The best of Provence – The South East corner of my French heaven

best-of-ProvenceNow that the high season is over, I can return to blogging on a more regular basis.ย 

So many wonderful people have visited me this year. From old friends vacationing in the area to my dear Julia and her beautiful family and the usual suspects of course like Mimi.H92A9491

Mimi came last month, this time with her husband Dave. We all hopped in the car and rushed off to Provence. What fun we had! Between the sites, the food and the lovely wines, we did not waste a single minute of the couple of weeks we spent in this unexplored corner of my French heaven.best-of-Provence

When I say “unexplored” I am somewhat exaggerating. It’s just that I hadn’t visited Provence in nearly 30 years. One of my most vivid childhood memories was of getting lost one evening with my parents on the island of Porquerolles. Quite a nice memory actually. Fun, adventure, everything a 10 year old boy lives for.

This is only the first of two posts I’ll write about this trip. I just have way too many photos and memories to share. The second post will be more about the riviera itself…

But for now, let me tell you about the back country. We first stayed near the city of Avignon, in a little village called Boulbon. Our hotel was what we call a Bastide in the heart of the village. A bastide is basically a large house that, in the old days, would have been home to an influential person (in the 17th or 18th century). A doctor maybe or a rich merchant… What strikes you first when you get there is the way these buildings and the villages themselves perfectly fit in their environment. Everywhere you look is a different shade of green or beige. The trees themselves are all in the lighter shades of green. Olive trees of course but sycamores also and citrus trees. Sycamores are EVERYWHERE!best-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provence

We visited Aix en Provence, Saint Remy and les Baux de Provence of course. In Baux, we visited an old stone quarry which is now used for an incredible light show. Paintings and drawings by Da Vinci and Raphael are projected on the walls to the sound of music. Absolutely mesmerizing! We were also very impressed with the Popes’ palace in Avignon. Most people forget, but between 1309 and 1415 (on and off) the popes resided in Avignon instead of Rome.best-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provence

Two other villages “surprised” us by their beauty: Gordes overlooking the valley and Rouissillon where all the buildings are made of local ochres. The whole village is of different shades of red, yellow and orange. We visited the local open air quarriesย where the natural clay they used for the buildings came from. These quarries are quite famous as, in medieval times, the bright colored dust was used to paint all the interiors of our churches and royal castles throughout France.best-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provence

But let’s talk about what’s really important: THE FOOD. Our two favorite meals in the area were at “La fourchette” in Avignon and “Le bistrot du Paradou” in the village of Paradou. La fourchette had the most exquisite traditional dishes, all cooked to perfection. Escargots, pieds paquets, grenouilles… While this gave us the traditional French dinning experience, the other place was even more fun. It had a set menu (roast chicken for us that evening) the best looking servers you’ve ever met and the greenest olives I’ve ever seen. Still don’t know which was the most delicious…best-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provencebest-of-Provence

Next post: the riviera, Cannes, Bouillabaisse, old Nice, Menton…

63 Comments Add yours

  1. gypsygurl64 says:

    Just lovely! Each time you post I get to visit France! It’s not a bad substitute until the time which I’m able to visit/live. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I hope that will be sometime soon my dear friend!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Linda Duffin says:

    Good to see you back on these pages Stephane. I’m looking out of my window at a grey English day and wishing I had Provence for my back garden too. Beautiful pictures, as ever.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear friend. Not worried, I know you carry some provence in your heart ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Absolutely stellar photography! Some of your shots just took my breath away, Stephane. I can’t wait to catch up and see your next post!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so nice! My dream is to make a living as a photographer someday, but I lack the self confidence and comments like yours give me the strength to carry on learning… Have a lovely day my friend!!!

      1. You must give yourself credit, as I already see you has a professional photographer so I don’t see why you couldn’t make a living at it. You have a lovely day too!

  4. Linda says:

    Gorgeous photos!! Makes me want to go there! It will definitely be on my wish-list ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Knowing you, I know you’d feel right at home there. Oh Linda the food alone…

      1. Linda says:

        I so would! Your photos kind of remind me of northern Italy – the wonderful villas and beautiful countryside – and the food – oh – what wonderful food we enjoyed in Paris and Italy and even England – where I thought the food would be a bit more plain – we had such a delicious variety – I would go back to all those places just for the food alone (like you said!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Beautiful pictures. I have been going to Cannes every year since 1992 on business but never took the time to explore the region. I visited Nice kind of properly for the first time about four or five years ago. Went to Arles a few years back because I had a meeting to do and stayed an extra night to take time off but that’s been it. Next year I will definitely do at least a couple of days off somewhere!

  6. Your photos are so gloriously enticing. Now I’ve read both yours and Mimi’s blog posts on your road trip to Provence I am truly envious. One child graduated from high school this week and two more years to go before my daughters are done – I’ve just suggested to my husband a trip to France is exactly what I will need to celebrate the changing of the guard.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      May I suggest really bad food and bed bugs so they leave the house even faster? Just kidding. It will be a special day when we finally get to meet in person my dear friend!

