Twelve o'clock in the afternoon somewhere in Provence. With the last toll from the wrought-iron Campanile, the baker's wife and her husband from the junk shop appear at the door. Madame wears white apron, Monsieur blue smock. Last customers will come with a baguette in the basket and a "bon appétit!" adopted. Van and tractors rappel from the vineyards into the village. In front of the bar "Café de France" the sheet avalanche comes to a halt. Inside, men discuss their pastis glasses. They whisper in the rolling accent of the Midi about truffle espionage in British laboratories, loudly moaning against the Eurocrats in Brussels.
Longing goal of many dropouts
The village is called Lacoste and has steep wall. Lacoste means quiet days in Provence. Henry Miller reached for the pen in the "Café de France". Much later, Jane Birkin settled on the ridge, recently Marius Müller-Westernhagen. Provincial Provence is long gone - the Lubéron is also known as the 21st arrondissement of Paris. Since the Côte d'Azur is out, "tout Paris" evades the hinterland. Dropouts with the dream of lavender cultivation and sheep breeding were already there; British, Dutch and Germans with an addiction to the sun moved away.
Here Van Gogh painted his sunflowers
As a destination with the special light, Provence has a long tradition. Van Gogh rented Arles on a lousy, cold February day in 1888 and, the next morning, shivering in the Mistral, grabbed the squadron "to see another light." He found it over the sunflower fields of the Rhone Valley, like Cézanne on Montagne Ste-Victoire or Picasso in the Mougins hills: inky blue for Cézanne dawn on the sparkling sky: in the afternoons Picasso's harbor quays turn ocher yellow and old rose; Van Gogh's evenings are blood red across the Rhône.
Between the Mediterranean coast and the Alps lie landscapes as diverse as the high mountain panorama of Queyras, the ancient cultural landscapes such as Vaison-la-Romaine and Les Baux, the tablecloth rice paddies of the Camargue or the spectacular canyons such as the Gorges du Verdon.
All roads lead eventually through a trellis of cathedral-high plane trees, which ends in a village square with market, church and boulevard. You want to stay somewhere, in a hotel with soft mattresses and excellent restaurant. Good weather view from the Maritime Alps to the Mediterranean, including pine trees on the blue horizon. In the air the smell of dark green thyme and from May the best weather for flag clothes and rolled-up shirt sleeves.
"Provence" from the series Merian XL and "Provence" by ArteLimes. Useful for round travelers: "Auberge de Provence" from Droemer Knaur. Beautiful picture book: "Provence" (Stürtz / Look). Pleasantly easy holiday reading: "My year in Provence" by Peter Mayle (Knaur).
1st day: Avignon Accommodation for example in the hotel "Cloître Saint-Louis", former monastery with ultramodern decor (20, Rue du Portail Boquier, Tel. 0490275555). Centrally located the "Hotel Bristol" (44, Cours Jean Jaurès, Tel. 0490822121,). The private rooms "L'Anastasie" by Mme. Olga Manguin are located just outside a former farm on the other bank of the Rhône (for the reservation required, see the tel. 0490855594, fax 0490825940). Quite reasonably priced the "Hotel Saint Roch" with a pretty flower garden (9, Rue Paul Mérindol, Tel. 0490821863). Before dinner, a short walk to the famous Bénézet bridge. In the exhibition hall "Espace St. Bénézet" the presented multivision show gives a historical overview of the city.
Restaurant tips: "Le Bain Marie" (5, rue Pétramale), beautiful courtyard. African specialties served in the in-house "Le Woolloomooloo" on Rue des Teinturiers # 16. Must try: "Les Papalines d'Avignon", chocolates made of chocolate, sugar and a herbal liqueur, which was allegedly used in 1884 in Avignon effective against cholera. The best in the patisserie "Saresani" (19, Place Louis Pasteur).
Avignon - Moustiers, about 165 km Before departure, visit the Pope's Palace; the frescoes in the chapel of St. Jean and St. Martial, the audience halls and the study of Clement VI are particularly worth seeing. with the murals, which mainly depict hunting scenes. Perhaps a visit to the oldest pawnshop of France (Musée Mont de Piété, 6, Rue Saulces, also houses a silk museum). Especially funny in the summer: the counterpart festival "Off" during the theater festival (amateur groups, mimes and jugglers in all streets).
