Know it’s been a while since Amanda and I have written but we’ve been busy seeing so many of the sites of France. Our time in Provence has just come to an end and it was absolutely beautiful.
You hear about “The Provencial Life” a lot in the travel and health/wellness circles, but don’t really appreciate it until you’re there. If I had to draw an analogy I’d say it’s a lot like California, but with a very Mediteranian slant to things. Not a bad combination, huh?
This was our longest stay in one place too. We stayed in a single AirBNB for 2 weeks (15 days to be exact) and really enjoyed finally getting to be able to “Slow Travel” like we’d planned on all along. This was really great in a lot of ways. We felt at home, got to know a lot of the local markets (much more on that later) and really were able to get a feel for the town.
Aix-en-Provence is a small-ish size town in the region of (you guessed it) Provence, about 150,000 people in the area, but it’s very densely populated in the ‘city center’ area. I’d say it’s about 6 square miles, which doesn’t leave for a terribly large amount of space to explore. A good walk in any direction put us at the edge of town.
As always we became officianados of the parks in the area. In Aix there were 4 parks that we frequented. By far our favorite was the Parc de la Torse. Unfortunatley it was located on the opposite side of town so we were only able to get there a few times, but really enjoyed it each time we were there. It was huge, something on the order of Percy Warner Park in Nashville (say 100 acres?) with two playgrounds a river running through it, and miles of trails for running, walking, or biking. Very nice indeed.
Our favorite part about Aix (and Provence in general) was the markets and the food. With the Mediteranian sytle influence there was loads of fresh fruits, veggies, and more of an olive oil based cuisine than you may find in other parts of France where creams rule the day. For us this is really nice and keeps things very refreshing.
We had a daily farmers market that was 2 blocks from our apartments, and there you could find anything and everything under the sun. Flowers, fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, seafood straight out of the Med, and oh my God the cheese. Goat cheese is the local specialty of Provence and we must’ve tried a dozen varieties of it. Goat cheese with herb, with spices, made like Brie, soaked in Olive Oil. It was all amazing.
Although our introduction to cheese left us with more questions than answers and we’re finding that “Cheese Education” is more like French Wine education than trying to figure out whether you like white or dark meat chicken. Things like altitude, age, rainfall, temperature that year all play a factor in what the cheese tasts, looks, and feels like. Who knew, right?
As we travel through more of France I’m sure we’ll find more questions than answers when it comes to cheese, but it’s really cool to see how people view cheese as a real cuisine, not just something you put on your sandwich.
Like a lot of things with travel, the experiences we’re having are bringing up more questions than answers, which is cool. The time here has let us reflect on ourselves, our priorities, and our goals in life a lot…and if for nothing else, for that I’m really grateful.
From here it’s on to the Haute-Savoir region and the alpine town of Annecy. It’ll be completely different than Provence, but we’re excited about the change. Being only about 25km from the Swiss border there will be a lot more of those influences than the Mediteranian (i.e. Italian) influences we’ve seen in Provence.