4 things you didn’t know about the Provence, France
Based on a romantic notion of walking through lavender fields, drinking French wine and organic French cosmetics I took a long weekend trip with a friend to the Provence in the South of France.
We knew we wanted a rural place, far away from city noise and crowds and found our peaceful guesthouse after extensive research online. What happened during those three days we stayed there by far exceeded any expectations we had. So it is my honor to make this my first post: on positive surprises, kindness and beautiful nature.
Locals are delightful
Who has not heard a story about the rude French people? I don’t know where they are, but in the Provence we did not meet a single one of them. Our hosts were the sweetest people you can imagine, attentive and kindhearted. Not in the overbearing way with fake smiles and rehearsed lines, but subtle, as if we were no inconvenience at all. After just one day in their guesthouse, we felt like family. One day. If you’d like to see for yourself, check out: Le Mas des Kiwis.
And then there is that rumor that the French don’t respond if you address them in any language but their own. Dears, let me just say this: don’t believe rumors. Our French is far from perfect, but where ever we went we were greeted with smiles and conversation, interest even. Our hosts spoke English so that was easy, but even in the local stores the staff made conversation, somehow. One example is this adorable beauty supply store selling the best smelling locally sourced soaps, diffusers, lotions and so on: Le Théatre d´Augustine.
Yes, of course we tried our best and know the basics in French, effort was rewarded. And yes, kindness is returned when given and we didn’t go there with entitled attitudes. But what I am saying is we hit fruitful ground. In the Provence people are hospitable and nice.
Food portions in France are big
The next myth I heard a lot was that French cuisine means eating very little portions. Here again, now I know better. Let me paint you a picture of the breakfast that awaited us every morning:
Fresh coffee, tea and freshly squeezed orange juice. Croissants, pain au chocolat, baguettes. Homemade fig and apricot preserves. Fresh fruit. French cheeses, hard and soft varieties. Bio yogurt and milk for muesli. Can anybody go hungry here?
Even in the restaurants! I remember ordering appetizers that made the mains unnecessary in this cute little restaurant called La Dinette in Orange. And surely, we never went hungry. On the second evening we followed the recommendations of our hostess and dined at Côté Terrasse in Seguret, one of France´s most beautiful villages. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but this was objectively beautiful. And tasty 🙂
The next day we had dinner in another one of the most beautiful villages in France, at Les Remparts in Venasque. We most accidentally stumbled upon this gem – and from our table watched the sun set over the valley with all its vines glistening in the magic hour lighting.
To see lavender fields you have to climb mountains
Did you also think that if you drive through Southern France the lavender fields would just line the roads along the rivers? Maybe you did, then you are better informed than myself. Then I learned that lavender doesn’t grow below 500m. Below, you’ll find vineyards, lots of them. And we all know about the world famous French wines. But to get to the purple fields with that soothing smell, you have to drive uphill, or ride your bike or whatever you do. After tons of winding roads you will encounter valleys of lavender fields surrounded by green mountains. Like in the picture, taken not far from Sault.
As I said above, we were trying to get away from the tourists. And it was remarkably easy. And what happens when you are the only two people in the middle of a blooming lavender field? You can hear the millions of bees humming around your knees. It sounds like summer. They make that sweet lavender honey you can buy in local shops.
I didn’t know lavender fields make sounds. Did you?
Did you ever go somewhere and were positively surprised by your destination?