One of my very best friends moved to the South of Frace for a year when we were just 19 years old. At the time, I wasn’t much of a traveller and never did make it over to visit. It is, to date, one of my biggest life regrets. Made even more so when I stumbled upon Gert Huygaerts mini guide to Provence. If you need me, I’ll either be packing my bags, or poring through the gallery over and over.
From Gert… Last year I had the chance to be part of the wonderful Feather & Stone Photography Field Trip film photography workshop in the French Provence, one of the most lovely places in Europe!
I already read and heard a lot about the Provence, but I had never been there before. The fact that I had never been there before, was for me the reason to book a few more days at the hotel, apart from the workshop, just to get to see some of the beauty of this region. And I can assure you, I did not regret this one single moment! At the end of September, temperature still being at a very nice 25-30 degrees, it was the perfect place to get some peace of mind and see some nice things “à l’aise”.
I was staying the first days of my trip in a very cosy family-hotel called La Ripaille in the small town of Fontvieille. It was a very nice, clean and cosy hotel in the typical Provence style, with one big advantage for me… it was in the centre of the Provence, so everything I would love to see was at a small distance. For example the lovely town of Saint-Rémy de Provence was at a less than 30 minutes drive. This lovely, authentic French town showed all the beauty of its ancient history, narrow streets, lovely town squares in the shade… all you need to wander around for a couple of hours!
Something completely different and ideal to clear your mind and come to rest was the area of Le Camargue, an enormous nature resort with huge lakes, lots of birds… even pink flamingos!… and wild horses… this all with almost no-one around, just because the area is so wide-spread. It was a longer drive from where I was staying, but …also because of the nice weather… this was one of the places where I took time to sit down and relax… listen to the wind, the water …and the silence… love it!
After having my batteries charged in Le Camargue, I went to see one of the bigger cities in the Provence, Avignon. It is also a very ancient city, with a lot of different faces: the historical part, the shopping area, the industrial area, etc… It has a lot to offer, but some parts of it were also a bit confronting to… poverty was very well visible here and there… nevertheless, I think you should visit Avignon when in the Provence, as it has a lot to offer.
Something that made Marseille world-famous: soap! I couldn’t believe that this was so important for this region, but every tourist shop, grocery store, supermarket, even at the airport… they sell the Savon de Marseille. As I didn’t want to see just a shop selling this magical item, I went out to see how this soap was manufactured in the old-fashionned way! Therefor I went to see the ancient “soap factory” of Rampal Latour in Salon de Provence. Really something one should do when around… you get to know a lot about the region, the products and the history of this product.
From the 4th day, I spent almost all of my time at one of the most lovely hotels in this region: Le Hameau des Baux The Feather & Stone workshop was held in this 4 star hotel and i was worth every cent! Lovely accommodation, delicious foods, a primacies to dream dream of… really a dream come true.
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After 3 days of workshop, I promised myself one thing: I will come back to Le Provence!
Photography: Gert Huygaerts | Factory: Rampal Latour | Hotel: Le Hameau Des Baux | Hotel: La Ripaille