The Colours of Provence

Let me start by saying that my husband & I both hate grey! It’s a colour that we’ve never really got on with …… I’m sorry as I know lots of people love it when the skies are a monochrome slab of grey cloud, encouraging fires to be lit and giving rise to ideas of cosy afternoons in or taking a gentle dog walk to a cafΓ© for cake and hot chocolate. We understand it, we really do, but it just isn’t for us. We find ourselves constantly yearning for colour and even a clarity of light that makes our eyes hurt. Happily that’s something we find in Provence (even in the depths of Winter when the skies can be simply grey).

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Even on a grey day Gordes is stunning

The colours are so vivid throughout the year and there is always something to catch your eye and make your heart sing. It’s easy to see why so many artists have been drawn to the area over the years and why so many of the world’s most recognised paintings come from the area.

At school we learnt the colours of the rainbow through the simple rhymeRichard Of York Gained Battles In Vain’ so I thought that would be a good place to start to run through some of my favourites in Provence.
Red

Where better to start than with the poppies that fill the verges and fields in May? They are so vibrant and really bring a dramatic splash of colour to the landscape. There was a time when fields were sprayed and the poppies were fewer and farther between, but now you regularly see fields that are simply a mass of red and they really are quite spectacular

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Poppies below Lacoste

Then of course there are the strawberries and cherries, with nearby Venasque being at the heart of the orchards of ‘les diamants rouges’……..

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Red Diamonds – cherries near Venasque

and of course the tomatoes, from the small to the huge, meaty and delicious ‘Coeur de boeuf’

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Tomatoes in so many different shades of red (and green)

Orange

I couldn’t do orange without mentioning Roussillon and its ochre cliffs. It is a real favourite of mine, bringing a dramatic injection of colour. It’s simply the colour of summer, with its painted houses glowing brightly, even on the dullest of days. The cliffs and earth shift in colour from a russet red to sunny yellow, but the predominant colour is orange, staining your skin and shoes whenever you come into contact with it (tip – don’t walk the trail in white shoes)……

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The wonderful colours of Roussillon

Then in Winter the market stalls are filled with citrus fruits from the Cote D’Azur and Corsica – not the perfectly formed fruits we find, wrapped in plastic, in the supermarkets, but large, uneven, sometimes lumpy fruits that squirt juice the minute you try to peel them. Slightly messy, but simply delicious ……

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Fresh oranges in the Winter market

And also the bright gourds and squashes, which make either delicious soups or great decoration!

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Gourds at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue

Yellow

From mid January there are always large buckets at the flower stalls filled with bunches of sweet-scented Mimosa and you can follow the Mimosa Route from Bormes-les-Mimosas to Grasse ( http://routedumimosa.com/fr/ ) surely a perfect way to welcome in the New Year. This really dies feel like the first sign of Spring & the colour lightens even the darkest of Winter evenings.

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Mimosa really brings the sun in the depths of Winter

This has to be the Sunflowers. So often in films you will see a Citroen 2CV being driven along a French road edged by sunflowers and happily, in this case, fiction mirrors reality. The sunflower season never seems to last very long, but the sight of the flowers, twisting to keep track of the sun is a delight and always brings a smile to my face.

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Sunflowers near Saignon – all they need is a smile!

Then there are the golden courgette flowers, sold in the markets in early summer to be dipped in batter and fried. I must admit I wasn’t too sure what they would be like and bought some for the first time last summer – I can honestly say they were delicious – so I have a feeling they’ll become a regular treat this year.
Green

In the height of summer the heat tends to drain some of the colour from the trees, but in Spring the new leaves bring a freshness to the valley. Who would imagine that there are so many different shades of green, from the bright new foliage on the shooting vines to the subtle shades of newly sprouting lavender. It’s such a wonderful time.

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Early season & the silvery green shoots are starting to appear on the lavender

There is also the weed that grows in the river at Fontaine de Vaucluse, not dull & slimy, but a bright green weed that seems to thrive in the clear, cold waters of the Sorgue river that emerges from the base of the sheer rock-face above the village.

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Bright green river weed (and Miss Daisy) at Fontaine de Vaucluse

Blue

The first thing that always come to mind is the sky, what else could it be? From the pale shades as the sun comes up……..