  7. Wonderful to see Aix-en-Provence! It’s one of my very best vacation spots! Fantastic photos. ๐Ÿ“

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It is a special city indeed.Sadly, the flower market wasn’t very impressive given the time of year… I’ll have to go back someday, this time in July …

      1. I was there two weeks in April. Everything was in bloom. ๐Ÿ“

  8. Stunning. Oh how I wish I were there. Your photos are so interesting and beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you Amanda! Yes, you would absolutely love that part of France. No wonder everyone around the world see it as a dream destination… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Conor Bofin says:

    Another top post my friend. I want to sell up and move to La Belle F.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You really should! You know you were made to live over here + I don’t think I can wait for another year to taste one of your dishes… Move NOW!

  10. Sabine says:

    Thatยดs so beautiful, again! Love the photo of your friend Mimi , her lipstick matching the restaurant setting. wonderful!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Sabine! Yes, Mimi has an impecable sense of style!

  11. Those ochre colours are wonderful – as is the emerald green of the olives.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      We were stunned by the natural color of the olives. These are called “picholines”. Very meaty and crunchy…

  12. FABULOUS photos! Makes me feel like I’m really there… what a gorgeous place..

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It really is a special place. It is even better when you get to share the experience with good friends.

  13. Jodi says:

    Oh Stephane! So good to hear from you! Such dreamy photos! Thank you for sharing!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure dear friend!!!!

  14. judilyn says:

    It’s almost time to start dinner, and my homey meatloaf plans seem so mundane now.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m stuck at a classical concert right now and forgot about dinner. I would kill for a slice of your meatloaf right now!!!!!!

  15. I wonder if the artist in Roussillon was part of a workshop that my brother teaches there.

    I love Provence and really enjoyed your photos

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I don’t know but that would have been quite a coincidence…

      1. I sent him the link to your blog and asked him

        I will let you know

        Peggy

  16. Makes me want to venture back soon! Alas there are other areas in the world to visit first!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      So many places, so little time ๐Ÿ˜Š

        1. My French Heaven says:

          ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. annascuisine says:

    If I live alone, I would jump on a plane and visit those places. Stunning images by the way. I enjoyed viewing them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you๐Ÿ˜Š

      1. annascuisine says:

        My pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. ladyredspecs says:

    Nice to enjoy Mimi’s visit vicariously. Provence looks beautiful through your camera lens Stephane..

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh thank you my dear! Yes, Mimi and Dave are the ideal travel partners ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Wonderfully evocative images as always Stรฉphane ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Jane!!

  20. chef mimi says:

    Beautiful photos, except the ones of me! It’s funny, I have many of the same photos as yours, but yours look so much better! dammit! I need a photography workshop with you!!!

    1. ladyredspecs says:

      You look happy and relaxed Mimi, looks like a wonderful visit (I hate being photographed)

    2. I didn’t know you two bloggers knew each other. You look great Mimi! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. chef mimi says:

        Yeah! I’ve been with my husband, with a girlfriend, and with my daughter!!! and we have plans for more trips!

      2. My French Heaven says:

        Wรฉve known each other for years. Mimi’s here all the time. At this point she might as well just buy a house here…

    3. My French Heaven says:

      The ones of you are some of my favorite. You know how happy your smile makes me!

  21. yogaleigh says:

    A couple of my all time favorite journeys were in Provence and I visited many of the spots you’ve mentioned so this was a lovely reminder. Love Nice and surrounding area and the ART everywhere so I look forward to chapter two!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      So glad you liked it! I’m planning on posting chapter 2 on Sunday ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Ahh, I’ve missed you and your lovely photos and stories, Stephane. Since my b-i-l and s-i-l no longer live in Provence, it was a joy to visit there again through your post. Merci beaucoup!!

    janet

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure Janet!!

  23. My trip to Provence was back about 11 years ago when we had a chance to stay in a private home in Ventebren. What a marvelous hilltop medieval village. When we informed our hosts we were heading to Rousillon for the day they made us take our shoes off outside the house and show our pants were clean of the dust.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Wow, some hosts ๐Ÿ˜ i must say I kind of understand though. So glad you got to experience all this first hand! Truly a special corner of my French heaven ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Š

  24. Anne-Michรจle says:

    C’est vrai que notre France est un bien joli pays, oรน il fait bon y vivre.
    Cordialement
    AM LENGLART

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Vous avez bien raison Anne-Michelle. Nous ne prenons pas assez le temps de nous balader autour de chez nous ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Wonderful Stephane. Beautiful photos as always and what a great trip!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Indeed. So glad I got to see Provence again thanks to Mimi

  26. joanfrankham says:

    As always your photos make me want to jump on a plane and visit these wonderful places.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Why don’t you Joan !? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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