I am not an expert on Provence, France, but I have studied, researched, and created two wonderful 2007 and 2008 spring itineraries that my husband, John, and I followed to experience the heart and soul of Provence. There is something so magical about Provence, it reaches to my very core. I snapped the above photo, roadside on an early Sunday morning, heading to the famous and fabulous L'lsle-sur-la-Sorgue antique market.
It is hard to pinpoint why Provence is so special. Is it the light that Van Gough would talk about and try and capture in his paintings? Is it the Roman influence of ancient engineering masterpieces, roads, and villages that survive to tell their story? Is it the legendary "mistral wind" that bellows through the famous Cote du Rhone valley? Is it the unspoiled rural countryside beauty? Is it the absolutely charming people full of rich tradition and culture? Is it the incredibly fresh and mouth-watering seasonal foods and time-proven wines? Is it the fact that you never know who you will run into at a cafe, or bump elbows with at an outdoor market? Ah, you will just have to go sometime and ponder these questions yourself. If you have been to Provence, and have some wonderful stories, please share.
Writing about a few things that makes Provence so magical a place is difficult. I could jot down a long detailed list, but prefer instead to share with you a few snapshots, that those fortunate to call Provence their home experience on a regular basis, if not daily.
Generally, my itineraries are "off the tourist beaten path", preferring to visit the lesser known special places, such as Edith Mezard's tiny linen and embroidery shop in Lumieres, the Abbaye St. Andre gardens across the river from the popular city, Avignon, or the little cheese shop, Lou Canesteou, in Vaison-la-Romaine, to name a few. Rick Steves' Provence and The French Riviera 2009 is a good guidebook for general information, tips, and proven itineraries for those wanting a starting point.
Some of my favorite books written about Provence, were the catalyst to visit this special part of France, and experience it first hand. If you can't get to Provence in the near future, perhaps you would like to begin by reading some of these wonderful books. For more information on these books, just "click" on their titles. A Good Year. A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France. A Year in Provence. Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France.
Please follow along with me for more snapshots of Provence.