“You will understand that nature in the South cannot be painted with the palette… of the North. But by intensifying all the colours one arrives once again at quietude and harmony. There occurs in nature something similar to what happens in Wagner’s music, which, though played by a big orchestra, is nonetheless intimate….”
Van Gogh’s words, like his paintings, seem to illuminate Provence. It is a region where all sensory impressions are intense: colours in the landscape, herbal perfumes in the air, strong flavours of grenache or tapenade on the tongue. Everything is exaggerated to the point that we believe that all our life should be lived this way. Thus the insistent attraction of the South begins.
The walks during this week away are also magnificently vibrant. They cover six areas of very distinct landscapes yet taken together they portray all the diversity of western Provence. The great Montagne Saint-Victoire of Cézanne’s art, the long and exciting ridge of the Alpilles chain, the vineyards and lacy peaks of the southern Côtes du Rhône, a dramatic crossing of the Lubéron ridge, the wonderful villages of Joucas and Gordes and the Pont du Gard and Gardon river. Equally seductive are two of the great hotels of the south, the Europe in Avignon where the clients have included Napoleon and Charles Dickens and the country retreat of Le Phébus, a gourmet paradise.