Back Roads, Provence

This week's National Geographic focused on a back road trip through Provence (France).

Vieux-Port (Old Port)

At Easter time, 1989, I did a very similar trip, arriving in Paris, staying a few days with friends, and then taking the train down to Marseilles.

The first time I went to Marseilles was because of a book I had read about Utrillo that intrigued me as an adolescent.

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseilles

The second time was to recapture those memories, one of which was a visit to the Notre Dame de la Garde. When I visited the romantic City in the 60s as an adventurous student with a young man, we reached the top of Notre Dame, in an open platform powered by a pulley and rope, twenty odd years later, we went up by a modern conveyance.

After seeing some sights, getting pounced on by town gypsies and buying some of the loveliest silk fabric for curtains, we rented a compact, 4 speed Renault and leisurely drove through Provence back to Paris.

The trip took about two weeks and if I could do it again I'd make it four.

Arènes d'Arles

Looking back at that trip, I'd say Arles stands out as among the most memorable towns we visited. It is beautifully appointed, walkable and historical. Not only did we have van Gogh's visions in our sights, we had Roman architecture to remind us of early European conquests.

Arles Restaurant (photo courtesy Paupere Chef)

Every day was a picture postcard and each meal a savoury treat. The wine was extraordinary but so was le petit déjeuner, coffee and pastries.

Check out the Paupered Chef for wonderful recipes, food talk and travel. It's a delight.

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