|Arles on the Rhone River|
We journeyed by bus into Les Alpilles, the white limestone hills that lie between the Luberon region of Provence and the Mediterranean Sea. The family-owned olive farm Mas des Barres is located in one of the valleys.
|Olive Grove in Provence|
|Mas des Barres Olive Farm|
|Oleander in Bloom|
Our tour began in the olive grove where I was soon distracted by the soft green foliage set against a clear blue sky.
Then we toured the mill where modern machinery is now used for extraction and storage of the olive oil.
|Traditional Olive Rake|
|Conveyor Belt for Washing the Olives|
The boutique features products made from the olive tree, including oil, tapenades, wooden bowls, and a line of soaps and lotions by Une Olive en Provence.
|Une Olive en Provence|
At the conclusion of our tour, we were offered a tasting of the farm's olive oils and a variety of delicious tapenades (chopped olives, capers and olive oil).
I found a cool, shady spot under a fig tree where I could relax and enjoy the sounds of a Provençal garden thanks to the chirping cicadas, or cigars.
Then we boarded our bus and ventured up into the hills to the town of Les Baux de Provence.
Les Alpilles, Provence
Château des Baux, the town's original fortress, sits in ruins atop its strategic hilltop location.
Ruins of Château des Baux
Les Baux de Provence has maintained strong ties with the reigning Grimaldi family of Monaco since 1642 and French magazine Paris Match chose the town for an exposition of photos of Princess Grace.
Princess Grace Exposition, Les Baux
The A-Part International Festival of Contemporary Art was also taking place in Les Baux. The large ceramic sofa shaped like lips really stood out amongst the black and white photos and creamy limestone walls.
La Bocca, Bertrand Lavier
The town of Les Baux is charming, and the narrow, pedestrian-only streets are lined with souvenir shops.
The weather was perfect – hot and sunny. And now I understood the quality of the light and colour that had attracted artists like Vincent Van Gogh to Provence.
I wish we could have spent more time in Les Baux de Provence but it was time to return to the ship for lunch, followed by an afternoon exploring Arles, the town Van Gogh once made his home.
"O" is for Olive
"P" is for Princess