I met Amanda Taylor-Ace well over 20 years ago and was struck by her energy, enthusiasm for life and ability to see everything in a positive light. A visit to her gorgeous maison in the charming town of Saint Maximin, (about 38ks out of Avignon) with my Italian nephew and partner was followed by a much longer visit a year later. It was hard to leave. I seriously considered packing up the family and joining her there for life.
Amanda, who is half French AND partied with the Beatles when they came to New Zealand on their first tour way back when, has now restored 2 fabulous 18th century stone villas in Saint Maximin. Nestled in the hillside, they share a walled garden covered with vines, outdoor terraces and swimming pool. And does Amanda know how to put on a party? She’ll herd you off to the nearby fabulous Uzes market where you’ll fill market baskets with olives and bread, ripe cheeses and wines, quail and artichokes or whatever is in season, and head home, no doubt via a vineyard or two, to while away the day and evening while your personal chef cooks up a delicious Provencal feast. No, the personal chef is not me! You’ll be in the hands of Theo Michaels (semi-finalist of BBC’s Master Chef 2014). All you have to try and do is not fall in the pool, unless you want to that is. You’ll be serenaded by local musicians, eat and drink way more that you thought possible and laugh until your sides hurt. A stay with Amanda is the best medicine ever.
Amanda, a former restaurateur and author of My French Affair (published by Penguin Books) rents the villas and she also runs occasional small tours (7-10 people), with just a few spaces left on what might be her final soirée. Dates: Friday 15thMay to Thursday 21st May. Both villas are also for sale. Details here (and you’ll even see a pic of a young Amanda at a private party cuddled up with George and Ringo!). Yep, she’s got a bag of fun stories and will keep you entertained for hours.