I’ve always wanted to visit Provence. The whole idea of Provencial France with its wine and food and sunshine. Irresistible.
My trip had us visiting Avignon, Arles and Aix de Provence, and of course driving through endless fields of sunflowers, vineyards and the odd Olive grove.
Avignon is a walled city on the Rhone River. In the 14th Century, it became the Popes Residence, so, of course a majestic Palace was built there for the Pope to live in. The building is 15,000m2 and is the largest medieval building in a Europe.
I spent the afternoon wandering the streets and lanes. There are so many tempting little lanes to turn down and I wasn’t disappointed with any of the little detours I took. If it wasn’t for GPS I’d have been totally lost in the maze of squares and tunnel like lanes. Like everywhere I’ve been on this trip, there are beautiful little scenes to be found everywhere.
The following morning we moved onto Arles -another tick of my bucket list! Besides being beautifully French Provencial, Arles has some wonderful Roman structures that are still being used by the public. There is a Roman Theatre that still hosts regular productions and an arena (or amphitheatre) that hosts French style bull-fighting or theatrical Gladiator fights, particularly over Summer. I guess Arles stays on the bucket list until I return for some summer evening theatre within these ancient buildings.
Arles is also the place where Van Gough painted some of his most famous pieces. It’s also in Arles where he cut off his earlobe after a falling out with his friend Gauguin. My favourite Van Gough has always been “Cafe Terrace at Night”, and I spent some time sitting (with a French beer) in the spot from which Van Gough would have created that piece of art.
The afternoon was spent in Aix de Provence. This is the largest city in the region and had amazing shopping, and of course, amazing cafés and views. I shopped and enjoyed a Gelato before racing back to meet my tour.
One of the highlights of this trip was dinner. We were taken out to the Provencial countryside to a restaurant that was hidden away in the hills. L’ecuries de l’aube is a family owned restaurant and served us the must lovely Provencial menu including a homemade tapenade made from their own olives.
As I write this I’m on my way to the Cote D’Azur. Another glorious French fantasy of mine about to come true!