Is Provence Calling To You?
Author and possibilitarian Patricia Sands never ceases to amaze me. She is on the cusp of publishing the third book in her “Love In Provence” series
I Promise You This ~ is available May 17th. Here, is a little temptation to order your copy.
“With sunlit backdrops and plot twists as breathtaking as the beaches of the Côte d’Azur, author Patricia Sands brings her trilogy about second chances to a provocative and satisfying close that proves a new life just might be possible—if you’re willing to let your heart lead you home.”
Sometime between the gazillion tasks related to editing, publishing, promoting and social media lovely Patricia found a spare moment (it may have been at 2 am) to write an article for Perfectly Provence.
Ah, ma belle Provence. I’m counting the days until my husband and I are driving or cycling those meandering roads in June. With my trusty camera in hand, there will be countless stops to capture irresistible images of the pastoral landscapes or iconic villages perched on rocky outcroppings. I can never get enough of the scenery. Do you feel the same?
In no particular order, here’s how we’ll be spending some of our time.
- Carrières de Lumières ~ It’s pure magic, isn’t it? This will be our fourth visit. I will never forget the surprise of the first time, but every exhibit has been spectacular.
This year the show features the work of Marc Chagall. Having spent hours in the delightful Musée Chagall in Nice, I’m eager to see those masterpieces displayed on the towering walls. I’m excited, too, about the Lewis Carroll homage in between shows.
Knowing how crowded the roads will be in that area, we’re planning the visit carefully.
With several options for lunch in the area or nearby St. Remy, making a choice will be the biggest challenge!
- A day in marvellous Roussillon will begin with a walk along the Sentiers des Ocres/ Ochre Trail. My husband hasn’t taken this before and is looking forward to it. At less than one hour, it’s a lovely way to begin a day in this colourful area. “Provence Colorado”, some call it … and no wonder. We’ll take a spare pair of shoes for that stroll, as they will be covered in yellow, red and orange dust by the time we finish.
After that, we’ll wander the narrow streets and lively squares, awash with the shades of the natural ochre pigments. My camera shutter will be steaming! A visit to the art-filled studio of Françoise Valenti is a tradition, after calling in advance to make certain we go on a day it is open.
A light lunch in the main square by the Mairie suits us just fine!
- What would Wednesday be without filling up our wicker panier at the bustling market in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence? Thank goodness for the leather shoulder straps on my basket! The variety of products and artful displays always make lingering a pleasure. If I close my eyes I can already hear the animated vendors chatting and laughing with customers and each other.
We’ll sip a glass of rosé, under the shade of the plain trees in the square in front of the Mairie. The next decision will be where to stop for our picnic on the way home.
- We love biking quiet roads or paths as the smells and sounds of the countryside envelop us. This year we’ll only ride for short periods and tackle nothing more challenging than gentle hills. My husband’s back problems prevent longer cycling journeys at the moment. He may even try an electric bike.
We could do la Route des Crètes, a 28km round trip cycle path through cedar forests on a paved road with little traffic. The ‘Luberon à l’Infini’ is a slightly longer 50km loop through Oppede, Menerbes and Lacoste before finishing at Bonnieux. I’m afraid we’ll give that a miss this year, but I do recommend it.
There are many good websites, such as this one, that provide detailed information about cycling in Provence. Local tourist offices have maps, brochures and advice, so there’s no shortage of information.
Our timing this year will allow us to take in some of the fragrance-filled lavender field areas of Vaucluse. Mid-June to the first week or so of August, is the time for this. Distracted drivers will be the biggest obstacle!
The rest of the year this area is the answer to a biker’s dream: one of the best places to peacefully pedal in rural beauty and tranquility.
- At least once, dinner at Bistrot du Paradou is a must. Just the sight of this unassuming, blue-shuttered, traditional farmhouse causes me to salivate. Reservations are absolutely necessary and, usually, should be made well in advance. The delicious, authentic local cooking and warm, friendly service here have become legendary.
Rustic stone walls, covered with black and white photos going back decades, a beamed ceiling and marble-topped tables add to the ambiance. Locals and visiting foodies mix easily at intimate tables or the long wooden bar. A lively bonhomie fills the room and carries through to the spacious outdoor terrace when the weather is right.
We’ll call to see what is being served each day or drive by and check the list on the door. There is only one main course and it could be lamb, chicken, veal, rabbit, or cassoulet, to mention just a few. Friday is always the grand aioli. The desserts are all melt-in-your-mouth classics and the massive cheese platter is breathtaking. Seriously. It’s all that good. And the house wine is included. Formidable.
It can’t come too soon!
So that’s us.
What’s your pleasure when you plan a stay in Provence?
Bistrot de Paradou 57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux, 13520 Paradou, France Tel:+33 4 90 54 32 70
Carrière de Lumières Route de Maillane 13520 Les Baux de Provence Tel. : +33 4 90 54 47 37
Image credits: All photos provided by and published with the permission of Patricia Sands