Lavender, wine and landscape - a trip abroad and around The Provence, France's famous landscape

by Magnus Bosse and Isabelle Zingg , September 30th, 2003

1. Introduction
The Provence - what do you commonly think of if you hear that word? Yes, Lavender, the well-known, intense DUFT, and of course Frommage de Chévre, a cheese made of ZIEGEN milk, also quite intense an not always everyone's gout, and last but not least: landscape and light! None of them is false, but none of them can catch the fascination of these LANDSTRICH comprised of the districts (from east ot west, from south to north) Var, Bouches Du Rhône, Alpes De Haute Provence, Vaucluse and Hautes Alpes (see illustration below).

With the next pages we want to give you an intense impression about this land, and we tried to avoid the AUSGEFAHRENEN touristic routes as much as possible. We followed our own noses, which always are looking for the authentic and special. Our trips are not always convenient, but we think we did our best to give you tipps enough to allow your to follow your own judgement.

We will give our our own, personal and not at all objective view, and while reading this pages you will clearly detect our tastes. So please take all our suggestions with a grain of salt, but feel encuraged to follow our footsteps. All the chambres des hôtes (which is the french equivalent to bed & breakfast, a way to stay we could suggest to all who want to look behind the scenes and learn more about country and people!), all the restaurants and tipps reflect our own lifestyle, but we think they can stand the test ot time and other people.

We began our tour in St. Raphaël at the Côte d'Azur (1), went then over to Le-Plan-de-la-Tour in the district Var (2, not really in the Provence, but very close by), paid shorter stays in Aix-en-Provence (3) and in Roussillon (4), and finally almost settled in Villeneuve-Les-Avignons (5). From there we finally went home.

Before we start, we want to provide you with some basic trips:

(i) Places to stay:

Although we tried to cover several ECKEN in the Provence, we could of course not cover all. So if you want to visit a different area not described here, we want to encurage you to take a look at the 'Guide De Charme' a guide to the romantic and scenic chambres des hôtes and hotels, without beeing touristic in any common way. We found the descriptions and the selections to be very reliable, although only in French.

(ii) Driving:

The French have an unusual and - to our judgement - very dangerous way of driving: always at the limit, be it your own's of that of your machine. Do not try to do it like them, drive the way you feel safe. The French are fast and RISIKOREICH, but they accept that you are a foreigner and tread you with respect. Due to the plenty of GEBIRGIG paths, we would suggest to hire a car with both, a Diesel engine (Diesel or gazole is about 1/4 cheaper the normal gas) and an automatic gearbox. After only 2 days of constantly switching between the 2nd and the 5th GANG my left arm was really aching!

(iii) Food:

The Provence is well known for olives, ZIEGEN cheese and local rural dishes like Osso Buco (which IS XXX). We strongly recommend to look for restaurants which serve 'cuisine provênçale', the local dishes of the Provence. The chefs wa not be that familiar with international dishes, so you may be disappointed. And of course, it always brighten your view and the experience of your trip if you taste the local kitchen.

When you are in a mood for a picnic, the same rules basically apply. We always did not buy our SPEISEN in the big supermarkets like Carrefour or Intermarché, instead, we bought bread at the boulanger artisanal (a local baker working in a HANDWERKLICHEN way using local ingrediences, and our meat and AUFSCHNITT at the boucher artisanal (same classification as for the baker). Often, small TANTE EMMA shops like Pétit Casino offer local fresh food (despite being part of a bigger chain), and are always worth a visit. All these shops can be found in almost every village and offer convenient opening hours.

So now, please follow us on our trip of XXXkm around the Provence.


include maps of France and the Provence

Visit at Lord Arran's villa in St. Raphaël:

The first station of our trip started with a visit at Lord Arran's 'Villla Toscana' in St. Raphaël, which is located at the Côte d'Azur, in the east of the Provence. Lord Arran is, as we expect to know, the spritus rector of the most complicated wristwatch of the world, the Piguet/Muller/Gerber ultracomplicated watch I had the pleasure to present a few weeks ago.

Lord Arran is a most fascinating, entertaining and SPLENDID host one could whish for. After I asked him whether he has some tipps for our tour (of course assuming he has more than time allows ;-)), he called me and invited me and Isabelle for a short stay in St. Raphaël.

His 'Villla Toscana' features everything one could whish for to call one's - luxury - life: a pool, heated to about 30°C, all rooms with air-conditions, electric STOREN, you name it! The interior is almost completly white, the exclusively equipped kitchen offers a spectacular view on the Côte d'Azur (which star-AUSGEZEICHNETER chef wold not love to create a meal here!), and wherever you look: all the ARMATUREN are made of gold! Outside, two top-of-the-class Mercedes Benz are waiting for drive you to a mouth-watering dinner: A Mercedes 500 and a pure 12 cylinder 600!

I think the pictures speak or themselves. We think you you would believe that this is a 'once in your lifetime' experience!

Multiple pics of the 'Villla Toskana'

Among all these unbelievable goods you find Lord Arran, never tired of explaining everything even a third time. He is a most generous host, and he never allows you to pay anything on your own. And, he is a very good opera singer, as we could learn!

In the next pages, we invite you to a trip in the middle of an area which was this year a victim of horrible WALDBRANDE (you may have heard about the in the news), the Côte Du Provence in the district Var, more precisely, the area around Le-Plan-de-la-Tour.

Pic of Lord Arran     Pic of Lord Arran

The Introduction and Lord Arran's 'Villa Toskana'