Provence, a Dazzling Blend of European Culture

Imagine this: You’re swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Calanque de Sormiou in Marseille. After, you drive with the top down through fields of lavender in Valensole. Then you get to experience a bite of just-out-of-the-oven fougasse. 

It sounds like something almost every American would want right now—a chance to travel, to feel the Mediterranean sun on our skin. And with a blend of landscapes, architecture, and culture so vast, Provence truly has something for everyone.

(Courtesy of Stefanie Vinsel Johnson)

Located in the South of France, Provence is uniquely positioned to be a cultural mix of all the Mediterranean. Roman landmarks still prevail from the 1st century A.D., alongside châteaux from medieval times—a varied legacy brightened by the indigenous mimosas and cypresses. 

Tess Baes/Courtesy of Château de Cassis

But it’s also hard to comprehend, writes Provence Glory’s (Assouline) author, François Simon. (Simon is a French scribe and food critic who spent many years writing for Le Figaro. He also contributed to GQ, Casa Brutus, and Le Monde and has written novels, where previously collaborated with Alain Ducasse on the 2001 Assouline title, The Provence of Alain Ducasse.) Simon says that it is a land “beyond borders,” one that “quivers with life.”

And he’s right. Since the region is well known for its ability to inspire, it’s home to a plethora of festivals such as Rencontre d’Arles, Festival d’Avignon, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and more, all celebrating the arts. Artists who have praised the unique Provençal light include Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso. Alexandre Dumas and Jean Giono are among the writers who were drawn to write in the shade of the plane trees. You’ll see all these (and more) in the pages of this stunning tome.

(Mona Grid, @mona.pix)

The images Assouline finds for their books are so colorful and vivid, you want to lick the pages. In Provence Glory, there are scenes of people dancing in the street, pastoral lands, and stunning architecture that makes the mind wonder what lies inside. The book is a true joy.