I used to live in the south of France for quite a few years, and whenever I go back down, as I did this week, I can feel the memories of that time rushing over me like gentle waves on a Mediterranean beach.
I love life up here in Normandy, north west France. I love the green open spaces; the proximity to Paris; the beautiful architecture and gardens …. but when I arrive in the south of France my inner self opens up to the gentle living and easy going ways. On this visit I was in the haut Var, a huge area of forest and gentle slopes, north of the Cote d’Azur and well inland from the busy seaside towns of St Tropez and Cannes.
Here the old square bastide homes are made of stone, a gentle orangey beige colour. Their roofs are covered with long rounded tiles and there are shutters at the windows to keep things cool indoors when the afternoon sun gets too hot.
The Provençal markets are busy, lively places, their paths lined with temptation … piles of ripe peaches, bags of herbs, huge pots of basil and crates of deep red tomatoes at every turn.
The vegetation in the south is very different from our Normandy style. They can grow roses as we can, but also bignunias, plumbagos and bougainvilleas, that will scale a house in no time, dressing the facade in deep pinks, purples and oranges.
Meals are simple and delicious. The warm temperatures and the singing of the cigales in the trees invite us to linger at a table in the shade, making vague plans for the next day, but actually quite happy to enjoy the moment …. philosophically happy to take each day as it comes ….. que sera …