Articles

Indagare’s Marley Blandori on Her Provence Musts

Indagare’s Customer Experience Manager Marley Blandori previously lived in Le Beausset, a small village on the Côte d’Azur, and was just married in Cassis. Read on for her recommendations in the region.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized journey to the South of France.

How long have you lived in or been visiting the South of France?

I’ve been visiting the South of France since I was born. I spent the first 13 years of my life splitting my time between the South of France and Northern California, because my dad is in the wine business. We lived in Le Beausset, a small village on the Côte d’Azur, about an hour east of Marseille. I attended a French-American school in Berkeley, and my teachers were delighted by the opportunity for me to be immersed in French culture and language six months out of every year, but by the time that high school started, it was no longer possible to split up the school year in the same way, so my family spent our summers in Provence and the rest of the year in California. I’ve now been living in New York for more than 10 years, but I still make it back to the South of France at least once a year, and I just got married there, in the town of Cassis.

How would you describe yourself professionally?

I am thrilled to be part of the Indagare Bookings Team as our Customer Experience Manager. I joined the company more than five years ago and started my career here designing trips for our members — everything from safaris in Tanzania to mother-daughter trips to Morocco and, of course, road trips through the South of France. I have been lucky to scout some incredible destinations on behalf of the company, with my most memorable trip to date being a ten-day odyssey throughout Northern India. In the last year and a half, I moved into a managerial role, where I am no longer directly involved in trip planning process and instead focus on the on-boarding and development of our newest hires within the Bookings department. 

What is your favorite aspect of spending time in the South of France?

For me, it’s all about spending time outdoors and with family when I am in Le Beausset. I love playing tennis surrounded by vineyards, picking green beans and zucchini in my family’s vegetable garden, reading novels by the pool and sipping nightly apéritifs on the terrace with my loved ones.

Do you have a favorite activity or neighborhood that you suggest to visitors?

Getting out on a boat for the day to explore the beautiful calanques to the west of Cassis is a must. These stunning limestone cliffs are home to one gorgeous natural cove after the other. Some of these coves are completely unspoiled, with some of the most stunning scenery Europe has to offer, while others are home to tiny seasonal villages only accessible by boat. Even in the height of summer, the water is always refreshing and the most beautiful cerulean blue — the best for swimming!

Also, I strongly recommend a day trip to Porquerolles, easily accessible from the seaside town of Hyères by ferry or water taxi. The island offers a pristine Provençal landscape of vineyards, white-sand beaches and pine forests gently echoing with chirping cicadas, all ringed by the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Cars are not allowed on Porquerolles, and you can rent bikes right at the port when you step off the boat. From there, spend the day cycling around the island: You’ll find gorgeous sandy beaches on the northern coastline and dramatic cliffs on the south. Also worth visiting is the Fort du Langoustier, a stone fortress that dates back to the 17th century, and the island’s newest addition, Fondation Carmignac. This contemporary art center opened in 2018 in the heart of the government-protected National Park and features a sculpture garden landscaped by Louis Benech, a wine-tasting lounge and a 20,000-square-foot exhibition space housing pieces by the likes of Basquiat, de Kooning and Warhol.

What is your favorite way to spend a day in the South of France?

My family loves starting the day off with tennis, always on the early side since it gets so hot during the summer. From there, we usually head straight to the market in the picturesque town of Sanary-sur-Mer for ultra-fresh swordfish, Corsican charcuterie and local produce. When we get back home, it’s time for a leisurely lunch and an important French rite — the afternoon nap. We might spend the afternoon by the pool and then have some friends over for an apéritif of regional rosé, followed by an alfresco dinner.

Do you have a favorite restaurant, shop or hotel?

Although its aesthetic is not particularly Provençal, I love the contemporary design of Villa La Coste, as well as Francis Mallmann’s restaurant which is located on-site. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, I recommend that anyone visiting Provence go eat there and explore the open-air art museum, which is just spectacular both for its collection of art as well as the surrounding scenery. While I rarely go out to eat when I am in the South of France, I’ll never miss a meal at La Mercerie in Marseille, which is run by my friends Harry Cummins (an English chef) and Laura Vidal (a Canadian sommelier).

What should every visitor do on a trip to the South of France?

While it’s great to have a structured itinerary—and there are certainly some sights to see—I think it’s important to make time to really take in the Provençal lifestyle, which is all about unhurried meals of simple, delicious food and wine enjoyed en plein air with family and friends.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized journey to the South of France.

– Marley Blandori on August 15, 2019

Column

Quotable

It’s important to make time to really take in the Provençal lifestyle, which is all about unhurried meals of simple, delicious food and wine enjoyed en plein air with family and friends.

Become an Indagare Member Today!

Join Indagare sign in