On the N 100 direction Apt. At Coustellet you may take a detour via the D 2 to Gordes to the Vasarely Museum and the Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque.Otherwise, on the D 106 to Lacoste, where the sentenced to death Marquis de Sade had escaped to the castle of his relatives (castle tour). On the D 109 to Bonnieux (beautiful town houses in the old town center and bakery museum in the Rue de la République). Continue on the D 943 through the Lubéron Mountains. Stop at "La Récréation" in Lourmarin, restaurant and small plates in the tearoom. Continue on the D 973 and the N 96 to Manosque, where the writer Jean Giono lived. In the library memories of the authors of many Provence books. On Saturdays worth a nice fruit and vegetable market, selling lavender and Provencal herbs. Continue on the D6 to Valensole and Riez (lavender fields, flowering in July). Then via the D 952 to Moustiers-St.Marie, many artisans and potters, as well as a faience museum. Accommodation in the hotel "La Bonne Auberge", simple, pleasant house (Route de Castellane, tel. 0492746618.
Moustiers - Vence about 133 km On the D 957 to the lake of Ste. Croix. Stop for swimming, good windsurfing. Via the D 19 and the D 71 through the Verdonschluchten. Exhausting cornering, breathtaking views. A stop at the hotel restaurant "Du Grand Canyon" is worthwhile for the panoramic view alone (Falaise des Cavaliers, Tel. 04 94769131). Continue on the D 21 to Route Napoléon (N 85) and the Faye Pass to Grasse. International Perfume Museum (8, Place du Cours). Visit of the perfumeries Molinard and Fragonard with museum, sale of reenactments of famous perfume brands. In the old town beautiful Arcadeplatz. On the D 2210 to Tourrettes-sur-Loup, typical provence village with artisan shops. Continue to Vence.
Overnight at the hotel "La Roseraie", German-French Direction, a Belle Epoque villa with garden and swimming pool (Avenue Henri Giraud, Tel. 0493580220) or in St. Paul de Vence (3.5 km): "Hotel Le Saint Paul", in the center of the medieval village, very well maintained Country house atmosphere (Tel. 0493326525, Fax 0493325294). Dinner in the Auberge des Seigneurs, Place du Frêne with Provençal specialties.
Vence - Grimaud, about 144 km A must for art lovers: visit the Fondation Maeght, exhibition house on the hill Gardettes u.a. with works by Braque, Giacometti, Mirò and Calder. On the D 36 to the coast and then to Antibes. The visit of the Picasso Museum is worthwhile, numerous works and an interesting documentation about the life of the painter. Also worth seeing is the flower market in the center of the village. Then tour of Cap d'Antibes, small beach and many magnificent villas. Then on the N7 to Cannes, shopping through the Rue d'Antibes and rest in the pastry tube, where already in the 30s an illustrious audience drank his tea, excellent cakes. From the Croisette in Cannes on the N 98 on the coast below the Estérel mountains to St. Raphael and on to St. Tropez. Strolling through the harbor, where you can see and be seen. Also of interest is the Annonciade Museum with works by artists who have painted the jet set spot here.
But if you want to stay overnight, head to the calmer bay of Cavalaire (D93), "Hotel Moulins de Paillas" (closed until May), Provençal style, private beach and swimming pool (Plage de Gigaro, La Croix-Valmer, Tel. 0494797111) , In Cavalaire (6km) small restaurants, excursion boats to the islands of Port Cros, Levant and Porquerolles (beautiful beaches, some nudist possible, car-free islands).
La Croix-Valmer - La Cadière, ca.163 km Descent into the Maures massif via the D 559 and D 61 to Grimaud. Visiting a winery is worthwhile, for example Domaine Prignon or Cave Les Vignerons de Grimaud, also worth seeing is the 11th century castle, with a beautiful view of the bay of St. Tropez. In La Garde-Freinet walk to the ruins of a medieval castle. Continue on the D 558 and the D 17 to the Thoronet Abbey, a 12th century Romanesque masterpiece. Take the D 13 and D 12 back to the Hyères coast. The best windsurfing spots of Provence: on the peninsula of Giens.
