For this month’s My Provence interview, I’m pleased to present a fellow Provence-lover and the recent author of ‘Thirty-Five Minutes from St. Tropez’… Jane Dunning.
Jane shares with us not only her passion for the South of France, but also some fantastic tips for trip-planning in the region. She’s definitely got me dreaming of hopping in the car for some touring along the fabled Côte d’Azur coastline. A very big merci to Jane for this delightful interview.
1. What’s your connection to Provence, and how long have you been living in or traveling to the region?
I’ve loved Provence since my first holiday in the Var in 1990. Since then I’ve returned many times, sometimes on vacation and, latterly, when house/pet-sitting. My husband and I jumped in the deep end as our first house/pet-sit in 2008 was for four months, caring for four dogs and a large house with pool on a vineyard near La Garde Freinet in the Var. I still love those dogs! Since then, we’ve returned to the vineyard and also looked after an adorable French Bull-dog in Juan-les-Pins and a sweet cat near Brignoles in the Var.
Taking the wrong road en route to Collobrieres gave me an idea for my novel ‘Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez’ which I self-published on Amazon Kindle last year. It’s set in Provence, Italy and London but mainly on the vineyard mentioned above and features imaginary characters and a fictional storyline. However, the dogs appear as themselves! They are named after grape varieties – Pinot, Muscat, Rolle and Chasselas. I knew I wouldn’t find more appropriate names than those!
2. Where is your favorite place to visit? (a tough one!)
There are so many! I really love Cap Ferrat and Villefranche-sur-Mer. We were lucky enough to rent an apartment in Beaulieu-sur-Mer which had fantastic views of the Mediterranean and Cap. We could easily stroll into town and then onto Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat along Promenade Maurice Rouvier or along the beach to Villefranche, taking in the wonderful panoramas as we walked.
We hired a car but it is really easy to use the efficient train service to get around as there are stations in almost all the main towns.
3. Do you have a “best travel memory” for the region?
Yes, the year we holidayed in Provence and Italy for a month. It felt very decadent as we’d only been able to take two week vacations prior to this. We flew into Nice, collected a hire car and whizzed off to charming Menton, travelling east along the Moyenne Corniche with its fabulous views of the coastline and sea below. After a few days in Menton, we spent a week in Apricale in the Ligurian hills and then drove to Villeneuve-Loubet which enabled us to explore the area round Antibes, Juan-les-Pins and Nice. Then we headed back along the coast to Beaulieu-sur-Mer for nearly two weeks before returning to the U.K. Bliss!
4. Can you think of one piece of advice or recommendation for travelers to Provence?
If you have time, concentrate on one area at a time rather than dash from Avignon to Nice on one vacation. Travelling outside of July and August will make getting around far easier.
Perhaps take your first Provençal holiday in the Alpes-Maritime, basing yourself around Nice (Villefranche-sur-Mer is more or less next door and might be a good choice!). You could then easily take day-trips to coastal Menton, Monaco, Antibes and Cannes from there or travel inland to Grasse, Vence or St Paul de Vence.
Another vacation could be based near Saint-Tropez so that you can relax on one of the sandy beaches, mixed in with day-trips to Sainte-Maxime, Port Grimaud or the less developed resorts to the west of the Saint-Tropez peninsula.
The Luberon could easily warrant a two week stay or longer if you can manage it. There are wonderful houses and cottages to rent and a myriad of places to visit. Apart from Avignon and Orange, there are many beautiful villages set amongst the vineyards to the east of the region including Gordes, Rousillon and Ménerbes.
5. Finally, can you give us one sentence which you feel describes Provence?
A land of historic villages, vibrant towns, spectacular coastline, rugged hills and mountains – something for everyone to fall in love with!
I published my first novel ‘Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez’ on Amazon Kindle last year. It’s available for EUR 2,68 or £1.54. If you don’t have a Kindle, it is still possible to download it to your laptop or tablet.
(Please find the link for Amazon Kindle readers in the US here.)
My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/JaneDunningAuthor where you will find information about my book together with photos, including some of the canine characters featured in the story.
Should you be interested in finding out more about our free house-sitting service, we have a page on the house-sitting website, Mind My House. www.mindmyhouse.com/owners/sitter_listing/6834
*photos provided by Jane Dunning, all rights reserved.