A week in Provence

The name Provence has its origin in the fact that it was the first Roman province beyond the Alps, Rome’s Provincia Romana. The region is quite large and very diverse and is made up of six départements, namely the Var, Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes and a part of Hautes-Alpes. We decided to stick to the Vaucluse for the week and my husband and I stayed in a beautiful bastide (country house) in the Petite Luberon (Peter Mayle’s famous books about Provence and the movie A Good Year were all set in the Luberon, so you might already have a beautiful picture in your mind even if you have never been there).

The large regional Luberon Park protects the countryside from random development, so even if it is such a big touristy area with many foreigners buying properties and invading the region during the summer months, this area somehow manages to preserve its wonderful valley floors and hilltop villages. The area was ravaged by (it seems) just about every war that Europe has seen since Roman times, and so just about all the villages cling precariously to hilltops, being built around some ancient castle, all of them giving commanding views of the valley below. The towns are quite sleepy during the average week, or at least till it is the weekly market day. And although the wonderful bistros, artisan crafts, fantastic markets and charming architecture of the region delivered on all the promises the guide book made, it was the quilted patchwork countryside down below on the valley floors, the gentle rising foothills and the landscape that took us by surprise. It is even more beautiful than what I expected! Beautiful vineyards, green lavender fields starting to turn purple, silver-green olive groves, fruit trees laden with bright red cherries all stood between the cypress and plane trees with dramatic red poppy fields in between.

Looking back at the week, it was an olive tree that created one of the surprising highlights of our trip. The photo below is of me under a 1,000 year old olive tree. How incredible is it’s gnarled trunk and its grey-green leaves? Simply beautiful!

Image credits: All photography by me (except the one of me, of cause. My husband was behind the camera)

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