Provence is packed full of charm. Renowned for its climate and easy living, discover 5 good reasons to explore this region.
Stroll along the Provençal towns
The small cobbled streets, the weather, the terraces, the easy living, the squares, the locals, the plane trees, the aperitif, the boules, the cicadas and the lavender all create Provence's charm. Discover the village of Saint-Remy-de-Provence, where stars and artists take refuge, Cassis and its port surrounded by good gourmet destinations, or Aubagne, following the footsteps of Marcel Pagnol.
Boules is the sport of choice in Provence! Until the beginning of the 20th century, people played the Provençal game or the long run, which consisted of throwing balls around 15-25 meters with a run-up.
In 1910, the locals of that time indulged in the Provençal game under the gaze of many onlooking citizens. One of them, Jules Hughes said ‘the black man’ suffering from rheumatism looked at them from his chair, frustrated at not being able to participate and began to shoot some balls to train himself to let time pass. His friend then proposed to him to play with them from his chair, feet within a circle traced on the ground. Thus, boules, or pétanque as it is known in French (‘pet tanca’ meaning ‘joined feet’) was born.
The ground where the event took place still exists; I advise you to go there to meet Gérard Scarsi, the president of Club Bouliste, who will be happy to tell you his many stories before offering you a small piece on this emblematic boules ground to try out some throws.
The birthplace of boules Jules Lenoir
Experience boules feet firmly planted, 13600 La Ciotat
Tel: +33 6 70 21 82 49
Discover the history of Provençal fabric
In 1648, the Provençal Indians brought these very colourful cotton fabrics from India to Marseille. In 1790, Jean Jourdan created an Indian factory, and gave birth to the Souleiado brand (meaning ‘pierced by the sun after the rain’). This former 17th-century private mansion is now home to the Souleiado factory and the Provençal fabric museum, retracing its exciting brand roots and its ancestral know-how.
Visits last between 1.5 and 2 hours. It is as if the time had stopped; we find the chemist's laboratory, the printing tables, the large oven and the wash house intact. We learn how to make the fabric and even experience the feeling of an Indian at work! With a board (board with Provençal patterns), we learn to print the pattern on a fabric.
39, rue Charles-Deméry, 13150 Tarascon
In Provence, it is rare not to see olives on one's table or olive oil on one's plate. If you are a lover of these local specialities, I recommend two places to discover all their manufacture secrets.
The company Olives Arnaud is a family business born in 1945 and producing about 800 tons of olives each year. Their know-how is truly felt in the quality of their olives, thanks to their manufacturing secret mainly due to a different debittering of olives and a very particular recipe.
ZAC du Roubian, 13150 Tarascon
Le Moulin du Calanquet has more than ten thousand feet of olives. Among the varieties are the Aglandau, the Salonenque, the Grossane, the Verdale and the Picholine. This traditional mill offers high-quality olive oils, spreads, olives, and jams... Anne offers you a tasting, while she tells you the story of this mill that she opened with her brother. You are bound to enjoy yourselves!
Moulin du Calanquet
Vieux chemin d'Arles, 13210 Saint-Rémy de Provence
Have an aperitif
In Provence, the aperitif is sacred! The rosé and the pastis are the stars of the patios, to be savoured with olives, anchovies, French fougasse bread, salami or cheese. If you prefer alcohol-free drinks, ask for a Gambetta Lime (lemonade and plant syrup) or a Pac à l'eau (lemon drink). To learn more about local drinks, discover two must-see sites.
Le Clos Sainte Magdeleine is a family property that extends over nearly twenty hectares. The property produces four grape varieties sustainably farmed and holds the certification of ‘controlled designation of origin’ since 1936. The visit to the estate is followed by a visit of the cellars, as well as a tasting of different wines.
Clos Sainte Magdeleine
Avenue du Revestel, 13260 Cassis
Guillaume Ferroni lives at the Château des Creissauds, a passionate winemaker, who has become a liquor-maker. He currently produces exceptional pastis with his own plants. During the visit, he explains to us the history of pastis and shows us his plants and distillation process. Always on the lookout for new partnerships, he is constantly trying out new experiences. The visit ends with a tasting and a small smelling test.
Château des Creissaud, 13400 Aubagne