Hi, I'm Julie...
The first time I came to Provence was on vacation, to take a two-week photography workshop. I think it was on Day #3, after the jet lag had started to ease, that I realized two weeks wasn't going to be anywhere near enough. I returned again, about a year later, and that's when reality hit: my marriage to New York was pretty much over and my love affair with Provence was in full bloom. I never really moved to France...I just came here for a while and stayed. And somewhere along the way, the escapade became real life.
Provence was the smartest stupid thing I've ever done.
But let's go back. Born and raised in Milwaukee, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I've always been a passionate traveler. With a degree in journalism, I got a job straight out of college with a restaurant magazine in Chicago. Five years later, I moved to New York to help launch Food Arts magazine with Michael and Ariane Batterberry, who had founded Food & Wine Magazine and later sold it to American Express. Our little start up, launched in Michael and Ariane's antique-filled living room on Madison Avenue, was acquired by M. Shanken Communications the following year; you may know Shanken as the publisher of Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado, among other titles. I was the executive editor of Food Arts for ten years and it was a fantastic job that allowed me to work with some of the best chefs and food writers in the world. It also allowed me lots of travel, worldwide. (One of my colleagues who remains a dear friend had a standard reply whenever asked to go somewhere: Well, it's not Paris but...)
And then I took that first trip to Provence, that two-week vacation that led me to fall crazy in love with the region, and New York never looked the same. I remember lying on my couch in my Upper West Side apartment one day, chatting with my mom on the phone. "What would happen," I asked, "if I quit my job, sublet my apartment and just went to France for a while?" And bless her heart, she replied: "Only good things, I'd imagine!" Not: Where will you live? How will you support yourself? You don't speak French! and the rest of it. (Thank you, mom, for not being that kind of mom!)
So in 1998 I quit my job and rented myself a little stone house in St. Remy, thinking I'd stay three months and get it out of my system, then go back to real life...whatever that meant. Well as those things tend to go, three months became six and so on. Before I knew it, a year had passed and I had built a successful freelance career, writing for Food Arts and many other publications including NYTimes.com, New York Magazine, Financial Times, USA Today, Gourmet, Saveur, Conde Nast Traveller UK, Travel + Leisure Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Epicurious.com, Elle Decor UK, House Beautiful and others.
I launched my blog ProvencePost.com in 2008, to celebrate everything special about the South of France. Today it's read regularly by thousands of Francophiles worldwide, whether they live here, travel here for pleasure or business or are still just dreaming of "some day." On Provence Post you'll find a little bit of everything: food, restaurants, cooking, wine, photography, art, design, architecture, decor, gardens, books, inviting places, interesting people, fantastic experiences and more. Plus, all sorts of handy resources such as pages devoted to the best local events, an annually updated list of all the Michelin-starred restaurants in Provence, listings of local markets, tourist offices and more. I'd love to have you as subscriber; it's free and easy to sign up here.
My first book, co-authored with Lee Schrager, was published in late 2010 by Random House/Clarkson Potter (New York). It's called The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook and I was thrilled that Lee--the founder and director of two of the largest food festivals in the world--chose me to write it for him. It was great fun working with 75 of the top chefs in the world, all of whom were generous enough to share their recipes, stories, secrets and more. Not so surprisingly, many of the chefs in the book are French...or have been heavily influenced by French cuisine. If you're curious what that experience was like, read about it here and here.
Which brings us to...the reason you're here. After many years of helping friends and readers plan their trips to Provence, I decided to make it official in 2011 and hung out my ''travel planner'' shingle. I spent a good year running all over Provence, revisiting as many villages, historic sites, party venues, hotels and restaurants as I could...and met with a zillion tour guides, chefs, cooking teachers, winemakers, hoteliers, villa owners, drivers and other tourism pros to find the very best ones to work with. I asked questions, read up, went to industry events and did everything I could to quickly learn how to be the best travel advisor possible.
Since then, my company Provence Post Travel has helped scores of individuals, couples, families and groups arrange amazing vacations here in the South of France. I've created school trips, wedding trips, painting vacations, culinary vacations, bike trips...you name it. Plus, I regularly help other travel professionals (travel advisors and agents, tour operators, villa-rental companies, etc.) create stellar experiences for their own clients. I didn't invent the phrase "whatever, whenever" but I like it and it fits!
On the pages of this website you'll see I can help with lodging and villa rentals; booking a wide range of delicious tours, activities and experiences; full planning of weekends, week-long trips and more; transportation hither and yon...and any thing else you need to make your Provence travel dreams come true. So take a peek at my client comments please and let's get started! On y va! I'd love to hear from you.