Must Watch Video Tour in Perfectly Provence
It never gets easier to leave Provence, in fact, it might get harder each time. After several years of spending time in the region, it seems like my list of “must see and should do” just gets longer. Maybe it is because most days are highlighted by an endless sky. Even when there is an occasional downpour (yes, that does happen) the Mistral (or one of the other 32 types of wind) quickly clears out any sombre clouds and damp aftermath to ensure the grapes and olives continue, naturally along their growth cycle.
Provence is like a glorious spider’s web, where each view is unique, and every experience draws you just a little closer into the sticky net – until you are completely hooked. My summer highlights each year grow as the opportunity to connect with new and old friends seems to explode. Yet, there is never enough time.
When Perfectly Provence launched in October 2014, I thought there were a few others who shared my appreciation for the region. However, I never considered there would be 40+ writers of all different backgrounds and expertise who share my passion. The website now has more than 1400 articles on the region covering a range of topics: wine domaines and tasting notes, restaurant reviews, cultural experiences, art classes, touring ideas and guided tours, expat living, book reviews, Provencal recipes, places to stay and much more.
Perfectly Provence has become a resource for research on the area, for those planning a trip and for other considering a more permanent relocation.
Maybe misery likes company, but it turns out that I am not alone in my empty heart when I leave Provence. Paula Kane and I have commiserated over lunch at a French bistro in Alberta. PJ Adams and I agreed that if the rosé is cold, it’s ok to share a toast in California. Susan Payton is fun to hike with anywhere. Caroline Longstaffe is just as charming in person as in her blog posts. Patricia Sands’ novels the Love in Provence trilogy has transported me to the Cote d’Azur in the darkest days of Canadian winter.
Autumn in Provence sneaks up on you, the cicadas’ swan song slowly dies out as the weather cools. The mornings take longer to wake up as the sun slowly shakes off a dense, humid fog. Chilled rosé might even be side-swiped by a glass (or two) of flawlessly blended Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre varietals.
This past fall on the day before our departure, usually a day of deep funk for yours truly, I had no time to reflect on our pending flight schedule. It was video time! My day was to be filled with the company of two friends Tasha Powell (accomplished chef, food stylist, photographer) and Tristan Deggan a Franco-Canadian videographer.
It was a windy, slight crisp Wednesday morning. The summer throng might have thinned slightly, but the St Remy de Provence weekly market was still teeming with shoppers, and the stall just as enticing as always. Autumn Provencal markets are an array of earthy colours, summer strawberries and cherries displaced by foraged chocolate-toned mushrooms, orange potimarron squash, dark purple aubergine, and a rainbow of root vegetables.
Lighting dictated Tristan’s video schedule so we could not linger for roasted chestnuts and espresso.
The vineyards in Provence, and indeed the grapevines of AOP les Baux de Provence surrounding the Alpilles, are typically harvested in September. The region benefits from hot summer days, and somewhat cooler nights, so the grapes mature relatively quickly, compared to more northern districts.
Our next stop for film footage was Château Romanin one of the vineyards included under the AOP les Baux de Provence banner for its expertly constructed, bio-dynamic wines. The grapes had been harvested weeks before our arrival, meaning that Château Romanin’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility was full of activity around the precise fermentation schedules for the individual grape varietals. Read why this vineyard should be on your “must visit” list: Chateau Romanin Dedicated to Provence’s Long History of Wine.
Photos and a bit of wine sampling done, it was time to move on.
Our next stop was to the once marshy side of the Alpilles, the villages of Maussane and Paradou are relatively new in the history of this area that has been occupied since the Celtic-Ligurians, Greeks and Romans all took their turns living at Glanum (archaeological site on the hillside above modern day St Remy). The marshlands were a fact of life that made living in perched hamlets a clear benefit, the hilltop village of les Baux and the Montmajour Abbey were essentially islands until the Rhône and Durance Rivers were tamed by a series of dams, and the swampy lands drained.
Maussane has a picture-perfect central square where parasols provide cover for diners lingering over daily specials and beverages from the surrounding cafés. The wait staff, from any one of the at least eight restaurants, have perfected the routine, and somehow manage to cross the main road with their trays laden with food. On the day of our video visit, the Mistral had won the day. Umbrellas were battened down, and Mother Nature persuaded most customers that indoor dining might be preferable. Perfect for photos!
The sun was beginning to set on our spectacular day in Perfectly Provence; it was time for me to face my suitcase and for Tasha and Tristan to get back home. We drove back across the Alpilles mountain range passing a sea of olive groves. October is often the start of the harvest for the precious fruit. With over 100 hectares of commercial operations and countless private estates, there is a lot of olive oil produced from this relatively small geographic area. You can read more about Provencal olives here.
Thank you for taking the time to read our contributors articles, follow along for more travel suggestions in 2017.