree.


After a one-hour drive southwest from Arles, we arrived in the Mediterranean port and seaside resort of Sète.

Nancy McGee, owner of Absolutely Southern France, (who brilliantly organized the logistics of our tour), joined us IN PERSON ~ woohoo! Sète is her home, so who better to show us around?

With a stop at Nancy’s favourite fromager …

And on to a few other specialty shops to taste local goodies … zézettes are my favourites and check out the packaging!

Next we reached the amazing market … no question Sète is a seafood lovers’ delight … where Nancy had a sampling buffet organized …

Nancy’s buffet surprise … miam, miam (French for yum, yum …)

Next stop, lunch at the beach …

Last stop … an education in oyster farming … oh yes, and tasting … do you or don’t you?

Later that evening, back in Arles, a relaxing delicious dinner in a family-run bistrot that opened just for our group … lovely evening … with a moonlight stroll past the 2000-year-old arena, around the corner from our hotel. In Arles, thousands of years of history live all around you … c’est magique!

Le sigh …

Be sure to click on over to the website of my good friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger. She has posted wonderful articles about many of the places we visit and this one in particular is a great post about Sète.



Memories tour/18 ~ Day 6 ~ On the move!

This morning, as we said au revoir to the stunning Côte d’Azur I heard many voices promising to return! In spite of this past week’s unforgettable experiences, there is still so much to see and do. In our comfortable private coach we made our way down the Promenade des Anglais, taking along a wealth of fine memories.

Our first stop for part of the day was Aix-en-Provence.  Steeped in history, this has been an important crossroads since the 3rd Century BC. Our drive on the busy motorway carried us past the majestic Mont Sainte-Victoire which was painted by Cézanne more than eighty times. Paul Cézanne is regarded as the most famous son of Aix, where he was born and died, and his work is celebrated there now although this was not always the case. He’s described by both Picasso and Matisse as “the father of us all”.

It was a market day in Aix (pronounced simply “ex”), with colourful vendors in stalls up and down the Cours Mirabeau selling all manner of products. Free time offered everyone plenty of opportunities to explore.

There was also time to enjoy lunch before meeting up for our walking tour. Even the tour leaders took a break in the heart of the old town!

I love the wrought iron bell towers of Provence that allow the worst Mistral to blow right through!

Famous for its fountains, universities, and support of the arts, Aix is an interesting town in which to spend some time. It’s an excellent half-way stop on the way from the coast to the countryside of Provence.


In the afternoon we met our guide for a walking tour “In the Footsteps of Cezanne”. It was comprehensive and well worth the time.

Les Deux Garçons began serving meals in 1792 and was a popular dining spot of Cézanne’s. It may not be the finest place for gourmet meals in town, but definitely is worth a stop for an apéro or a coffee to appreciate the historic ambiance.

After a most satisfying afternoon, our merry group continued on to our home for the next week ~ enchanting ancient Arles.  Our celebratory rooftop welcome at Hôtel Le Clôitre set the tone for the remainder of our stay. Get the idea?

There was time to rest and be ready to … yes … feast again, at dinner under the stars on the hotel’s ground level terrace. Our tapas meal was delicious and the beginning of a new adventure in this part of the Bouches-du-Rhône region.

A highlight was the surprise visit by a local musician who entertained everyone with his soul-searing renditions of Gipsy Kings songs. The original Gipsy Kings’ families are from the area around Arles and their fusion of flamenco, salsa, and pop became synonymous with the region.

   An additional surprise was a parade later in the evening, celebrating the rice harvest of the Camargue. Yes, we even for cheered tractors!

This was what you might call an extremely full day! Even so, some of the group still found time for a late night libation. The excellent location of our hotel meant it was a stroll of only a few minutes to finally fall into bed.

Be sure to visit the website of my friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger where you will find all sorts of great articles on more places in France than you can imagine. I’m telling you … that lady gets around! Click right here!

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 5 ~with a slight glitch!

Be still my heart! On Day 5, we had a full day to wander where my heart lives … and where my Love in Provence series is set … enchanting Antibes.

This was a wonderful day of strolling the streets we’ve all read about, taking photos, picturing Katherine, Philippe and the other characters from the stories going about their lives. It was such great fun to listen to the chatter and comments. And Mother Nature continued to provide perfect weather.


Best fans ever!

On the search for Philippe, the handsome fromager in the Antibes Marché Provençal!



These 500-year-old doors are true inspiration, crafted for the church to give thanks for local villagers surviving a dreadful plague.

To be continued …




Memories tour/18 ~ Day 4

Okay, please don’t judge me ~ I’m slooooowly posting about every day on our tour. I have a lot more photos and will eventually get them into an online album. In the meantime, I’m at least compiling a (brief) daily photo journal of the wonderful memories we made together.

On Day 4, we had an easy morning with everyone free to do whatever they pleased … sleeping in, shopping, catching the Musée Chagall or Matisse, exploring the old town, or climbing Castle Hill. So many choices!

At 12:30 we met our guide Stephanie, boarded our comfy coach in Nice, and wended our way along the Moyenne Corniche, enjoying the spectacular views where the hillsides drop precipitously to the azure sea.

After a brief history concerning the stunning hilltop village of Eze, we committed to heading straight up the steep cobblestone allées to the 12thC castle ruin at the top of Jardin Exotique. The panorama from here at 1400 ft above the Mediterranean is worth the climb.

Below is another perspective of Eze that I took on a day when I drove along the Haute Corniche … a bird’s eye view.

From Eze, we drove back down to the sea and spent a leisurely afternoon exploring the stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its breathtaking gardens and dancing fountains in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.



At the end of the day, another fine evening!


Be sure to visit the website of my friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger, where you will find all sorts of great articles on more places in France than you can imagine. I’m telling you … that lady gets around! Click right here!

Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 3

I’m in catch-up mode! Do you ever find yourself in this situation with so many good intentions but not enough time?

On this day we began by settling into our comfortable private coach and driving up into the hills above Nice and Cannes to Grasse, the world’s perfume capital since the late 1700s. Our first destination was to tour the Fragonard perfume factory, family-run since 1926.

Next we drove along a picturesque winding road to the medieval village of, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, one of my favourite places. We had time for lunch and a quick stroll.

A half-hour later we were in the charming hilltop walled village of Saint-Paul de Vence , with its storied history of attracting artists. After talking about this fabled past during our bus ride, there was free time to stroll the cobblestone streets and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and art galleries … and, of course, shop. Many also took the time to visit the grave of Chagall who lived there for the last 30 years of his life.

Stay tuned for Day 4!