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Encountering the Wild Animal Kingdom of Provence in the Alpilles

Contributor blog post by Keith Van Sickle:

St-Rémy-de-Provence, where my wife Val and I live part of the year, is a beautiful Provençal town. It has a long history, starting with the original Roman city of Glanum—you can still see its ruins on the edge of town. St-Rémy is the birthplace of the medieval sage Nostradamus and the place where Vincent Van Gogh spent his year in an asylum and painted masterpieces like Starry Night.

The old city center has terrific restaurants and our Wednesday morning market might be the best in Provence, drawing tourists from all over. The town’s population is just ten thousand but it seems larger, enough so that I sometimes forget that we’re out in the country. But if I walk just a few minutes in any direction, I’m reminded of where we are.

If we go left out of our front door and walk five minutes, we are right in the middle of town. But if we instead go to the right and walk five minutes, we’re in the country. Really in the country.

Transhumance Provence @PerfectlyProvence

…Continue reading here to discover Keith’s encounters with the inhabitants of the “wild kingdom” in the Alpilles. Although, Provence has a significant population base, and Marseille is France’s second largest city there is, in fact, plenty of natural space to explore. The region is blessed with lots of sunshine, and a little wind, perfect conditions to explore the rolling hills. The Alpilles are one of several protected parks in Provence and the place you might encounter wild boar, sheep and goat herds, rabbits, birds and the odd reptile.

Lumières des Alpilles JF Galeron

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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