November 13, 2017

The Lubéron: Peter Mayle's Provence

With his 1991 memoir A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle put this picturesque region in southeastern France on the radar of travellers. Once I began reading his books I too dreamed of visiting Provence, and all the beautiful photos I saw of endless rows of lavender stretching away to the horizon only reinforced my dream. So the day we journeyed into the Lubéron countryside was the most anticipated day of our tour.

The Lubéron Countryside

November 06, 2017

St. Rémy de Provence: Van Gogh's Asylum

One of the most productive periods of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s life was the time he spent in the south of France. He’d hoped to establish a community of artists in the town of Arles with his friend, Paul Gauguin. Following an absinthe-fuelled argument with Gauguin, van Gogh sliced off his left earlobe with a razor blade. He then sought refuge from his inner demons at Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery in St. Rémy de Provence.

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Courtauld Gallery, London

October 30, 2017

Carrières de Lumières: Art in a Quarry

If you enjoy art and would like to experience creative talent in a unique environment, consider a visit to a quarry dug deep into the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains of Provence. Carrières de Lumières is a venue for high tech multi-media shows that in past years have highlighted the works of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh. The art featured in 2017 is The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo.

The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo
Carrières de Lumières, Les Baux de Provence

October 23, 2017

Market Day in St. Rémy

The first day trip out of Avignon on week two of our tour of southern France was to the town of St. Rémy de Provence. Our visit was planned for Wednesday – market day. This lively Provençal market features not only heaps of local produce and pans of steaming paella but also clothing, linens, housewares and crafts. Come along with me through the streets of St. Rémy’s Old Town and browse the market stalls.

St. Rémy de Provence on Market Day

October 16, 2017

Avignon, City of the Popes

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Avignon during a stop on a Rhone River cruise through Provence. The annual Avignon Festival was on and a brisk mistral wind was whipping through the streets –a whirlwind much like my visit. But last summer I spent a whole week there, staying at a hotel just outside the medieval ramparts only steps away from the historic city centre. This longer visit allowed me to see a quieter side of the City of the Popes, Avignon.

Medieval Rampart of Avignon

October 09, 2017

Aix-en-Provence: Cézanne's Hometown

The city of Aix-en-Provence is the mid-point between other major cities in the south of France. As such, both of my visits there have been little more than brief lunch stops on the way to somewhere else. The first time, while travelling from Arles to Monte Carlo, we arrived a little early so I had trouble even finding a proper lunch (but I had no problem getting a glass of rosé).

Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence