Our journey across Provençe had two main focuses, we were in the west and the east of the region. In the middle there is nothing different to the areas we visited, which is why I omitted those quite cheeky.
Story, Camera, Edit : Bert Schwarz
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We are also here with our caravan. Who does not want to be with tent or small camper on the way, its destination in the net before reservation should well regard and also follow up by telephone: the selection of camping sites for an for example 8 m x 2,50 m large caravan reduces itself quite fast, the ways on the beautiful, mostly terrace-shaped put on places, which are provided often with old olive tree existence, can be very narrow.
The western part lies between Aix-en-Provençe in the north, Marseille in the west and Toulon in the east. Our first accommodation was at Camping Mogador in Sanary sur-Mer, a fisherman's village with an impressive history.
The eastern part is not so clearly defined: Actually, this area is oriented towards the new Pays de Grasse, the hinterland of the city, if you will - a project rather driven by local politics - up to the border to Italy and Monaco.
Here we have our second accommodation, in Grasse on the camping LaPaoute, a really quiet place and big enough to accomodate our caravan.
We also visited the plateau of Valensole, where a large part of the lavender so important for the perfume industry comes from. So this plain near the Gorges du Verdon is not really a target area ... but I am not petty... ... ...
Whether I now drive around on the mountain pass roads, sunbathe on the beach, or tumble on the weekly markets - Provençe and the Côte d'Azur are sun-drenched and seductive.
2,000 years ago Provençe was part of the Roman Gaul and the Romans left behind fabulous monuments, constructions and buildings - not to mention some of France's first vineyards.
This region is covered with Roman remains, including an amphitheatre in Arles, a theatre in Orange, many bridges, including a very beautiful one near Bonniuex, and even whole towns near St-Rémy de Provençe and Vaison-la-Romaine. It is a large number in a collection of prehistoric sites, medieval abbeys, elegant churches and art deco houses. And so Provençe begins to feel like a living history book.
Not only the landscape of Provençe has attracted legendary painters, such as van Gogh, Cézanne and Picasso, with their hilly lavender fields, rustic villages on the hilltops, it was the light that Matisse described as «soft and tender and yet brilliant». Whether you look over the glittering sea in the sun or the fiery sunset over the hills, a trip to this corner of France feels like going straight into the canvas of an Impressionist. And with such an extensive artistic legacy, it is not surprising that this region is home to outstanding art collections, not to mention the studios where van Gogh, Cézanne and Rénoir worked.
The Provençe and the Côte d'Azur are perfect for explorers of all ages. One of the attractions of traveling in this region is to take the secondary roads to the hinterland and absorb the immense beauty and diversity. There are lavender fields, old plantations with olive trees, winding mountain roads along the slopes and snow-capped mountain peaks at the appropriate time of the year.
Here lies France's deepest gorge, the oldest road and some challenging pass roads that make the dreams of a passionate motorist come true.
And then there's the Mediterranean itself: a glistening blue mirror reflecting the rugged cliffs, white beaches and endless skies.
No matter where you go in Provençe, you will not starve. Food is one of the central things in the life of a Frenchman, but in Provençe it becomes a cultivated passion. Dominated by the sacred ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil, wine, tomatoes and garlic, food in this region is always a highlight. And you don't have to search long, small and big restaurants can be found everywhere and I met very good and terrible ones. So it is the usual mixture, where the chance to catch a bad restaurant is quite manageable. Nevertheless I found something like this and report about it elsewhere.
How You travel is a matter of taste. Very individual. Not really negotiable. And then it's the same every year: «Where we go?»
I won't go into the infinite possibilities here, you know them well enough yourself - at the latest when the offspring screams from behind from the corner (following an old commercial): «I want cows! »
To make a long story short: culture, movement, nature, ... Not to forget culinary delights become - already important, but nevertheless - accessories. The essential aspect is to get to know the country and its people. The easiest way to do this is with a caravan, because here I take care of myself, experience my own adventure unfiltered, directly and self-experienced.
At the end of a journey I can rightly say: «I know this area.» , and the people there.
I have also found in this region that which cannot be captured and framed either on screen or in photo and film files and can say: this part of France and its people I know.