Questions We Ask About Provence

Google knows a lot about us, A LOT. We ask it billions of questions and it keeps track of every one of them, constantly tallying what we really want to know. For example, a few of the top questions that Americans asked last year were, “Where is my refund?” (tax day), “Can dogs eat apples?” (yes), and “Is Europe a country?” (time to go back to school!)

Google uses its vast database to aid us when we pose a question, using auto-fill to complete what it thinks we are going to ask. So when we type “Why is”, Google might complete our question with “the sky blue?”—another of last year’s most popular queries.

This means we can use auto-fill to find out what people really think about a subject. As an American who lives part-time in Provence, I was curious what my fellow citizens ask about this magnificent corner of the world.

Find out what I learned at Perfectly Provence!

Wines We Love in Provence

My wife Val and I live part of the year in Provence and we love all the great local wines. They come in any color you like—red, white, and pink—and range from inexpensive quaffers to bottles you’d be proud to serve to anyone.

Over time we’ve visited many of the local wineries and some of them we go back to year after year. I’ve put together a list of our favorites, all of which have nice tasting rooms and (usually) English-speaking staff. If you are looking for some tasty bottles and a fun experience, check out my recommendations at Perfectly Provence.

Book Review: A Season of Surprises by Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands is at it again! The author of the popular Love in Provence series has just published a novella, A Season of Surprises at the Villa des Violettes.

Readers are treated to a new chapter in the lives of our favorite Love in Provence characters—newlyweds Kat and Philippe, their wise neighbor Simone, Kat’s wacky friend Molly, and all the rest of the gang. Kat is opening a bed and breakfast at the Villa and preparations are frantic as the first customers are about to arrive. But then something goes terribly wrong…

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

Going to the Movies in St-Rémy

Let’s say you are staying in St-Rémy-de-Provence and expecting beautiful weather, only to discover that it’s raining buckets. Or maybe it’s one of those days that is just so hot you can’t move. What to do? Here’s an idea—go to the movies!

St-Rémy has a delightful little theater that shows first-run movies, including some in English. And there are several nearby towns with movie theaters as well. Read all about them, and how to find the English-language movies, at Perfectly Provence!

A Great Website for You

Caroline Longstaffe is a British lady who lives in California and owns a house in Provence. Talk about an international life! A few years ago she and her husband fell in love with the village of Lourmarin, one of the prettiest in France, and bought a place there.

Caroline has a website, Shutters and Sunflowers, where she writes about all things Provence. I love her wonderful photos–they make you want to be there so badly! If you haven’t seen her website before, I encourage you to check it out. I’ve included a couple of her photos here.

Caroline recently reviewed my book so I’ll include a link to that as well. As someone who, like me, splits her time between California and Provence she has a special appreciation for what each has to offer.

Here’s her website and here’s the link to her book review. Happy reading!

A Guide to the Chateaux of the Alpilles

If you’ve spent time around the Alpilles, the small mountain range near St-Rémy-de-Provence, you’ve probably spotted a medieval chateau or two. Some are hard to miss, like the one above the fortified city of Les Baux. Others are little more than piles of rubble.

The Alpilles were once dense with chateaux of all shapes and sizes. But why so many? And what happened to them? Here’s some history, plus a guide to the chateaux that you can still visit today.

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

What Did the Pont d’Avignon Originally Look Like?

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond

Many of us learned that song as kids, about the famous Pont d’Avignon in Provence. For those of us lucky enough to see the real bridge in all its glory, we are often surprised because it’s rather short—only about 100 yards long and ending partway across the Rhone River.

Much of the original Pont d’Avignon tumbled into the Rhone centuries ago, a victim of inadequate construction and poor maintenance. Today it’s hard to imagine what it looked like when it was nearly a mile long and spanned the entire river. Was it straight or curved? Was it fortified? Did it have a drawbridge in the middle?

Luckily, a group of scientists and historians has discovered what the bridge looked like and has created a full 3D model of it. There’s even a video that shows what it was like to cross from one side to the other and back!

Read all about it at The Good Life France!

The Great Wall Of Provence

When most people hear of “the Plague,” they shudder and think of the Black Death that killed so many people back in the Middle Ages. But did you know that in the 1700s an outbreak in Provence took the lives of thousands? And that the King of France teamed up with the Pope to build a great wall to stop it?

The outbreak of the Plague should never have happened, but you know how it is: someone in power was motivated by greed and let an infected ship enter Marseille. From there it spread north until the only solution was to “Build That Wall!”

Part of the wall still exists and you can visit it today. Read all about this fascinating and little-known chapter of Provence history in Perfectly Provence.

Fjords? In Provence?

An hour east of Marseille is the cute little port town of Cassis, one of the prettiest in France. And in between the two are the rugged calanques, the mini-fjords for which the region is famous. With their steep grey cliffs against the deep blue waters of the Med, they are a sight to behold. And the good news is, they are easy to get to.

From Cassis you can take a boat ride to see a few or many of the calanques, with the rides ranging in length from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. You can even hike to some of the calanques if you wear sturdy shoes. It’s a landscape like no other and not to be missed.

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

What to See and Do in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

One of the prettiest spots in Provence is the little town of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. It sits next to the Sorgue River and has lovely restaurants along the riverfront, plus some interesting museums and craft centers. But the most amazing thing is the source of the river.

Rather than a series of little streams that slowly build into a river, the Sorgue arrives fully formed, at the base of a cliff just a few hundred yards from the town. This is the “fontaine” (fountain) that gives the town its name–one  of the largest springs in the world. Waters gather deep underground and then come to the surface in a pool that spills out in a cascade and becomes the river.

Read all about it in The Good Life France!