All content created by & © Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg
I travel a lot. Typically, I feel very safe. I find that most people around the world all want the same things: peace, love, freedom. I’ve traveled so much and so far now I’m good at keeping anxieties down, especially irrational ones.
That was until a recent flight back from Sweden.
There were two gentlemen boarding the plane acting very strangely and it struck me… what if they wanted to hurt the people on board. After a mild panic attack and contemplating being that girl who throws a big fuss and wants off the plane, I realized something important. The first thing that came into my head after I thought “Damn it, I’m on a plane with terrorists!” was “…and now I’ll never know what it was like to live in France.” So I made myself a promise. I said, if this is not a terrorist attack, I would live out one of my dream and spend some real time in this country I have been lusting over my entire life. Being that I’m writing this there was no ill-fated plan to bring down my plane.
And here I sit in France.
Now of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Making the decision and then obtaining a French visa were two very different things. I have never in my life gone through a more frustrating, confusing process. I didn’t give up, though there were some tears. I learned the first valuable lesson in French living- French Bureaucracy is difficult.
So what am I doing here? First, I’m living. I’m watching the sunsets. I’m picking grapes and eating them. I’m buying a warm baguette at the patisserie every morning and counting the hours by the sound of the bell tolls in town rather than on my iPhone. I wake up with the sunlight, not an alarm clock. I buy the local wine. I marvel to myself how different a lemon smells here freshly sliced and how did I not know the beautiful perfume of fresh cracked pepper before? I pet every dog in sight. I visit the markets and make notes on the minute details and differences. I’m trying new styles from my black New York uniform. I’m SLOWLY learning French. I’m taking my camera out and pointing her at this stunning place, capturing what mesmerizes me about this organic way of life.
To be honest, I needed a refresh from New York. I needed to do something new and different. Stimulate my brain in a different way. I talk about the fragility of creativity and I needed to give mine a rest. I wanted to give her the opportunity to explore new visions and new forms of idea and expression. I know what living in New York means. I wanted to know that aspect of France as well. As I have been taking the time to be present I’m already beginning to have new vision, still lives I want to create around the Provencal table. A place where things come in and out of your life with the passing seasons. A vision of women I want to capture that celebrates their natural beauty on film, un-retouched in a world of manipulation. I feel that excitement toward photography I had when I first started out at 13. When holding a camera in your hands wasn’t a job. It was an adventure. What can you capture, and what can you create…
I think everyone would assume I would have chosen Paris. I love Paris more than any other city in the world. She is my dream. But I didn’t want to just change from fancy New York parties to fancy French parties, the same kind of people, the same kind of work, and the same kind of pace to life. I wanted to really be in a different place, experience another world. I am in the south, in a very small town in Provence, a part of the Luberon. It’s quaint and it’s quiet and though small, it is somehow opening my heart and mind to a whole other world of endless ideas.
It’s not forever, but it is for now and now is right where I want to be.
Above, working from a hilltop coffee shop in the little charming town of Bonnieux.
More Provence stories here.
Up, up and away we go around the world. Here I am in Paris, a city of never-ending inspiration for me. The past month I have been to Bali, Maine, New York, Germany, Reims, Provence and my favorite city on earth ‘bien sur’, Paris.
There is something about her perfect corridors and boulevards that simply takes my eyes down an endless journey of dreams. There are so many reasons why I love Paris, but mostly it is because she can leave you feeling enchanted, eyes wide open, like watching a beautiful ballerina floating weightless, as if being held up by the dancing musical notes projected from the orchestra below.
In my memories of Paris she remains this white coral shell, precious and valuable and under the full moonlight, absolutely glowing. I stood on the balcony of my Four Seasons Hotel George V suite, jetlagged from my marionetting around the world, and watched her there, quiet and asleep, and completely translucent from the night’s light. It is a gift of travel at times to deliver an altered view of life, be it warped time or foggy daydreams, that puts you in a place you might not have ever been mentally or physically and all the sudden, you see the world in a way that is neither familiar nor dishonest. You see the truth in the beauty of where your body rests at that moment, a clearer present, observing through a mirror that which will again disappear with time. When the lost hours of airplane travel caught up to me, I drifted to sleep wrapped in a French dream of crown modelings, baby blue brush strokes of color and ornately draped curtains whose edges giggled with a can-can line of tassels.
I can’t even remember arriving to Paris that day, having travelled for 24 hours. Did a driver pick me up or did I Uber? I don’t know. The first thing I do recall however, was walking into the lobby of the George V and being hit like a tidal wave of beauty with a wall of flowers exploding in crimson and purple, unforgiving and spellbinding. I gasped, my eyes awake for the first time in hours as I took off my sunglasses and did a full 360 degree turn absolutely breathless at the beauty of this hotel lobby. There are not a lot of hotels that are beautiful enough to distract you from the alluring fact that Paris herself is waiting. This is one of the exceptions. Like only a handful of other Parisian hotels, she is so ingrained in the history and culture of this city that being here feels just the same as being outside. As decadently rich as French culture.
Built in 1928, the Four Seasons Hotel George V is positioned in one of the most luxurious blocks of Paris. A stone’s throw from the Champs-Élysées and the Effiel Tower, her location in the world is among the most prestigious. I felt like royalty swanning around her private balconies with the setting sun. Dining in her restaurants, the modern and feminine L’Orangerie, the elegant and traditional three Michelin starred Le Cinq with the most unforgettable “deconstructed French onion soup” paired with Madeira wine that imprinted my tastebuds so impactfully that I have literally dreamed about it since.
A moment ago I found myself in the glamorous world of the Four Seaons Grand-
Standing elegantly off a cliff overlooking the endless Indian Ocean is the amazing Bulgari Resort Bali. It is a luxury resort balancing the natural elements and Balinese traditions with the sophistication of the Italian design house complete with an Italian restaurant so wonderful it was awarded ‘Best Hotel Restaurant in the World’ by International Food & Beverage Forum.
An amazing juxtaposition of private villas and sprawling mansions sound like a mega resort but that it is certainly not. It maintains a personal sense of privacy, and most importantly for me, peace all while making nature the greatest design element of all. The natural tones and traditional building elements sit the resort comfortably into the lush green and dramatic rocky cliff location.
I started each morning jetlagged at 5am, watching the colors of the sunrise fill the sky. Always first to breakfast, I would sit and have a traditional Balinese soup of chicken broth and noodles with mixed vegetables (and A LOT of spice) to the distant sound of the ocean crashing below. Lunches down by the beach consisted of fresh squeezed juices and light fish while the afternoons were perfectly filled with dips in our private pool before a 4pm walk around the property looking for the resident monkeys to see what trouble they were getting into.
This is my second time visiting Bali. What draws one here mostly, in my opinion, is the culture. The peacefulness of the people and the spirit of the ones who have moved here to be closer to it. Yoga, organic juices, and nature are the commodities of Bali, and are served up here at Bulgari in this beautiful setting. On my first visit to Bali I explored all over the island from hiking to the the top of a volcano to shooting on the black sand beaches and sleeping in a structure made of entirely bamboo. Though on this trip we did venture out to Ubud, mostly I just wanted to stay here at the resort. The beauty and calm is what my soul needed.
So here is to another amazing experience on this little island on the Indian Ocean…