I passed through France a week or two back, specifically Provence. Embarrassingly, Peter Mayle is responsible. I stumbled on one of his Provence books as I was deciding where to head after Spain and followed the “sign”. I had a perfect time there. A splendid blend of comfort and rusticness and, as always, a focus on food and hiking, in a slow, considered “This is What Life Is Meant To Be About” way. Je mange, je marche. Je pense.
What area did I go to cos Provence is rather large? Cote d’Azur…the mountains behind Nice and Cannes. The area is a wonderfully smelly place – nearby Grasse is where the book Perfume is set. Also, a psychic once told me I belonged in this mountainous area. I remembered this as I deliberated… so, Bam! That’s where I was to land.
Isn’t Cote d’Azur glitzy and bit “white chinos”? Yep, but head just an hour inland and it’s the most fabulously rustic, artistic region around (film stars, artists, poets have all converged on this area over the years).
Any tips? Hire a car so you can see different areas. And hike. Because boy are there some views! And rewarding foodie experiences on the other side.
Oh, and also… As life would have it, JUST as I set off from Spain, I was contacted by Mr and Mrs Smith*, a luxury-with-edge company that sets folk like me up with unique hotel experiences. Folk like me? Yeah, people after places that put care into their food, into providing an authentic experience with a “story”. They have a number of great properties in Provence from which to base an eating and hiking adventure.
But, now, once again, a list of highlights, should you like to follow in my hiking shoe-steps.
- I stayed at Les Rosees. Can I tell you…you should, too. And I will be again.
Not just for the authentically decorated rooms set in a 400-year-old stone homestead. Not just for the view out over the garden and lavender fields. Nor the silence. Nor the chemical-free pool.