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Sunrise near Caseneuve

to the intense cerulean blue above the heat-haze at the summit of Mont Ventoux…….

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Mid- November cycle to the summit of Ventoux

or the softer, deeper shades as the sun sets again.

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Sky blue pink of the evening over the Mourre Negre

I can’t think of a colour I like more!
Indigo

This always brings to mind the night skies, which can be seen really clearly, thanks to the lack of light pollution in the area away from the main towns. It’s easy to see what inspired Van Gogh to paint ‘Starry Night’ when he was in the Asylum at nearby St Remy. The small village of Vacheres, a short distance from us, is classified as a ‘starry village’, in the same way as others are classified as ‘floral villages’, thanks to the clarity of the night sky there.

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Where better to see the night sky than Vacheres, a 4 star venue!

Then there are the Figs, with their deep purple skins, which fill the markets in July and August. Last year the fruits seemed to be smaller than I have seen in previous years, but a simple breakfast of fresh ripe figs and yogurt, or a light lunch of figs and goats cheese (in my mind) can’t be beaten!

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The ‘feted’ local ‘Noire de Caromb’ Figs

Violet

There are so many violet coloured flowers that I love, but Lavender has to top the list! When you think of Provence, one of the first things that comes to mind is Lavender and it must be one of its biggest agricultural products. Last year was the first time we have been able to spend time in Provence at the height of the lavender season, when the fields are purple and bright patches of colour can be seen from every vantage point. The sight (and scent) is incredible and I can’t recommend it enough. Not only are the flowers beautiful, but the essential oil has so many uses and is now a standard part of our cleaning and first aid boxes!

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Patchwork of lavender fields from Vacheres

Then there are also the irises (another Van Gogh favourite)…….

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Purple Irises – simply beautiful

And of course the Wisteria, which flowers about 6 weeks earlier in Provence than at home ( which suits me perfectly as if I time my trips properly I get to see these spectacular blooms for a very extended period of time!)

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Wisteria rambling through a hedge near L’Isle Sur La Sorgue

Yes I know there are grey days in Provence and it does rain too, but somehow the colours are always there to brighten even the dullest of days and it doesn’t matter how much time I spend there I dont think I will ever tire of it!

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A sunny, bright & colourful breakfast spot at Oppede Le Vieux

Shared via #MondayEscapes linkup

Tin Box Traveller

Shared via #FarawayFiles linkup via http://www.fifiandhop.com

hared via the #AllAboutFrance monthly linkup on Lou Messug blog

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36 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer Dealtry says:

    What a fantastic article, sums up Provence so well!!

    1. Thanks – that’s really kind – it is such a stunning place & always makes my heart sing πŸ™‚

  2. bavariansojourn says:

    Loved this, what a creative post! Provence is just so gorgeous! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks – it is an incredible place & we just can’t get enough of it! #farawayfiles

  3. Clare Thomson says:

    Absolutely LOVE this post. You’ve brightened up my day, that’s for sure, and made me long to visit Provence again. I hadn’t appreciated that the vivid yellow mimosas bloomed in winter. What a wonderful way to start the new year. A fantastic share for #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks – I’m so pleased it brightened your day – it never fails to brighten ours πŸ™‚ – the Mimosa is so bright in the dark days of January it’s just a delight. Pleased you enjoyed it #farawayfiles

  4. Hilary says:

    Beautiful photos! I love poppies! I’ve never been to Provence, but I obviously need to remedy that! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks – they are lovely & well worth seeing……You really do need to find an opportunity to visit! #farawayfiles

  5. The sunflowers are my favorite! A rainbow of fruit flavors in this post – thanks for sharing #FarawayFiles, Erin

  6. Phoebe says:

    What a brilliant way of summarising Provence. I’ve just been over your way (ish) and saw wonderful poppy fields and I’m hoping to go back again in a couple of weeks for more lavender. We have all these colours over in our eastern pat of Provence too and I agree with you that grey is draining. Colour is good! Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

    1. Thanks – we all need a bit of colour in our lives! Even the photos just brighten the darkest of days! Give me a shout if you come over our way for the lavender – it would be great to meet you xx #AllAboutFrance

