It is Day Six of our World Tour and we are in the beautiful French region of Provence. France is the number one tourist destination in the world with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the French Riviera topping many bucket lists of places to see. I guess it is surprising then that we only had one puzzle from France – not even the Eiffel Tower! Oh well, that’s just how it worked out. Provence though, is also a very popular region for tourists. It has been a part of France for over 500 years, yet it still retains much of its own cultural and linguistic identity. Back during the time of the Romans it was called Provincia Romana, so you can see how it got its name. It is a predominantly rural area with lots of agricultural industries such as wine, olives and lavender. Its picturesque views, mediterranean climate and relaxed lifestyle have been a major drawcard for artists, writers and others since the nineteenth century.
It was the Romans who brought lavender to Provence and it acclimatised so well that it virtually grows wild. During the Middle Ages the locals started using lavender and by the end of the nineteenth century had begun cultivating it on lavender farms. During the 1900s they started building distilleries and now Provence produces over 170 tonnes of lavender oil every year. There is even a Lavender Festival that is held every year in mid August. I just love that rustic scene of Provence pictured above. Strolling through fields of lavender on a beautiful summer’s day – ah, peace and tranquility.
As well as the Romans, Provence has also been heavily influenced by Italian and Greek culture. Marseille, the largest city in Provence, was actually founded by the Greeks around 600 BCE, so the cuisine of Provence bears far greater similarity to the famous Mediterranean diet than to traditional French cuisine. Guess that’s how olives came to be associated with Provence too. It’s also a great wine producing area – definitely going on my bucket list then! Apparently Provence has been producing wine for over 2000 years. Rosé appears to be their specialty, although they do produce other wines too.
Good food, good wine, beautiful scenery – Provence looks like the perfect place for a relaxing holiday. You can discover more about the region here at Provence Life. Next time we will be visiting a house with a view and touching on a little family history as we continue travelling the world piece by piece.