Spending time in Provence you reconnect with an eternal good life guided by the seasons and enriched by its extraordinary beauty. My heart beats to the daily cycle as the sun welcomes a clear-sky dawn before beating down until an apricot dusk, all around is a changing patchwork of rolling fields as the vines grow heavy and vibrant summer ripens to mellow fruitfulness. We were deep in its fertile valley this summer, embraced by the Luberon rising steeply all around, engraved with its hilltop villages and endless views.
I was daily struck by the beauty of nature: the vibrant charm of the wild flowers, the waves of rippling corn pierced through with poppies, the cherry trees bent heavy and OMG the brilliant purple lavender. Exploring en velo and horseback I realised Provence is not just a visual feast for it is scented with wild mint, ripening figs and that lavender while the bees hum, the cicadas sing and butterflies sometimes settle.
Each summer when I arrive from the city it’s nature in all its life-affirming sun-drenched glory that captures my attention.
But it is the wild flowers that carpet my heart, I am obsessed by them.
All summer long, each day of the week, a Provençal village (or two) hosts the market. I like to get there EARLY, quoff petit dejeuner and be basket-pret for Bonnieux, Lourmarin and Coustellet.
Afterwards we drift home and put together a lazy feast, I say this, because ‘cooking’ in Provence is so beguilingly easy, the produce is so fresh it’s still warm from the sun and you just arrange flavours and colours into franglaise-tapas.
Although this year we added classic ratatouille served up by Lyra… oh and courgette fritters, artichokes with coconut vinaigrette, almond and basil roasted lamb, barbecued beet with fresh goat’s cheese, courgette flowers and… and… and so it went on. It’s lovely to transform meals into kinfolk feasts where family and friends re-connect. It’s part of how life is restored to simpler pleasures and yet these are elevated to supreme importance: the savoir vivre which modern life encourages us to forego is understood here. Each morning there is the boulangerie, possibly the boucherie (complete with moustache and beret) and definitely the Epicerie to visit, all with their share of local gossip, the queue and the expertise.
Chez Lumiéres they sniff the Cavaillon melons for you, making sure they are ‘pret-a-manger’ and offer home baked savoury cakes to wash down that evening aperitif.
And if you don’t feel like cooking … there is always a:
There is only one reason I miss all this: the brocante. Each Sunday a different village hosts it and each Monday I could be tempted to Isle sur la Sorgue, here the antique dealers and their dogs take lunch together beside the river or in the cool shade of their warehouse pitch. Village square or ‘antiquaire’, count me in.
As you make your daily round the villages are so beautiful I am smitten each day AGAIN by their eclectic chalky charm…
Of course it’s fun to explore and after Oppede Le Meilleur I love the juxtaposition that Chateau Lacoste offers, here the A-Z of modern art and architecture have been invited to get creative amongst the vineyards and the chateau.
But your whatever your time in Provence involves: riding, walking, lounging, exploring… trapezing (I kid you not), plays, performances and of course pétanque it creates memories for life.
And now as the hum of the cicadas fade and the golden glow becomes an internal memory, the sun has set on Provence for another year and (as always) I just want …one more week in Provence.