2022 Photo Contest

It was so wonderful to return to Europe with groups in the fall of 2021! We had fun re-living these special places and experiences through our photo contest, and we hope you’ll enjoy some “armchair traveling” through these photos too.

This year’s photo contest was open to everyone who participated in our four trips in September and October 2021: The Luberon Experience in Provence, France and The Puglia Experience in southern Italy.The rules were the same as previous years. Each traveler could enter one or two photos that best represented their personal experience during their trip; they were also asked to provide a few sentences about their photo and why the experience was meaningful to them.

Our daughter Kelly Wood managed the contest again this year, and the two of us (Kathy and Charley) were the judges. We judged “blind” and didn’t know who submitted any of the photos.

We appreciate every one of these photos! Some are outstanding from a technical standpoint, and so many of the descriptions are thoughtful and inspiring. Most importantly, every photo and its description represents a unique memory from the traveler’s experience. Because of this, it was extremely difficult to choose only seven photos for special recognition. We appreciate the time everyone took to participate in the contest and share their memories, and we’ll be sending them all a special gift.

As always, a wide variety of photos were submitted, representing many different aspects of our European Experiences trips: breathtaking scenery, small details, unique experiences, memorable moments, delicious food, fellow travelers, and much more. The two of us worked together to compare our thoughts and make our final choices.

We’re highlighting seven photographs that reflect the broad scope of a European Experiences trip, considering first the photo and then also the description. We included a mix of photos from both Provence and Puglia. Under our contest rules, we could recognize only one photo from each person, which required a few adjustments in our choices.

And The Winners Are…

Congratulations to Michell Smith of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, our 2022 grand prize winner!

One of the highlights for everyone in our Puglia Experience groups was our visit to the beautiful and remote Masseria Le Stanzie and the farm-to-table lunch we enjoyed at this historic place. We had seven different photos submitted from this experience!

We especially liked the detail included in Michell’s photo, as well as her narrative about this unique and memorable experience.

The Puglia Experience was Michell’s third trip with European Experiences, and she and husband Bobby joined us for our first-ever trip there. Michell and Bobby also joined us for The Luberon Experience in 2015 and The European Christmas Experience in 2017.

We’re delighted to award Michell our grand prize: a $500 credit on a future European Experience trip. We look forward to having Michell and Bobby join us for another trip soon.

We also selected a runner-up, who will receive a $250 credit on a future Experience trip. Congratulations to Erik Illi of Kalispell, Montana, for his photo of the main street of Bonnieux on a beautiful day. Our Luberon Experience groups enjoy this setting in Bonnieux for our week together. This was Eric’s first European Experience trip, a trip he had wanted to make for a long time.

Five other photographs were selected for special recognition in this year’s contest. These travelers each won a $50 Amazon gift certificate (or a $50 credit on a 2022 or 2023 trip). See all seven winning photos below, along with what each traveler had to say about the experience represented in their photo. The “Special Recognition” winners are listed in alphabetic order by first name.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this year’s contest! Special thanks also go to Kelly Wood for her excellent support for this year’s contest.

Grand Prize Winner

The Puglia Experience (October 2021) at Masseria Le Stanzie

Michell from Louisiana, USA

European Experiences photo contest - grand prize winner - in Puglia

We visited this multi-generational working farm on a beautiful fall day. Every nook and cranny of this magical place held a feast for our eyes. This photo shows the bounty of the harvest, fall tomatoes and peppers and herbs, all being dried to be used throughout the dormant winter season. You can also see the racks of tobacco leaves that have been hung to dry as a nod to the past history of this ongoing successful family enterprise.


The Luberon Experience (September 2021) in Bonnieux

Erik from Montana, USA

European Experiences photo contest - special recognition - in Bonnieux

What makes the villages of the Luberon so charming are the lush plants, colorful accents and wrought iron details that adorn the interesting architecture. They transform potentially cold stone structures into inviting homes, hotels and shops that you do not tire of seeing day after day.

Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience (September 2021) at the Carrières de Lumières

Charlie from Louisiana, USA

Carrieres de Lumieres

A peek at the light show in an abandoned quarry. This program featured the work of Paul Cezanne. The projections kept changing as you walked through the immense cave. Different!!

Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience (September 2021) in Lacoste

Doug from Washington, USA

View from Lacoste

I liked this setting in the village of Lacoste, taken from the terrace of one of the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) buildings there. The contrast of the angular contemporary sculpture with the ancient stonework, both in the wall of the museum and the buildings of Bonnieux in the distance, makes this an interesting thought piece. Both France, but old and new.

Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience (September 2021) in Roussillon

Helen from Illinois, USA

shop in Roussillon

The store name (Carpe Diem) says it all: about those of us who travelled in 2021 and the colorful experiences we shared every day!

Special Recognition

The Puglia Experience (September 2021) in Polignano a Mare

Patti from Tennessee, USA

Polignano a Mare

This is a photo of one of the breathtaking cliffs and Cola Porto Beach in the beautiful Adriatic seaside town of Polignano a Mare. For me this town captures the rich and long history of this area of Italy. The influence of other cultures and countries throughout centuries can be seen everywhere you turn in the architecture and in the old town streets. It was my most immersive visit of this trip.

Special Recognition

The Puglia Experience (October 2021) in Grottaglie

Sarah from Missouri, USA


One of the many highlights of the Puglia trip was a visit to Grottaglie, known as a “Città della Ceramica.” Some historians believe ceramics have been produced here for more than 1,000 years. The rooster, a symbol of the region, appears in many of the ceramic pieces. A wall of ceramic tiles on the Via Crispi highlights the many different rooster designs that the more than 80 artisan workshops of Grottaglie have depicted in their work.