Summer in Provence turns travellers into pleasure-seekers who sip rose wine and stroll through villages rich in Roman ruins. And yet, Provence is never just about the sweet French life. It is also an arena for the adventurous who trek up mountains, kayak and cycle like world champions. The wind-whipped summit of Mont Ventoux – nicknamed the Beast of Provence – is a gruelling point on the Tour de France cycling race.The essence of Provence, in both its sun-lit sensuousness and ruggedness, is revealed in my seven-day walking gourmet trip organised by luxury travel company Country Holidays. I embarked on the Provence Hiking Gourmet trip, where highlights include three days of moderate hiking, and good food throughout the week, including at Michelin-starred restaurants.
So, for three days, we walk in fields scented by wild lemon thyme and pass vineyards in this land of the sweet, golden muscat grape, under the bluest Mediterranean sky. Then, in our hiking boots, we lunch well on fresh Provencal cuisine.
Other days, we spend time in little cities, intimate and varied, among them Arles, where Vincent van Gogh discovered the southern sunshine that infused his later post-Impressionist art. Also lovely are Gordes, a chic city poised theatrically atop a hill, and Avignon, a residence of French popes. We dine sumptuously everywhere.
Below, the gastronomic highlights of this trip:
Adapted from The Straits Times. Photo credit: SPH – The Straits Times, Lee Siew Hua, and respective establishments