re-visiting the south of France ….

by Sharon Santoni


the winding streets of the south of france

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.

sunshine on the facade of a french house

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.

old bastide, the traditional square homes of the south of France

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.

shutters and tiles of the south of france

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.

herbs for sale at the market

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.

house facade in french village

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 …

cheese and grapes at the end of the meal


Lorrie July 30, 2014 - 8:53 pm

A lovely lifestyle.

Ana July 30, 2014 - 9:02 pm

I almost can smell the flowers and feel the heat!
Lovely photos,it’s far more relaxing and beautiful then the coast in my opinion.
Love stone houses with beautiful shutters and roofs.
Thanks for sharing!

Katherine Leighty July 30, 2014 - 9:06 pm

Definitely well written Sharon…I certainly got the ease and your wistfulness of times past in a place that will always feel like home! I also got a great feel for the area itself and lifestyle! Lovely! So much antiquity that you just don’t get where I live in the U.S. but I spent years away from my home, I am back but I know that wistfulness…I spent most my youth here, now to spend the years remaining! Well done Sharon! Things change and so have I!

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon July 30, 2014 - 9:07 pm

Thanks for sharing with us Sharon. It all looks and sounds so lovely.


Karena July 30, 2014 - 9:11 pm

I haven’t been Sharon and it looks so dreamy! Thank you for sharing this wonder!

The Arts by Karena

Deborah July 30, 2014 - 9:25 pm

So beautiful, beyond words!
Sharon, thank you for sharing.

StitchinSweetSue July 30, 2014 - 9:30 pm

Lovely post Sharon, surely a wonderful few days to spice up the summer. Here in N.Y. the weather has been so cool that the urge to bake a few sweet treats has taken over, the kitchen smells almost Fall-like. Hoping the rest of your Summer is enjoyable. Enjoying your posts and lovely pics as always, thx for sharing:)

cwirth July 30, 2014 - 9:35 pm

sigh….someday when my ship comes in…

Linda July 30, 2014 - 9:39 pm

I so enjoyed watching the Tour de France, especially the quaint little towns and picturesque countryside. And, looking at your beautiful photography almost makes me feel as though I’m back there…BTW is the chateau at Fontainbleu still as beautiful as ever? We visited several while we were there but that was always my favorite.

Colleen Taylor July 30, 2014 - 9:59 pm

I’ve not been but your photos transform me longingly there. So beautiful, restful & thoroughly charming it must be. Thanks for taking me away for a bit here today Sharon.

Maria July 30, 2014 - 10:39 pm

Thanks for the lovely Pictures!. So, hard to choose!. Both places are amazing! I like them both.

Janice July 30, 2014 - 11:26 pm

I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Provence and Paris. Everything you say is so true. I love the architecture, the magnificent coastline, the vibrant markets, those pretty fields of sunflowers. I even saw the Tour de France go through Saint Rémy de Provence. That was definitely a highlight. I love the way the French celebrate life.

Sandra Lambiotte July 30, 2014 - 11:42 pm

Thank you – such beauty!

Susan July 31, 2014 - 12:36 am

Heaven on earth. Wish I was there. Thanks for sharing.

ann hodgkins July 31, 2014 - 12:59 am

Beautiful, relaxing photos.Have not been to any part of France so far that I did not enjoy.
Paris, Provence,Loire,Nice. Each is special in its own way as are the people.Still have many more places in France visit before my traveling days are over.!The memories are forever.
Thank you for sharing.

Libby July 31, 2014 - 2:09 am

I am longing for Provence! I won’t be going this year so I dream about the villages, smell the lavender, and hear the cicadas in my mind. So many wonderful thoughts and memories. I can’t possibly get enough….so keep posting!

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Botanic Bleu July 31, 2014 - 2:54 am

What a lovely relaxing holiday with your girls, the French way. Enjoying the day and ending it with a leisurely meal. I am missing France and looking forward to another visit.


Doré @BurlapLuxe July 31, 2014 - 6:36 am

What a dream weekend, as for the rustic historical beauty, I so long to live this lifestyle 🙂
Someday perhaps?
It must have tugged at your soul leaving you winded for words to return to its grace and beauty, the simpler way of French living.
The shutters are so my style, and I want to reproduce the, on every windo of my home.
Thank you dear for such a beautiful visit.


Marian from UK July 31, 2014 - 7:55 am

Beautiful descriptions Sharon and fabulous photos. Can you tell us the names of the villages where you took them? I have only been to Paris and long to visit not only Normandy, but the Provence region. But not the most known places, rather the little known villages and towns. It’s on my bucket list! Meanwhile, your post will keep the dream alive! Have a wonderful visit and if you can, please share more photos!

Lauren July 31, 2014 - 7:59 am

These photo’s bring back so many happy memories for me. I lived in France for two years and loved Provence

camille July 31, 2014 - 8:32 am

Hi Sharon,

Your work is amazing and you clearly know how to present it.
I love the way you see the French Country. It looks like Paradise on your photos.
I wish you the best!


Marianne July 31, 2014 - 9:15 am

Love the photos. Just as I would imagine. Hope that I will be able to see it soon. Thank you for sharing.

Laura Wilson July 31, 2014 - 11:11 am

This was a beautiful post. We rented a house in the South of France one year and it was as you said, slow and hot, delicious and dreamy.

Ewa July 31, 2014 - 5:00 pm

Every time when I read your blog, I feel the same – the freshness of the countryside. I live in the village but I study in the big city in the west of Poland and when I’m too long far away from my home I can’t breath. Thanks to your posts I can move to this better (of course for me) land.
By the way I always dreamed about living in Paris (young girl’s dream) but now I’m full of questions – maybe in the countryside would be better.

I wish you the best.


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Peggy Braswell July 31, 2014 - 7:02 pm

wow the photos are smashing + one year a dear friend rented a house in the south of France + great time was had by all.

Linda August 1, 2014 - 2:07 am

These photos bring me back to three visits to the South of France. I love the small towns and villages and am drawn to the way of life there. So refreshing, after the hustle and bustle of work-a-day life here in the US. I look forward to another visit – maybe in 2015.

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