Travel

No summertime blues

This is the good life in Provence.
This is the good life in Provence.

SUMMER in Provence is about colour and movement at the markets, music festivals and dancing in the streets, picnics and parties in gardens and restaurants, sunflower and lavender fields, and endless green vineyards.

We've spent many summers in Provence, and this year discovered Mas du Marechal, a refurbished 18th century stone house in the village of Vers Pont du Gard within walking distance of the Pont du Gard, the 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Mas de Marechal is the perfect base to discover all of Provence.

A 10-minute drive takes you to Uzes, the last Duchy of France, where hundreds of stalls are set up in the Place aux Herbs on Saturdays with stall holders selling everything from glistening olives in wicker baskets to pottery, clothing, and, always...an endless variety of sausages, pates, terrines and cheeses.

Within an hour's drive of Vers Pont du Gard are all the Provencal icons including the hilltop villages of Bonnieux and Menerbes that Peter Mayle wrote so charmingly about in A Year in Provence.

Arles, with its stunning Roman amphitheatre is just a 45-minute drive away.

Les Baux des Provence, France's most prestigious medieval site, is just a half an hour away.

Perched on top of a rocky outcrop, it offers breathtaking views of olive groves and vineyards to the horizon.

Below Les Baux in an old dis-used bauxite quarry is Carrieres de Lumieres, a spectacular showing of giant images of famous art works beamed on the lofty quarry walls accompanied by dramatic music.

This year the show features works of Gauguin and Van Gogh.

Avignon is just a 30-minute drive away and is the walled city most known for the Palais des Papes, the grand building that was the power base of Christianity after the popes moved there from Rome in 1309.

Roussillon with its red ochre hills and charming village is an hour away and attracts artists from everywhere to sit and paint in its extraordinary light.

We toured all these places each day and then fell back into the comfort of Mas du Marachel, grateful for its wall-garden and pool.

Fully restored by keeping original features of the 18th century property, it is beautifully decorated and all of the five spacious bedrooms have their own modern bathrooms.

The Mas de Marachel.
The Mas de Marachel.

We loved the sense of village community that came with the mas.

A stroll to the patisserie each morning put us in a Provence mood. It mattered not that the owner spoke no English and our French was dismal.

We bought our baguettes and croissants easily with a merry "bonjour" and then an "au revoir".

Buying wine from the village wine cave was also conducted with plenty of miming and jovial exchanges.

You take your container and watch while the proprietor fills it up from a small vat with a pump.

The one cafe in Vers Pont du Gard presents a 'plat du jour' (dish of the day) and it quickly became a favourite.

In a tiny square surrounded by handsome stone buildings we dined extravagantly on freshly prepared meals of local produce, with wine (of course), followed by coffee and a surprise treat, all for 8.50 euros.

 

>> To read more travel stories

Gympie Times

Topics:  destinations, france, travel




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Southern Downs police crack down on drugs

NSW Police Media Highway Patrol

Drug offences keep Southern Downs police busy

Top-class polo at Downs Shield

Winners of the A Grade final at the Downs Shield Polo Tournament were the Scanlan team: Jack Mantova (Clifton), Rob Ballard (Canungra), Michael Callow (Brisbane) and Charlie Field, Beaudesert.

Action at Clifton's biggest polo annual tournament

Snapshot of a day in the life of a Darling Downs dairy

Milking in the dairy shed at El Paso Farm

Photographer shares photos of life on a Gladfield dairy

Latest deals and offers

Bennett, Langer, Thurston and others talk Cam Smith

Broncos and former QLD coach Wayne Bennett.

Broncos and former QLD coach plus past and present players talk about Cameron...

Warwick High student named as hockey nationals umpire

Interview with Warwick High student Isaac Johnson who has been named as an umpire...

Start of Pentath-run wheelchair race in Warwick

Start of Wheelchair race at Pentath-run 1500

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked