Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Name: Claude Bénard

Age: 47

Hometown: Marseille, France

Claude is clearly a discerning and caring man!

Diva Minds Want to Know…

1. Where do you like to flirt?

Well, France and the Provence area have great and romantic places for this ;-)

Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Riviera places….
But maybe when you fall in love you will find that every place in the world is the best place to be with the person you love!

2. Where’s your favorite table for two?

I suggest hotel-restaurant La Fenière in Lourmarin. A great small hotel, charming with Provence taste and with one of the best restaurants in the area with a one star Michelin rating. The chef de cuisine is a women, Reine Sammut. She is very simple and open mind. Also she arranges special cours de cuisine or cooking classes to learn provençale and mediterranean cuisine. It’s in French: mon petit pêché mignon. I try to translate as, “my small, cute catch.”

See the web site: http://www.reinesammut.com

3. Where should we stay when we visit (besides your place)?

The Marseille area has international hotels. I suggest to stay in Aix-en-Provence or in the Lubéron area or Avignon area (close to Aix-en-Provence) where you can find small and charming hotels and Châteaux (castles).

4. What quality do you find irresistible in a woman?

Women have a special regard for life- more open and with more respect for all the life.
Well, after I say that, I love women who laugh, with a sense of humour and also a little bit sexy!

5. Where can we find you on a free Sunday afternoon? Just roll over?

During spring and summer I will dive. I was a scuba-diving instructor in another life (20 years ago) and now I dive only for my pleasure. During winter I like skiing and specially ski touring. Alpes Montains are just at 3 hours by car from Marseille and I try to escape busy business life with some friends to go to ski.

6. What do you love most about your city (besides our arrival)?

Marseille is a harbor with most parts of the city close the Mediterranean Sea. So I love that. Also it’s a meelting pot here, and I like that. And all my best friends are people born in Marseille.

7. What should we bring when we visit your town? What should we leave with?

Bring nothing special except your normal tourist stuff.

Come back home with:

– Santon: small human figurines. I recommanded my friend, a woman, Mireille Fouque who manages Santons Fouques in Aix-en-Provence. Great artisanal figurines.

– Olive oil from Les Baux de Provence

– Lavender parfum and oil

– Crafts: ceramic from Moustier Sainte-Marie, fabrics (special cottons)

– And of course, some Provence food and wine (great wines are: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cassis, Bandol, and more, more…)

8. What do we absolutely have to see while we’re there?

These 3 cities: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. And this touristic spot , the city of Cassis, well know for great wine (red and rosé) and the small fishing harbor. A place you have to visit with the woman or man who is in your heart. Also Arles City and Camargue (natural park) have to be seen.

9. Any areas of town we should avoid?

For a first stay in Provence, try to follow my first advise. For a second trip, try to go in the landscape and find small Provence villages.
Avoid? Well, focus on my advice and you will see the best and taste the best!

10. Any local secrets you want to share?

Hummmm! I suggest to go to these places:

Hotel: Relais & Châteaux Abbaye de Sainte-Croix (Magnificient XII
century Abbey) see web site http://www.hotels-provence.com/
Ask for Catherine Bossard, a women ;-)) the owner and General Manager

Restaurant in Aix-en-Provence: Le Passage, http://www.le-passage.fr/
Good and refined food, new decoration, the « in » restaurant of the city

In Marseille, go to « Vallon des Auffes », it’s a small fishing harbor in Marseille city, close to center, but when you arrive you feel you are in another world and outside time (also a charming place to romance ;-))))

Also in Vallon des Auffes you can find 2 great restaurants: « Chez FonFon » and « l’Epuissette ». Great place to eat fishes and « La Bouillabaisse » the special fish preparation of Marseille cuisine

I wish you all (Tango Divas and Divo’s) a great and smart trip to Provence.

Claude

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