In the old days in Provence, flocks of sheep were marched hundreds of miles, to cool mountain pastures, where they would graze during the hot summer months. They passed through village after village in what was called the transhumance, and all the villagers would come out to watch the spectacle.
In the 1960s and 70s, the transhumance faded away as shepherds began to transport their flocks by truck, but then towns like St-Rémy-de-Provence revived the tradition with annual festivals. Held every year on Whit Monday, the modern transhumance features thousands of sheep circling the town, along with shepherds, sheepdogs and the occasional goat. It is like a river of sheet flowing past, a sight not to be forgotten!
Read all about this link to the Provençal past in The Good Life France.
My wife Val and I spend every spring in St-Rémy-de-Provence. One year we received a “French lesson” we weren’t expecting: what happens when your car is broken into. It’s funnier than you think!
This story is adapted from my upcoming book Are We French Yet? You can read the rest of the story at My French Life.
St Rémy de Provence is where my wife and I live part of the year and it’s one of the most charming towns in Provence. Nestled at the foot of the Alpilles Mountains and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, it’s a great place to spend a few days. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite things to do while you’re in town.
You can read all about it at Perfectly Provence.
France is a country with a lot of traditions, and some of the best come from Provence. You may have seen people there playing pétanque, or heard the story about Saint Martha and the Tarasque. But how about the Blessing of the Truffles? Or the young men in their tight white pants? And don’t forget the great sheep migration!
Read all about these and other fun traditions at Frenchly.
Provence is famous for clear blue skies. Its brilliant sunlight has attracted painters such as Cezanne and Matisse as well as scads of tourists. There are plenty of things to see outdoors in Provence, like the colorful ochre mines of Roussillon and the lavender fields of Sault. But what if you happen to visit when the weather is not so great, like it has been this spring? Can you still enjoy Provence in the rain?
Yes ! Read all about how to enjoy a rainy day in Provence at The Good Life France.
One of my favorite restaurants in St.-Rémy-de-Provence is L’Aile ou la Cuisse. The food is great and the setting is beautiful, right in the middle of the old town. Best of all is the gigantic display case where you pick your dessert. It’s like Christmas every day!
You can read all about this fun restaurant at Perfectly Provence.
Despite having deep Catholic roots, France has the third-largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States. Jewish communities have existed in the country since the first century and it has long been a center of Jewish learning.
You might think that Paris, with its famous Marais neighborhood, is the center of French Jewish life. And while that is true today, it hasn’t always been. For centuries, it was Provence.
Read more about Jewish history in Provence at Frenchly.
Have you ever seen a mysterious red license plate on a French car and wondered what it meant? Was the driver a diplomat? A military officer? A French James Bond saving the world from an evil genius?
No, the car was from the French Buyback Lease program. If you need to rent a car in Europe for more than a few weeks, this may the way to go. You get a brand new car with 100% insurance for less than the price of a normal rental.
Find out all about it at The Good Life France (page 106.)
This past spring I had the pleasure of meeting Janice Chung in Provence. Jan runs the great website France Travel Tips, with information about things to see and do all over the country. I love reading her stories about hidden corners of France that most tourists never see. An example is this story about sculptured seaside rocks in Brittany.
If you aren’t already a subscriber to Jan’s website, you should be!
One of the most impressive sites in France is Carcassonne, a beautifully preserved medieval fortress and one that is still imposing today. For anyone who has seen the mighty walls of la Cité, it is easy to understand that it was once considered impregnable.
In the mountains nearby are the Five Sons of Carcassonne, mighty fortresses that once protected the French border with Spain. They are an easy day trip from Carcassonne and definitely worth a visit.
You can read more about the Five Sons at A French Collection.