This post is the first in a new series which seeks to share different visions of this fascinating region. I hope you will enjoy the distinctive “voices” expressed in My Provence and be transported, if only temporarily, to this lovely corner of the world.
An author, sometime journalist, and seasoned traveller, Deborah Lawrenson has been in love with Provence for as long as she can remember. Living the dream of many France-lovers (myself included!), she resides with her husband in a “crumbling” house in the Luberon. I met Deborah through her beautiful blog, where she shares her evocative images of the region along with equally exquisite descriptions. She’s been kind enough to give us a bit of a window into her Provence.
1. What is your connection to Provence, and how long have you been living in or traveling to the region?
I’ve been coming to Provence for nearly thirty years, the first time with the college boyfriend who would become my husband. His family had had a house in the Luberon for some twenty years and before that, a wealthy great-uncle had restored a chateau close to Grasse, which sounds like the background for a novel in itself! We finally bought our own property at the eastern end of the Luberon valley five years ago after Robert finally decided he’d worked long enough in London and he wanted to realize his long-held ambition to compose music.
2. Where is your favorite place to visit? (a tough one!)
That is a very tough one and I’m not sure I can choose a single place… Fontaine de Vaucluse for the pure emerald water, though ideally out of season because it does get crowded. The sheer glamour of Eze, dining on a terrace high above Cap Ferrat. Or simply sitting in the breeze on our hillside of an evening, watching the sun set on the rippled mountain and the lights come on all down the valley.
3. Do you have a “best travel memory” for the region?
I have so many, and each is quite different, that again it’s impossible to pick one. My fond memories range from reporting on the Cannes film festival for a British newspaper when I was a journalist – meeting film stars on La Croisette and having lunch at La Colombe d’Or at St-Paul-de-Vence; to spending a couple of weeks driving around in a convertible with my husband, staying wherever we felt like, from Nice to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; to scenes that are ongoing, of simply wandering around places like Apt and Bonnieux, Roussillon and Manosque with time to stop and look and savour the markets and the artisan shops.
4. Can you think of one piece of advice or recommendation for travelers to Provence?
The weather in September is almost always blissful: not quite as searing hot as high summer and the water in swimming pools will feel deliciously icy under the sun. My recommendation would be to go to a local fête votive – a village party with a live band and dancing under the stars. The music will be eclectic from Piaf songs to the Stones to French rap; older couples will dance beautiful tangos; there will be a “casino” with an ancient roulette wheel and plenty of local wine. You pay for your drinks but otherwise it’s free for all and you’ll be immersed in Provençal life!
5. Finally, can you give us one sentence which you feel describes Provence?
The light, the views, the colours, the heat, the scents and the sense of history, are all intoxicating.
I’d like to extend a very warm merci to Deborah for providing us with such a gorgeous picture of her Provence.
You can read more about Deborah’s life in the South on her lovely blog and be sure to check out her most recent book, The Lantern – inspired by her Provençal surroundings and set in the Luberon. Intrigue, murder, and the stunning backdrop of the South of France… I’m all in!
*Photos provided by Deborah Lawrenson, all rights reserved.