“Since my childhood I have been visiting Provence and from that early introduction it remains my most favourite area to go on holiday” says author Darina Nykl…
Ten reasons why Provence really is the most perfect holiday destination…
1. The climate of Provence
Provence has mild winters and hot summers. With an average of 2800-3000 hours of sunshine per year and less than 80 mm of rainfall it makes for an ideal holiday destination even during the winter months.
Summer on the coast in Provence as well as inland where the cicadas announce a new day with their chirping – this is what makes it such a great place.
2. Variety in landscape
The deep red colour of the volcanic rock of L’Esterel, the olive groves with their silver leaves, lavender fields, the pines, cypresses, fig trees and exotic vegetation. Provence is a collection of many travel destinations with a variety of activities like hiking and water sports; culture and the beach. And all this against the backdrop of an azure sea where sailing boats float to the rhythm of the waves.
3. Provencal food
Ratatouille – colourful vegetables straight from the market, which you have visited during the early morning. At the vegetables stall look for the most beautiful purple aubergines, green and red peppers, garlic, onions, zucchini and the reddest, juiciest tomatoes. At the spices stall hundreds of herbs are beautifully displayed in earthenware bowls. For ratatouille you need basil and herbes de Provence (thyme, marjoram, rosemary and savoury). Stop at a chateau and buy some locally made wine, Cotes de Provence rosé, for your evening meal and enjoy it while you watch the sun set from your terrace.
4. The light
Everything you discover in Provence looks beautiful by the special light that prevails. The colour of the sea, the steel-blue sky, the colour of the houses with their yellow and orange walls. It is also called “the land of light” and it is truly enchanting, having inspired many painters over the centuries including Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
5. The silence in the inland
The shrill sound of the cicadas, the sweltering heat. On the coast it is a buzzing sound, but if you drive a few kilometres inland, you can feel and hear the silence. Small sleepy villages, where they still have a siesta. Take a walk through the pine forests, have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view of the valley. Take a drive and enjoy the scenery around you and stop in a village where you sit on a terrace near a bubbling fountain where you order a pastis. La vie française!
6. Typical Provencal houses
Mas is the name given to a farmhouse, built with local stone. Originally the “mas” was intended as a storage area for agricultural products, a self-sufficient economic unit, which stored fruits, vegetables, cereals, milk and so on. A mas has no windows on the north side, due to the mistral – a dramatic wind that can sweep through the area. The windows are narrow for protection against the heat during the summer or cold during the winter.
Nowadays the “mas” is often transformed into a luxury villa or cottage.
7. The colourful markets
If you enter a Provencal market, all your senses come alive. The smells, the colours, the crisp fresh bread, cheeses and Provencal tablecloths. It’s a big colourful party and social happening, where you can certainly find inspiration for your lunch or dinner.
8. The Café Culture
Early morning, on a terrace in the sun. Enjoying a café au lait and a croissant. In the afternoon enjoying a fresh salad with a baguette on a terrace in the shade of a parasol, overlooking the petanque court. In the evening enjoying a good wine and the sunset. Should I say more?
9. The local craft
The local crafts are weaving, pottery, wood and stone carving. These products are sold in the small shops of the villages. It’s a pleasure to see these authentically made items and to find that not everything is mass produced.
10. The Provencal lifestyle
Everything I have mentioned you can file under the Provencal lifestyle. Enjoying the landscape, nature, food and many lovely towns and villages makes Provence a wonderful holiday destination. I have one piece of advice: taste the true Provencal life and live like a local…
Darina Nykl lives in Holland where she works in a hospital and is an author. She blogs about the stories she is writing which are mostly set in Amsterdam, Paris, Provence and the Cote d’Azur, places that inspire her: darinanykl.com