Ten months ago we made the move from California to Provence, giving up the pressure and stress of life in the Los Angeles suburbs for a home in the countryside of Provence. Like the south of France, our blog has been a bit quiet lately. Winter was a time of hibernation. When you are accustomed to sunshine 364.5 days a year, four months of wind, rain, cold and even a bit of snow took some serious getting used to. I can’t say we ever acclimated to the winter weather, but we learned that Provence is definitely a place where the pace of life is driven by the seasons.
Provence is largely built around sunshine. It is one of the most prolific producers of agricultural products in France, and the tourism industry runs a close second. With few mountains for winter tourism, Provence lures tourists with picture perfect villages and sunshine. When the sun goes away, so do the people. Shops close up, and many people (especially expats) head to bigger cities or warmer weather. We hunkered down, warmed ourselves in front of the fireplace, and surrendered to the new experience.
Le printemps brought with it a burst of color to the monotone landscape of winter. The pink and white blossoms of the almond and cherry trees appeared first, followed by patches of yellow wildflowers growing between the rows of dormant vines, and patches of purple irises. Red poppies sprung up here and there, and then took over entire fields, and in just a couple of short weeks the leaves on the vines reappeared and the valley was soon blanketed in wash of color.
Our village of Bédoin is fortunate to have a year-round market, however in the winter the market contracts to just a few vendors in the village center. Throughout the spring the market gradually expands again, eventually taking over the entire town, until it is in full swing again in June. The fruits of spring—cherries, apricots, melons, early tomatoes--begin to appear and our meals change from soups and stews to salads, fresh fruits and grilled vegetables.
The other thing that starts appearing in the village in the spring is a constant stream of cyclists up Mont Ventoux. Since the summit is closed during the winter (due to weather conditions), when spring arrives and the snow melts, it’s game-on.
And now summer is upon us. The days are long and hot, friends and family visit. We dine under the stars, wander the shady streets of medieval villages and sip a chilly glass of rosé. And with each new season we marvel at how much this land has remained the same over the centuries, and yet how much it has changed us in such a very short time.
All photos © 2015 Ken Wallace Films LLC. All rights reserved.