LE TOUR 2009: Provence [& Vincent]

Well I had to leave ‘Le Tour’ for a while, a pesky inconvenience called work! I haven’t been able to tour the blog scene either so hope to catch up on that too and visit you soon ... but here is a little something I whipped up earlier!

Whilst I was gone, ‘the boys’ toured through Provence. Starting at Marseille, they took in wonderful towns such as Aix-En-Provence, St-Remy-de-Provence and Arles, before reaching their destination of La Grande-Motte. Here are some ‘postcards’ I compiled for you;

villasinfrance[5] [source – Villas In France]

My impressions of Provence were mostly derived from the media …. movies, books and advertising. Images of lavender, village markets, wicker baskets and antique linens. Back in 1993, I spent a few days travelling through there, and a place that stays firm in my memory was ‘St Paul de Vence’.

Saint Paul de Vence

It is hard to imagine that a medieval village still stands to this day. It was like walking into a book or movie set. St Paul de Vence is built high upon a hill surrounded by fortified walls built during the renaissance. The historic buildings, quaint squares, winding alleys and images of elderly men playing ‘petanque’ added to the surreal feeling. There is a slower pace to life here. A pace I think I might like! For additional information visit the St Paul De Vence tourism site [here]. I still can’t find all my travel photos, so here’s some images I found [here].

Well , two other things come to mind when I think of Provence

The food [Glorious Food] and Vincent Van Gogh.

Let’s get to the Food first! – Herbs de Provence

My first taste of ‘Galette’ came by way of lunch in a village in Provence [don’t ask me which village]. I was surprised to find pizza in France [read naive tourist – I thought it was pizza]. Delicately, crisp, thin, square slices of pastry lightly topped with potato garnished with ‘Herbes de Provence’. My tastebuds found heaven! Heaven in a slice. My only knowledge of pizza slices had been the heavily based, tomato, cheese dripping Neapolitan variety [as was most popular in Australia then]. Later, travelling through Italy, I would learn that pizza ain’t pizza. But we are in France so I will stay on topic.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Herbes de Provence’ typically contains; ‘savoury, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers’ amongst other herbs. If you live in Sydney, last time I looked, the David Jones Food Hall in market street had something similar. Go ahead… give your tastebuds an adventure! AND I found you a recipe for ‘Potato and Rosemary Galette’ [recipe found HERE]. Or another at Martha Stewart [here]. For more information on Herbs and Spices.. go to Epicentre.com [here]

1 lavendar 3

The wonderful Art of Vincent Van Gogh

Well I saved the best for last.


[Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background – source]

Vincent Van Gogh produced some of his most famous pieces whilst living in the town or Arles [think ‘Bedroom in Arles’]. It was also here where he went a little mad and cut off his own ear. Soon after he was institutionalized following a petition by townspeople, who referred to him as ‘Fou Roux’ [the redheaded madman]. If you need to be a little crazy to find the art within you, then I’m with being crazy!

The image below, ‘Starry Night’, is one of my favourites and was produced later in the town of St Remy, and of course reminds me of ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean;

Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and grey Look out on a summer’s day, with eyes that know the darkness in my soul Shadows on the hills, sketch the trees and the daffodils Catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colours on the snowy linen land

For they could not love you, but still your love was true And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry starry night You took your life as lovers often do, But I could have told you, Vincent, This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

[excerpt of lyrics – Vincent - Don McLean]

Van_Gogh_Yellow_House - Arles - wikipedia [‘Yellow House’ Vincent’s home in Arles – source]

Now Back To The Boys

Let’s see how the boys are faring after Stages 3 & 4

Firmin Lambot - won 1911 and 1913

Overall Standings After Stage 4

Standing Stage 4

[source: archive image & standings]

Where’s Cadel? Better not say!

NEXT? Well that depends on when I get a chance to post again.

Hopefully, something from Spain. Somewhere I have never been. I have the same birth day as Salvador Dali, so I might include something from him. Another eccentric artist.

If you have missed a Stage along the way, below are links to previous posts in this series.

‘Le Tour’ Post Archives:

04-07-2009: [L'Histoire] And So It Begins

05-07-2009: [Stage 1] Monaco Style & Grace

06-07-2009: [Stage 2] Cote D’Azur


Kellie Collis said...

Love the lavender!

Now question for you Julie.. What are your thoughts on Lance???

Courtney said...

Thanks for the dream-worthy 'postcards'! They were the perfect thing to get my imagination into gear first thing this morning.

Maya said...

I missed out on the "Herbes de Provence" pizza, but I remember..., we pulled into a restaurant, sat down in the garden and were being served a fantastic four course meal..., no menu to look at and choose from, it was just what was cooked that day. I love surprises like that. I think (if I have this right) Vincent never got to reap the fruit of his magnificent artistic work.

Jennifer Beaudet said...

Beautiful lavender photos. I love Van Gogh! That would be so great to visit where he was inspired! I like your blog. It lets me go places I've never been before. Sadly the only place I've been outside of US is Mexico.

abeachcottage said...

oh I miss the food so much...I miss our trips to France every summer, you can't have it all I suppose


Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Love the way you write Julie...... I think that the French Pizza thingy !!!! is called pissaldiere. I've had it quite a few times and it is delicious.
You have such lovely pictures. They really give us a feeling of the countryside that the boys are riding through. XXXX

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Kellie and Simon
I have been out of touch with the tour for a couple of days [work], but I will post some comments re Lance in the next few days. In my first tour post I mentioned he was why I first became more interested in the annual event. I see he is still in 2nd place!

Maya - yes another artist not fully recognised until after he was gone.

Thanks Everyone for your comments

simon said...

Again, a brillinat post. It brought back memories of walking through a field, and smelling the herbs as my feet "crushed" them.

I can still smell them, and feel the sun on my face... ( whilst I sit in my dingy office!)

thanks again!

Lance is less than I second behind!

Exquisite Accessories said...

Well Julie you have just made me want to jump on a plane & head straight there, I will have to add it to my things to do list before I am tooooo old. Will be passing the herb web site to my husband he has started to collect herbs to plant once are house has been built!! :)

Romana said...

I have always wanted to visit this part of the world - your images aren't helping me narrow down where to go first!! lol
Looking forward to reading more over the weekend.

Lee said...

Totally loving your Tour coverage! Can't wait to see what you have in store for the Stage 5 in Spain. Lee :)

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Hi Julie: Jackie let me know about your blog today after reading my post about the men of the tour de France. I adore your blog & have some catching up to do. I do believe I could smell the lavender thru my laptop! Thanks too for the recipes. Will have to give them a try.
All the best,

Julie said...

your posting is just wonderful as always.. Perhaps you might like to consider different work, How about travelling writer?? (smile)


Millie said...

Totally agree with CLS Julie - I reckon Susan K. @ The Australian needs to watch her step, you are only a pen stroke behind her!
Millie ^_^

Anonymous said...

I love lavender! One of my favorite flowers and the fragrance of them is heavenly. Let me guess...you're an art lover, no?
Thanks for visiting my blog. I love living by the sea. Hope you get to have your wish someday.

Carole said...

I love reading about your memories of France. It helps to bring back some of mine. It been driving me crazy that I can't remember the name of the village outside Nice... that my sort of second family lived in.It may have been Grasse. The village you describe sounds just like it.
Wonderful Post!!!