  7. emilycommander says:

    I have a friend here who comes from Provence and she says she misses the blue of the sky there. This has always baffled me, as to a Brit the Lyon sky seems impossibly blue. But I see what she means now. #AllAboutFrance

    1. It is incredible- you certainly never need a filter & it never fails to lift my heart – thanks #AllAboutFrance

  8. Wonderfully creative – and beautiful pictures. Well done! #allaboutfrance

    1. Thanks – it’s the pictures that keep me going in between visits. My hubby is over there at the moment so I’m living it vicariously through his photos & today was the first one of the lavender starting to flower – just can’t wait to get back! Thanks again #AllAboutFrance

  9. lejardinperdu says:

    I love your post. Thank you for brightening up what is a very grey day here in La Correze! #AllAboutFrance

    1. Thanks that’s really kind – we all need a bit of colour in our lives – mind you your garden is good for that too xx

  10. Beautiful pictures and what a wonderful idea for a blog post! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks – the colours are just so vibrant & make my heart sing – so pleased you enjoyed it #AllAboutFrance

  11. I too am a child who loves the rainbow! I hate black and grey! Am always looking for the most colorful towns and my clothes are always quite colorful! Love the wisteria and sunflowers the most! #FarawayFiles

    1. I can’t help but yearn for colour & Provence is our go-to place – I adore Wisteria & we have one starting to grow across our terrace there but I have a feeling it will be many years before we have more than just a few flowers! #FarawayFiles

  12. ushasita says:

    Amazing post, such wonderful way of representing the place in colours. Enjoyed reading the blog. #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks – I’m so pleased you enjoyed it – the colours there are so vibrant they just lighten my mood whenever we arrive. #FarawayFiles

  13. Ruth says:

    I am with you! I do not like gray days that much. My husband loves them. Well, we live in Southern California where sunny days are the norm. We hardly get gray days in here. I am glad you have found your happy place in Provence. Everything looks lovely in there. #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks – it is lovely & happily we both prefer the light days to the rainy ones, which works out well for us both. Southern California must rarely see a grey day, so I can almost understand the novelty when they do come #FarawayFiles

  14. Provence sounds like a place I’d like to visit! With nearly all the colours of the rainbow shown it looks happy, vibrant and delightful! Who wouldn’t want to visit somewhere like that?! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks – I’m pleased you like the sound of it & that I have somehow managed to do it justice. It is a really great place, full of colour & life and well worth a visit in any season #FarawayFiles

  15. fifi + hop says:

    What a great post! Loved this! I’m so curious about the flowers that are fried and then eaten..would love to try one though they seem too pretty to consume! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    1. The courgette (zucchini) flowers are delicious, stuffed with cheese and unstuffed too – just a light batter needed & they are perfect for a light lunch or start to a meal – the market stalls & even supermarkets have them from the early summer so are a quick & easy treat #FarawayFiles

  16. Funny mnemonic device to remember the rainbow – have never heard that one! We used Roy G. Biv in the States! Loved this post – great idea and so many beautiful colors to fill up your buckets in Provence. I’m definitely a sucker for those heirloom tomatoes (don’t get those here in Denmark!) and the sunflowers. Ahhhhh. So happy. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks – it’s funny how mnemonic devices stay with you for so long – I suppose it just shows how well they work in helping you remember things! I’m pleased you enjoyed the post – the colours in Provence just lift my heart & the heirloom tomatoes taste as good as they look #FarawayFiles

  17. With a red colour like that up top, I just had to hit it! Love the sunflowers! Among my favourite flowers. #mondayescapes

    1. Thanks – the colours are just so vivid – for me though it’s the purples that get me – Wisteria & Lavender are my favourites #MondayEscapes

  18. Esther says:

    I have never quite made it to Province, but yes those colours look amazing. No wonder so many painters were once (and now) attracted to Province.
    #mondayescapes

    1. Thanks – the colours are so vivid & just make my heart sing whenever I see them – the art in the area really does reflect the colour & light too and I wish I could buy more #MondayEscapes

  19. I really do love the way you’ve set this out with all the separate colours. Really enjoyed the post. Thanks for linking to MOnday Escapes

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