Tag: Provence

Sunday set: Provence postcards

Summertime …

From the ragged and rocky shoreline of the Côte d’Azur to nearby high plateaus and pre-alpine canyons, the Provence has always been on the European travel A-list. Yes, the big resort towns are overcrowded and overpriced, but there are plenty of quiet, hidden shoreline coves where you can enjoy a swim away from the maddening beach crowds, and there’s also plenty of “backcountry” just a few miles from the main tourist strips. 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Morning photo: Market colors

Ahhh, Provence!

Even in mid-November, the markets of southern France were bustling with vendors and shoppers all jostling over a fine selection of goodies for those pre-holiday season meals. Its not all that far from the Provence to areas where certain types of produce can grow nearly all year round, and the tangerines from North Africa were among the best I’ve ever had, while other market stalls feature more local and seasonal fruits and veggies like persimmons. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a market day in France without a slice of fresh-baked apple tart.

Morning photo: Cotignac

Provence light

A short flashback to a day trip to Cotignac, one of the classic hill towns in the Provence region of France, with cliff dwellings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. There was a quietness in the air in late November when we stopped by, with not a tourist (except us) in sight. It’s the first time I’ve visited the area in the autumn, and the light was just as magical as any other time of year.

Morning photo: Vive la France!

Unbowed

Our Europe sojourn included a side trip to visit family in southern France, and our arrival coincided with the murderous terrorist attacks in Paris, which left the country shaken but unbowed. Though far from the carnage, the people in Brignoles felt the pain of their countrymen. Saturday morning coffee talk at the cafés around Place Caramy was more hushed than usual, as locals and visitors gathered around newspapers and televisions to try and learn as much as possible about the events of the preceding night, while declaring solidarity with compatriots in the capital city. In Paris, Saturday brought a show of defiance from French citizens around the country, as they crowded into cafés and restaurants to show the world that they’re not afraid.

Morning photo: Sunday set

Provence light …

As a photographer, you can find good light almost anywhere in the world. But add in the charm of old, warmly painted buildings, the gleam of freshly washed cobblestones or the glow of evening streetlights in an ancient Provençal village, and it becomes pure magic. The small town of Brignoles isn’t a big tourist hotspot like nearby Aix en Provence, but it’s a great spot to hide out for a few days and settle into the rhythm of French life — early morning walks to a bakery for fresh baguettes and croissants, a mid-day Pastis under the awning, and an evening dance in the main square.

Morning photo: Just another pizza shop

French countryside

DENVER — With a little extra time between trains, I decided to walk the two miles between Gare du Lyon and Gare de l’Est, the two big international railway stations in Paris. The stroll, of course, leads past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Place de la Bastille and the Sacre Coeur Basilica, but what I like best is just walking along the broad boulevards, jumbled with cafes, moped shops, E-bike charging stations and, in one spot, a beautiful little pocket park with an outdoor pingpong table, players lining up to challenge the victor of the previous game. The city has calmed its traffic considerably in the past 10 years, so instead of choking on exhaust fumes and being deafened by an onslaught of noisy traffic, it’s now much more pleasant to get around on foot in this world city. The old Citroën 2CV is another classic French icon, so when I saw one along the rim road of the Gorge du Verdon, I couldn’t resist snapping a quick shot. You don’t see to many of them any more.

Morning photo: Window seat!

‘Not all who wander are lost’

FRISCO —This summer’s trip has been a little different so far. I’m missing my travel companions, Leigh and Dylan, with whom I’ve shared some amazing adventures all over the world the past few years. For the first time in a while, I left Colorado by myself to join part of my family in Linz, Austria, where my mom grew up. A big part of this trip was to be there to accompany mom’s sister, my aunt Erika, safely back from Austria to her home in France. She and her husband Pierre were inveterate travelers, but both are in their 90s now, so it’s not always easy for them to get around. But we made it safely, even during a pretty extreme mid-summer heatwave and are now enjoying a cool glass of rosé from a family vineyard on the patio of their 200-year old house. I’m brushing up on my French and enjoying just being with two people who have seen so much in their lives, and who radiate contentment and calm.