Discovering Provence as Retired Expat
Journalist/Writer Anne-Marie Simons and her husband Oscar (retired international banker) have lived and worked in the US and Europe. They could have chosen anywhere to retire but decided on sunny Aix-en-Provence. Anne-Marie says, “Our choice of Aix-en-Provence was a bit of a stab in the dark but has worked out very well for us.” Follow this link to read more about their expat story.
We asked Anne-Marie if she would share their “Perfectly Provence” with readers and she agreed.
For culture vultures:
I recommend the Roman antiquities in Arles, Nimes, St. Remy de Provence, the Pont du Gard or the three Cistercian abbeys. Barefoot Blogger agrees here are her thoughts on Provencal history.
For pleasure seekers:
The Côte d’Azur and St. Tropez.
The villages in the Luberon made famous by Peter Mayle (Lourmarin, Ménerbes, Bonnieux, and Lacoste). Read more about touring the Luberon by Philippe Gonient here.
For nature lovers:
There is the Camargue, a unique natural reservation with wild horses, flamingos, cattle ranches for raising fighting bulls, salt flats, miles of biking trails and deserted beaches.
Visit Marseilles the city with an undeservedly bad reputation. You can read the chapter on Marseilles in Anne-Marie’s book Taking Root in Provence.
Since 2013, when Marseilles was the Cultural Capital of Europe, a number of new attractions were added to an already attractive place that make a visit a must. The new MUCEM museum built in the Vieux Port, which allows stunning views from its rooftop terrace and a passerelle connection to the beautifully restored Fort St. Jean across the road. Read more about Marseille’s new look here.
The locally produced cheese (goat or sheep), especially the unpasteurized ones that are unavailable in the US. Buy at the market or at a cheesemonger who can advise and let you taste.
An authentic bouillabaisse from Marseilles. Read about the bouillabaisse charter here.
Daube Provençal, a slowly cooked beef stew – there are recipes in her book Taking Root in Provence.
Try a Moroccan méchoui, the slow-roasted whole lamb so tasty and tender after hours over hot coals or on a spit. The photo below was provided by Anne-Marie.
For those who already know Provence and do not like to move around a lot, I would recommend renting a house and living as the locals do, i.e. at a slow pace. Go to the local market and buy your fresh food every day; eat it outdoors accompanied by some cold rosé wine, then take a siesta. In late afternoon, wander to the village or the town center, go sit on a terrace and order a pastis with water. On your way home, pick up a fresh warm baguette and think about dinner (the French are always thinking about food). Stop and watch a game of boules (every town or village has a boulodrome where the locals play). After dinner, relax or go and attend some local folkloric event. You said relax, right?