When I think back on my most memorable travel experiences they were ones that seemed to affect each and every part of me. These were places where beauty could be seen, touched, smelled and even tasted. In that spirit I cannot think of a better place to visit then a region like Provence. Legendary landscapes captured by Cezanne, outdoor markets, antiquing and well, I could go on and on – are just a few of the reasons that make this certainly a place worth visiting.
Here I have managed to sum up what I believe to be the top five.
1. To experience art come alive. Provence itself is a work of art and has been featured in paintings by artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. You can walk the well forged paths of these artists across beautiful countryside. Cezanne, a native of Provence, captured both beauty and love for his homeland in paintings such as Montagne Sainte-Victoire. While visiting St-Remy-de-Provence you can pick out pieces from Van Gogh paintings in an almost impressionist Where’s Waldo.
2. The color purple. While traveling the countryside it is hard to ignore the deep shades of purple that cover the hills of Northern Provence. The fields of lavender sway in the wind which carries with it the aroma of countless perfumes and creams. To experience the lavender in full bloom it is best to travel during June and July, but its beauty can be seen until mid-October.
3. Outdoor markets. The scent of lavender along with honey, ripe fresh produce (whatever’s in season), and fresh baguette swirls together in the air of Markets in Provence. Each day brings with it an outdoor market in a different region. Vendors typically open around eight and end their day at one. This not only provides you with delicious food, but a perfect setting for people watching and truly immersing yourself in a culture.
4. Hidden treasures. Any trip would not be complete, in my opinion, without a memento representing my time there or just something that captures the character and culture of a place. Provence provides ample opportunity for finding just such a treasure with its many antique shops and flea markets. Some particularly well-known are the Marché à la Brocante in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and L’ Isle-sur-la-Sorge in Vaucluse. Whether your treasure be an 18th century armoire or for those more budget conscious a vintage straw hat, you can find it here along with an authentic piece of provincial pottery.
5. Something original. And finally for those of you who like authenticity, there is the original Arc de Triomphe which was built in AD 26. It certainly does not get much more authentic than that. This along with a statue of Emperor Augustus and an ancient Roman amphitheater, can be found in Orange at the northern tip of Provence.
This would truly be a trip to awaken the senses!!
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