Since summer travel is on everyone's mind right now, I thought it'd be great to share a write up by my dear friend, author and travel blogger Caroline from Shutters & Sunflowers. Caroline is an expert on my favorite place of all time - Provence!
Provence is SUCH a special place and no one knows it better than Caroline. She has a way with words and sweeps you into a world of beauty and pleasure, making you experience the beauty & bounty that the South of France has to offer. A perfect read as we go into the weekend!
Her blog Shutters and Sunflowers is a travel resource where she shares stories about things which touch her heart. In her own words, "it's about living the journey not waiting to get to the destination!" Amen to that. Caroline has very generously shared her Provence travel guides with us for free at the end of the post. Enjoy :P
What is it that consistently draws people to Provence and to the Luberon in particular? What precisely is Provence’s appeal, that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ which makes the region so captivating? Aside from its natural beauty, its enduring appeal is that it remains one of the few places whose charm has not diminished with the passing of time. Simple pleasures of life can still be found here, and in abundance.
Immersing Yourself In Simple Pleasures
Provence is a place where lingering in the shade over a long lazy lunch, watching the world pass by, is part of life and in our over scheduled lives, is perhaps the very essence of Provence’s appeal!
It’s where shopping means ambling through a brightly colored market, filling your basket with freshly baked pastries, ripe local produce, the soil still clinging to it, a medley of olives, honey and flowers.
Life seems kinder here, that in itself is so integral to Provence’ appeal, where instead of rushing, one simply meanders....exploring the narrow streets, stopping every so often to admire a tall shuttered window or a worn brass door handle, which you just know has a story to tell.
It’s a place where one wanders down tree lined avenues, where bustling street cafés beckon, their only requirement being that you take your time over a coffee or glass of wine. Simple pleasures so integral to Provence’s appeal, just as alluring today as they were when Van Gough, Gauguin, Cézanne captured it on their canvases!
A Symphony for the Senses
There is so much to admire in Provence. To look at, to taste, to smell, to hear - simple but delightful sensory experiences which define it's appeal.
Sights of Provence
Provence and especially the Luberon, is visually stunning. The sense of the past is inescapable in its enchanting perched villages, its tumbled down castles, abbeys and medieval chateaux.
Set against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and a magical light, Provence has enticed artists for centuries. This unique transcendent light has a sharply defining clarity which has the becomes almost translucent, a painter’s dream!
It is an ever-changing kaleidoscope, where streaming sun rays intensify and illuminate the natural colours of the spectacular landscape.
Vibrant summer carpets of dancing yellow sunflowers and shades of lavender.
Endless rolling fields of bright green vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards, which evolve into a deep, rich, ocher glow before shedding their gowns to rest during winter.
Fragrances of Provence
As the seasons change so do the natural fragrances, which in this part of the world have an intensity which perfumes the air like no where else. Lavender, verbena and olives, so defining of summer in Provence pervade. And later, the heady aroma of the vines, when lush crops of grapes drip like fat jewels, from ancient gnarly fists. Fragrances which giddily illustrate Provence’s appeal!
Tastes of Provence
Good food and eating in Provence, really matters. It is a place of mouth watering tastes; the flaky, buttery texture of croissants which melt on your tongue; of ripe tomatoes whose exploding flavor instantly reminds you of the summers of your childhood, of freshly cut grass, of not having to do anything.
Crusty, floury baguettes spread with soft, creamy cheese which oozes between your finger tips; small sweet strawberries, figs, nectarines and slices of chilled melon, a scrumptious regional bounty which is so much a part of Provence’s appeal. And as you feast on all this deliciousness, your ears full of the lyrical melody of the French language and the chirping of crickets, you’ll probably wonder if anything has ever tasted as good.
Perhaps the very heart of Provence’s appeal is that it is a place to find respite from the frenzied, interconnected world so many of us find ourselves consumed by, a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, as beguiling today, as it was many lifetimes ago.