One year ago, I was sipping rosé in Pignans. It still feels unbelievable. Here’s what I’m missing about my time in Provence.
1. The Food
Everything tastes better in France. Or maybe just anywhere but the US. The bread, the butter, eggs…they just taste so wholesome and delicious in France. The yogurt aisle at the grocery store was a sight to behold: two entire rows of every flavor of yogurt, none of which had corn syrup!
2. The Leisurely Life
It would seem that nobody works in Provence, seeing how full the cafes and bars are at any given hour. It’s just that the French place a high value on relaxation, whereas we think the more we work, the better we are. So not true. I try to replicate this one by frequenting the new Italian coffee place by my house.
3. The Unpretentiousness
Go to Paris and the attitude is “of course, you Americains come here to spend your money and insist that we speek Eengleesh. Bah!” but in Provence, people seemed surprised to see Americans. They were curious what we were doing there. I know Provence is popular with Americans, but we certainly didn’t run into any.
4. Speaking French
It takes me a day to get back into the groove of always-on French, but it feels good. Like a second skin. The challenges that speaking another language presents are always outweighed by the pleasure of trying to express myself in a language that I still fumble in.
5. The Color of the Light
This is more relevant along the coast, but I have always loved the color of the sky in the afternoon in the south of France. It’s just different somehow. It’s golden and beautiful.
We were in Provence for 5 weeks, and tried to balance the being a tourist part with acting like locals, but we got to see some pretty cool things. Like Chateau de la Barben, an old castle still furnished with authentic furniture. Or the bus tour we took around Marseille. Still, what we saw was a drop in the bucket.
7. Being on Travel Time
I did work while I was in Provence, but it was challenging to focus on running my company when there was a table at the cafe down the street with my name on it. It’s nice to have no other responsibilities besides soaking up the sun and culture.
8. The Roman Bath
My crazy drive to Greoux-les-Bains had a worthy payoff in the form of an afternoon in a Roman bath. I still marvel how Europeans use water therapy rather than shoving pharmaceuticals at every ailment.
We didn’t take many, but I always love the lull of trains and the fact that I’m not in charge of getting us there (other than making sure we get off at the right stop). The control freak in me is put away during a train ride.
By far, our week in Saorge eclipsed the previous 4 in Pignans and Italy. The place is magical. That’s why I’m going back this September. I can see myself retiring there, if not sooner!