It’s finally here… spring! After months of rain, chilly winds (our old friend the Mistral), and many mornings spent chipping ice off our windshield, I couldn’t be happier to welcome one of the prettiest times of year “down south”.
Here are a few of the things I really love about spring in Provence.
While the south of France is renowned the world over for its sunny climate and warm temps, this part of the world actually has very distinct seasons… which, as a southern California native, still take a bit of getting used to. I’ve really come to love watching the colors change from winter to spring, and also the chance to dress a bit “à la française” with long sweaters and piles of scarves, but when those first few rays of sunshine appear I’m jumping for joy.
-The « ambiance »
And it turns out I’m not the only one with spring fever. I arrived at work to find a complete change of attitude. Gone were the grumpy faces hiding behind turtlenecks with hands clutching a series of sugar-filled espressos just to face those dreary rainy days (speaking here from experience) …replaced with smiles, easy laughs, and one reigning topic of conversation: the beautiful weather.
And the feeling is catching. On Thursday (first day of spring), one of the students walked into the school and proudly called out – in English -, “Happy spring day!” That just about sums up how the locals see this time of year… full of exuberance and a return to the “beau temps” that we all are so spoiled to have this time of year.
It goes without saying that the Provençal markets are pretty fabulous all year round, but spring really brings back the best of local cooking – namely beautiful artichokes and asparagus that abound in many colors and varieties. The only difficult thing is finding enough recipes to use them all…
We had our first picnic last weekend along the rocks in Sanary-sur-Mer and it felt like quite the kick-off to the “holiday season”… a little bit of wine, a homemade quiche, and some leftover tarte Tropézienne made for a pretty great lunch along the sea.
This one’s more of a personal thing, but I just really love Easter and thankfully the shops around town are decked out with all the crafting and deco projects a gal could hope for. Our home is in pastel-overdrive… and saving up my euros for all those divine chocolate eggs & bunnies at Jeff de Bruges, divine…
Ahh, the wisteria… it’s simply beautiful and I can’t help but get caught-up in the magic of those little purple flowers. There are several homes along the sea (in Toulon) displaying their flowering plants which makes for some pretty spectacular scenery. Which leads to my next favorite thing…
March and April are fairly quite months as far as tourists go, which means it’s a perfect time to take advantage of some of the nice hiking paths around town.
-Return of the « café culture »
Along with general spring fever, it seems like everyone suddenly remembers how nice it feels to sip your coffee (or wine or Pastis) in the sunshine. Folks were spilling out of the cafés last Saturday in Sanary-sur-Mer and also happily dining “al fresco” in the sidewalk bistros. If you visit Provence at this time of year, just remember what is on the lips of every southerner around lunchtime… “We’d like a table dehors (outside)”.
Besides summer, when the region is awash in festivals (somehow all connected to fish), the spring also season features many interesting and “off the beaten track” festivals like the egg festival in Tourtour and local carnaval celebrations. For more fêtes and helpful information, check out the Visit Var website.
-A crowd-free Cassis
If you haven’t visited this fairytale village on the sea, spring is a great time to do so. Although Cassis is about half an hour from us, I could go every weekend if given the change. The streets, the colors, the chic portside cafés & restaurants… and of course the magic of the Mediterranean. Take one of the many boat rides to the Calanques and I guarantee you’ll quickly fall in love with this Provençal gem.