“In Provence, the sun rises twice, once in the morning and once after the nap” by Yvan Audouard
You head to the port, sunglasses on, for a coffee on the café terrace. Your friends at the table bubble over with talk of the catch of the day. Intrigued by these spiky little balls that are sold at premium prices, you order 6 sea urchins, the caviar of the Med that you eat with a spoon. Stroll behind the port where each succeeding civilisation has left traces of its heritage in the narrow streets and houses covered in ochre colours. The heat sends you to shaded terraces where it is the perfect time to order a glass of rosé wine! Both dry and smooth, with blackcurrant and raspberry notes, the wine offers you the chance to leave everything behind with just one sip and imagine yourself at the foot of Sainte-Victoire Mountain in the north of Aix-en-Provence . At the end of the day, on the quay, the sun goes down over the traditional “pointu” boats, it doesn’t take much for the trip, however short, to reignite in you feelings of energy and freedom! You cannot mistake this place for any other. You are in the Mediterranean… Cassis, Marseille, Saint-Tropez, La Ciotat, Toulon, Istres, Martigues, do you really know in which harbor are you ?
For a safari in a wild, natural area that’s just 1 hour from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, head for the Camargue region. This natural space has unique landscapes filled with reeds, lagoons and tidal marshes. Through your binoculars you’ll see a paradise of 400 species of migratory birds, including the largest colony of flamingos in Europe, truly one of the most well-kept secrets of Provence! Arriving in Arles, you follow the crowds to the Arena, where the horses mounted by the “gardians” surround the bulls galvanized by the bustle. This is the Abrivado! It’s a timeless moment where Arles vibrates, much like near thePont du Gard, during the pyrotechnic show.
The Mistral wind blows and brings cool air with it. You wander through the pedestrian streets of Avignon. From the front of the majestic and imposing Palace of the Popes, it’s just a short walk up to the Rocher des Doms garden. From this peaceful spot you can see over the rooftops of the city to the Pont Saint Bénézet, the Rhone River and Mont Ventoux, nicknamed the giant of Provence and star of the Tour de France! On the pleasant twisting roads, you come upon hilltop villages, fields of lavender, vines and sunflowers. It’s truly the essence of Provence! Stop off at l’Isle sur la Sorgue, to browse through the antique shops or cool down on the terraces next to the Sorgue River. Maybe you’d like to taste a bit of the local peach aperitif, Rinquiquin?Welcome to the Luberon(Be sure to pronounce it LubEUron! As the locals do). You’ll notice that the cliff sides are painted in yellow, orange and red as you go into the Provençal Colorado. Heading east, respond to the call for adventure into the dizzying Verdon Canyon. But before that, nothing beats a short nap in the poppy fields, surrounded by a live cicada concert…
The adventure continues with even more natural landscapes and stunning views with the ridges of Sainte Baume in your sights! Once at the top, there’s a panorama of picturesque villages and natural landscapes. To the south are Aubagne and the massif du Garlaban. To the east is “Provence Verte”, an area encompassing Cotignac and its tuff cliff that houses the ancient troglodyte homes as well as the village of Barjols and its fontains collection.
The end of the Provençal odyssey approaches, last trip on the “route des crêtes” between La Ciotat and Cassis. On the fragrance of thyme and rosemary road, a dry and rocky landscape filled and the golden colour of the rocks stands in contrast to the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean Sea. With The Calanques in first sight, just look over to enjoy an astonishing view of Marseille.
There’s no secret to experience Provence to its fullest, learn to stop the clock and fit into nature’s pace. Here, heat and wind mark the beat; the seasons select the menu, and the men and women, who sometimes seem like a caricature but are absolutely unique, greet you with music in their voices to begin your apprenticeship in the art of Provençal living.