On the D 559 to Toulon. Worth seeing in the city center: Place de la Liberté with plane trees, the Fontaine de la Féderation and the Art Nouveau house Maison des Citrons. In the morning on the Cours Lafayette (except Mondays) a Provencal market. Continue to Sanary-sur-Mer, in the thirties exile for many artists (Thomas Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Franz Werfel or Joseph Roth). Through the vineyards behind Bandol (very rich red wine) on the D 559a to le Castellet, typical Provencal, medieval village. Right next to it is the well-known race track Paul Ricard. Also pretty, but much calmer is La Cadière.
Overnight: in the Hostellerie "Bérard", swimming pool, Provencal cuisine in the terrace restaurant with a beautiful view (Tel. 0494901143).
La Cadière - Marseille, approx. 50 km Before going on, buy a few bottles of Bandol wine, which can be stored well, e.g. Domaine du Paternel or Château de Fontcreuse, both Route de la Ciotat. Drive on the D 66 to the coast Les Lecques, La Ciotat and the D 559 to Cassis, from the port boat trip to the Calanques, the fjord-like bays. (You can also settle for swimming and drive back with the next boat).Still on the D 559 over the Gineste Pass to Marseille. Restored old quarter Le Panier, which adjoins the old port. Worth Seeing La Charité, former 17th century hospice and 17th century hospice, is now a cultural center with one of the most important museums of Mediterranean archeology and collections of African, Oceanic and Native American art. Also interesting is the Basilica of Saint Victor, on the opposite side of the Old Port, a crypt with evidence of early Christianity. Catacombs and caves from the 5th century. A visit to the nearby bakery "Le Four des Navettes" (136, rue Sainte) is essential after visiting the basilica. There, after a 200 year old recipe, the "Navettes", a pastry with a fine orange blossom flavor are produced. The latest favorite meeting point of the Marseilles is the Cours d'Estienne-d'Orves (restaurants and small bars). One of the former warehouses, Les Arsenaulx, has been converted into a popular bookstore with café and restaurant, which is also open on Sundays.
In the restaurant "Le Rhul" (269, Corniche Kennedy, Tel. 0491520177) try bouillabaisse. Sea view for free. Nice meeting point at the harbor: "Bar de la Marine". Commented itineraries at reasonable prices offer some taxi companies (duration 1 1/2 to 4 hours), the tickets in the tourist office (4, La Canebière, Tel. 0491519111).
Overnight: "Tonic-Hotel", directly at the fish market (43, Quai des Belges, Tel. 0491556746, the price of the room will be calculated according to the width of the beds) or very reasonably priced the "Hotel Paris" (11-15, Rue Colbert, Tel. 0491900645).
Marseille - Avignon, ca.155 km On the N8 to Aix-en-Provence, strolling over the Cours Mirabeau, bourgeois houses from the 17th and 18th century, fountains, bookstores and many cafes, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays Flower market at the Town Hall Square in the old town, visit the studio by Paul Cézanne, born in Aix. In the confectioneries of the city, the "Calisson d'Aix", a mixture of marzipan, candied melons and honey tempt. How to make these chocolates is shown during a tour of the Cygne d'Or confectionery (25, Rue Bedarrides). Provençal specialties in the shop "La Taste" (59, Rue des Cordeliers).
On the N 7 and the D 572 to Salonde-Provence (birthplace of Nostradamus Museum, 7, Rue de Nostradamus). On the N 113 to Arles (Arenas and Antique Theater). Reproductions of the painter van Gogh, who lived and worked in the city for some time, can be bought in the gallery La Rose des Vents (Rue Diderot). The epicurean specialty of the town is a sausage based on a recipe from 1655 (Saucisson d'Arles). In the center plane-covered square with small restaurants. You can dine a little bit farther outside in the "Mas de la Chapelle" (Petite Route de Tarascon), restaurant in a chapel from the 16th century.
For literary friends: via the D 17 to Fontvieille to the mill of the writer Alphonse Daudet. More down-to-earth, on the other hand, is the fine, cold-pressed olive oil sold by Henri Bellon in his oil mill (Moulin Bedarrides) in Fontvieille. The D 17 and D 5 lead into the Alpilles, a small mountain range in the Rhone Delta. Olive groves and green oak forests characterize the southern landscape. Halfway: Les Baux-de-Provence, the castle used to be the meeting place of the troubadours of the whole of Provence. Worth seeing are the old town hall, the church of St. Vincent. Return to Avignon via the D 571.