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The Charming Countryside of Provence
In contrast to the grey skies of Paris and northern France, the charming region of Provence basks in bright Mediterranean sunshine most of the year. This rural area feels untouched by the modern world and has a rugged, earthy appeal.
Provence is one of nature's most vibrant works of art. The rolling hills are covered with a patchwork of small farms, olive groves, sunflowers, and lavender fields. Fragrant rosemary, sage, and thyme and other wild herbs grow here in abundance and enliven the local cuisine. In this dreamy landscape, Impressionist painters found inspiration to create vibrant works of art.
In the heart of Provence, I found traditional ambience in a Lavender field near Valensole, at the festivals of Arles and on the tree-shaded streets and outdoor cafés of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
The Lavender Mood
Escape into a dreamy bucolic landscape of olive groves, sun-drenched rolling hills, and deep purple lavender fields. With little villages nestled in the valleys and perched on rocky outcrops, The vibrant scenery near Valensole has enchanted many famous artists, including Cézanne, Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso.
Angelvin Lavender fields is one of the most reputable lavender fields in the area. Once I entered the farm, I was instantly hit by the lavender plants' sweet aromas. The paths in between the lavender plantations are free of access, which allowed me to get up close with the plants.
Ancient Ruins and Provençal Traditions in Arles
Steeped in history and drenched in sunshine, Arles has a fascinating heritage that dates back to antiquity. The town was an ancient Greek settlement and then became an important Roman colony in 46 BC. I was impressed by the UNESCO-listed monuments, including the Roman Amphitheatre and the 12th-century Eglise Saint-Trophime.
A wonderful place to discover the culture of Provence, Arles exudes traditional Provençal ambience. I enjoyed relaxing in the tree-shaded public squares, wandering the narrow pedestrian streets in the old town, and spending sunny afternoons at terraced outdoor cafés.
When I was done with wellness and relaxation, it was time for some adrenaline rush. Next on the list was Bullfighting.
The Course Camarguaise type of bullfighting involves men, called raseteurs, trying to pull ribbons off the bull’s horns. Six bulls are normally used in each show, with the most agile and prized bulls going last. The bull is tired out during lots of chases, where the raseteurs jump over barriers to escape the charging animal. Awards are given to the best bulls, raseteurs, and bull farms. Watching the whole ordeal was so fun that I decided to try my hand at the sport. But as soon as I entered the ring, scared to my guts, I just knew in that moment that this was the first and the last time I would be participating. It was all the adventure I needed on this trip.
Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from February 1888 until May 1889. As an Art lover, I followed the Van Gogh self-guided walking tour to find the scenes in Arles that this inimitable artist captured on canvas, such as the café at the Place du Forum and the garden at the Arles hospital.
Captivated by the short tour in Arles, I could understand Van Gogh to a deeper level. Van Gogh and his obsession with Provence was now evidently clear to me. The art de vivre, way of life in Provence, might be similar to the dolce vita in neighbouring Italy. But the sunny climate, slow-paced lifestyle, and rustic earthiness leave an impression like no other.
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