Hello dear friends and readers. It’s hot, hot, hot in the south of France and already the tourists are making themselves seen (and heard). I’m very pleased to present this latest edition of My Provence, featuring a woman who knows all too well the joys of vacationing in Provence.
So much so, in fact, that she bought an apartment in the beautiful town of Sanary-sur-Mer… where she is a sometime resident and avid market-goer. Yes, now is precisely the time to turn green with envy…
Sue Aitken has also taken her love of the region and opened up an online shop selling all things Provençal and fabulous. I’ll let Sue share with you more of “her Provence” and you can read additional travel tips in her recent post: An Insider’s Guide to Sanary-sur-Mer.
1. What is your connection to Provence, and how long have you been living in or traveling to the region?
I have a flat in Sanary sur Mer, which I’ve had for over 10 years. I first visited Sanary during my year abroad as part of my French degree when I was working in Toulouse as an assistante. The brother of one of my friends lived in Sanary, and we came on a weekend visit. I fell in love with it, and so when I was looking for a place in France, it was the obvious choice.
2. Where is your favorite place to visit? (a tough one!)
This is indeed a very tough question. I think Avignon is a wonderful city – all that gorgeous white stone against the deep blue sky is fabulous. And it’s great for shopping and has some good restaurants. Everyone always talks about Aix, but for me Avignon has got more going for it. I really love St Remy – I think the market’s great (the best in Provence), and it’s a really pretty little provençal town. For scenery, the calanques between Marseille and Cassis are spectacular. And although I don’t get there often, I really like the countryside around Les Dentelles de Montmirail near Gigondas. The contrast between the white jagged limestone outcrops and the dark green trees and vegetation is really gorgeous.
3. Do you have a “best travel memory” for the region?
I remember spending a few days in autumn exploring the area around the Luberon. We’d had terrible weather, and then on the last day, we arrived in Cassis. The sun was shining, the sky was that deep blue you only see in Provence, and we sat and had a wonderful lunch outside at one of the restaurants in the harbour. Glorious!
Les Dentelles de Montmirail
4. Can you think of one piece of advice or recommendation for travelers to Provence?
Visitors often head for the coast or the Luberon, where there are always loads of tourists. I’d suggest getting off the beaten tourist track with some exploration of the countryside in the Vaucluse – around Gigondas and the other villages of the Cotes du Rhone like Seguret – and get into some serious wine tasting! There’s a wonderful little hotel called Les Florets where I’ve stayed a couple of times which is perfectly situated and also has been awarded a “bib gourmand” by Michelin – so the food’s wonderful and not too expensive.
5. Finally, can you give us one sentence which you feel describes Provence?
Something for all the senses – the sound of the cicadas, the deep blue sky against the dark green hills, the smell of rosemary and lavender, the wonderful food and the warmth of the sun on your face. I could go on…
I’d like to extend a very warm “merci” to Sue for her insightful interview!