Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Striped Basque – Espadrille Hunting in France

Shopping, Travel Tips


Artiga Linens

Artiga Linens

With the fever for the woven-bottomed shoe at an all time high, I couldn’t help but do a little Espadrille canvassing (pun intended) of my own when visiting France’s Basque region a few weeks ago. Derived from the Catalan name for the shoes, espardenya, the espadrille has been made on the French side of the border since the 14th century. Although many of the better known shops export globally (Pare Gabia, for example), I was intent on finding a boutique with a signature Basque flair, ensuring my shoes would meet stares of envy along with distinct ‘foreign-flair’.

What I found was the charming, colorful boutique, unlike many manufacturers that have taken their production abroad, Artiga still fabricates everything in southwest France, earning it the distinguishing Origine France Garantie label. Age-old Basque materials like pure cotton and a sturdy linen-cotton blend are now employed in everything from colorful striped table linens, deck chairs, and sun hats, tote bags and change purses.

But when it comes to the espadrille, ask and ye shall receive. Artiga makes three different types: the traditional peasant-shoe style, a newer ballerina flat with a shorter top cut as well as a heeled wedge. For the classic, I recommend the Castilian espadrilles, so patriotic in red, blue and white. For the modern lass, the ballerina cut has a more feminine feel not to mention a more flattering shape on the food while summery Menditte fabric is guaranteed to garner an envious second glance. When you want great design service, visit

Artiga Maison, St. Jean de Luz, 13 rue Garat, 64500, St. Jean de Luz

Posted in: Shopping, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, May 11, 2012 No Comments

Cote d’Azur

Travel Tips


May 12, 2011

Not in France but wish I was

I was supposed to be in the South of France this week. Namely, Sant Tropez. Alas, circumstances and responsibilities led me to cancel the trip. C’est la vie, indeed.  Luckily I still have the internet and glorious imagery to transport me, somewhat.  As you can imagine, my profession requires me to scout hotels online often and thus leads to some pretty heavy daydreaming.

Here’s my current hotel fantasy, La Reserve Ramatuelle Hotel & Spa, which is inspired by my missed trip and hopeful plans to visit France in July. Apparently the hotel also has villas, which makes me even more obsessed…

La Reserve Ramatuelle Hotel & Spa

La Reserve Ramatuelle Hotel & Spa

La Reserve Ramatuelle Entry

La Reserve Ramatuelle's alluring architecture

Posted in: Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Thursday, May 12, 2011 No Comments

Clinch-Hill Workshops

Food + Wine, Travel Tips


June 23, 2010

Gascony, France

If Photography and eating well are two of your passions – and let’s face it, whose aren’t they? – then look no further for your next educational, vacation idea than the Natural Food & Photography workshops offered by Clinch-Hill in bucolic Camont, France.


Internationally renowned photographer Tim Clinch (and the esteemed photographer for my third book, the upcoming, England’s Hideaways – Spring 2011) and writer, cook and food stylist Kate Hill have banded together, having already collaborated on a book on Spain, to create CLINCH-HILL, a photography and food styling school offering intimate workshops on how to get, “the most out of what is in front of your camera”.

Yum! Of course the photo is brilliant, as well!

Yum! Of course the photo is brilliant, as well!

Whether you are an aspiring food stylist or photographer, a foodie blogger or simply interested in bettering your photography skills while learning to cook and eating well in the heavenly scenery of Southern France (by that, I mean anyone!), the friendly tutelage offered by Tim and Kate at Clinch-Hill, not to mention the consistent, decadent meals, makes the concept of a learning holiday all-the-more appealing. Think of it as a simultaneous investment in your own skill-set and personal enjoyment!

How can you resist learning from people who nuzzle piglets?

How can you resist learning from people who nuzzle piglets?

Using only natural light, the Natural Light & Natural Food Workshop is a collaborative project in which Tim and Kate each share their well-honed approach to natural cooking, food styling and online poker business photography in 5-day and weekend workshop at Kate Hill’s Gascon Kitchen in her 17th century farmhouse in Camont, France (pictured below).

The 17th century farmhouse and guest rooms

The 17th century farmhouse and guest rooms

Focusing on the traditional and local cuisine of Gascony, the lessons will ensure you learn how to cook natural, fresh food and then photograph it beautifully, and naturally. Daily classes are quite comprehensive and cover everything from the basics to professional-grade information, such as the natural approach to food photography without artificial lights, natural French cooking and styling with both raw and cooked food, and how to behave on a photo shoot for a major publication, build your own portfolio content and create story development for future pitches. All camera work is digital and students will review and post their photographs daily to a dedicated online gallery. Cooking is done with only local ingredients (of which there are plenty!) while students work with their own cameras, no matter how basic. An external hard drive, computer and basic materials for classes (food, etc) are provided. Classes are 7 hours per day beginning at 9 and ending at 6 pm (including a 2 hour break for an elaborate, French lunch).

For more information please click on the links above for the website or email Tim and Kate at  Having yet to go myself, though knowing Tim quite well, all I can say, is I can’t wait to go with my husband (an ardent photographer) as soon as possible!

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Posted in: Food + Wine, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Wednesday, June 23, 2010 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.