Autumn is Lovely in Provence
Fall in Provence can be strange and wonderful. We seemed to skip right from summer to autumn in a day, then thankfully recovered a little bit since the beginning of October. On the other hand, I always get rather down when the temperatures dip and the days become shorter; this year has been no different.
As the days disappear and I have fewer left, I usually end up fairly occupied visiting friends and trying to get as many beautiful rides as possible before I leave. It’s a rollercoaster of intense emotions, from gratitude to aching sadness, to malaise to utter joy. It’s always like this, yet it always surprises me. Thankfully after a rather chilly end to September, we had a glorious first week of October with beautiful blue skies, sunshine and summer-ish temperatures.
Autumn in Provence
Fall weather in Provence typically means heartier recipes. Enjoy meat (lamb, wild boar, taureaux, rabbit, fowl) roasted with herbes de Provence, root vegetables and delicious red wine blends from AOC Ventoux. At this time of year, hiking is fabulous, biking is still possible, and golfers might get lucky with an extended season. Best of all, for many people living in or visiting Provence, the autumn months move at a slightly more relaxed pace. The summer hordes have left replaced by smaller groups of visitors. In the fall, there is no guilt involved in lighting a fire, curling up with a book, or perhaps taking a une sieste.
While there is no Thanksgiving holiday in France like in the United States and Canada, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate specific harvests – wine, olives, mushrooms, squash and much more.
The Colors of Fall in Provence
One September morning in Provence, you wake up to notice a difference. Something is missing. The chirping choir of the cicadas has stopped, and in their place, the abrupt sound of hunter’s dogs barking followed by gunshots. A slight dampness in the air makes its presence known when you walk. Despite a chilly start, it is possible to be in shirtsleeves by lunchtime. The annual grape harvest may occur in September, depending on Mother Nature’s whim.
October often rolls in like a lamb with a gentle touch. There is a soft pink hue, “painter’s light” in the evenings and mysterious foggy mornings. The smell of bonfires in agricultural zones scents the air, and the olives begin turning a deep shade of purple-black. Eye-catching red, orange and yellow berries of Pyracantha bushes (Firethorns) along the roadsides replace the fields of lavender and sunflowers. The Plane trees begin dropping their big, noisy brown leaves.
November is crisp like a freshly minted bill. The sunny skies remain a brilliant blue but leaving the house without an extra layer of clothing would be folly. The Mistral wind, which might be mild in the summer months, blows in an Artic chill from the NW, increasing in its forceful gusts as it rolls down the Rhône River. The grapes have been harvested and crushed. The winemakers watch the fermenting juice as the vines turn to gold and red in their fields.