How to be an Armchair Traveler: Provence

For the first time in my life, my only desire at the moment is to be an armchair traveler.

I’ve always loved to travel, to explore new places, learn about different cultures, and try to learn a new language–but right now I am very happy to travel from the comfort of my home, and discover new worlds in books. I’m an avid reader and have been all of my life. Lately, I’ve devoured the late, great, Peter Mayle’s books about Provence, starting with A Year in Provence. While the miniseries left a lot to be desired, despite the talents of John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan, there really is no need for a miniseries with Mayle’s gorgeous prose. I loved the book (and its sequels Toujours Provence and Encore Provence) and it reawakened my desire to one day go to Provence.

In the meantime, as we stick close to home for a while, I’m looking for ways to bring some of my armchair travels to our home!

French cuisine is far and away my favorite, and I love to cook (as you may have noticed from my “recipes of the week” posts), so picking up a copy of Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking is a must. Besides being a brilliant cook, reading her books feels like you are speaking with a friend, as you can see in this Guardian article.

Scent is one of the most powerful senses, and for me, one of the most evocative of other places. The scents of Provence–verbena, roses, and of course lavender–are redolent of Provence. Little things, like my favorite hand cream from L’Occitane, using lavender soap, or purchasing rose or verbena candles, are small ways to bring a little bit of France to the home.

Arts & Crafts
Besides the food, wine, and nature, Provence is justifiably famous for their beautiful crafts and vibrant colors, from fabrics to ceramics. Vallauris is particularly renowned for their pottery. While I’ll save purchasing any pieces until we travel there, you can find pieces of Vallauris pottery online at 1stdibs, Etsy, and many other places.


Other books I’ve read that feel particularly evocative of Provence and the South of France are parts of Still Life by A.S. Byatt, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol. I’m looking forward to reading The Avignon Quintet by Lawrence Durrell next. Films set in the area include favorites such as To Catch a ThiefManon des Sources, and French Kiss. We also recently re-watched the Globe Trekker episode about Provence and loved it!

I’m looking forward to continuing my armchair travels this year. Where are you looking forward to traveling?

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