Another month and coronavirus continues to dominate the news. The lockdown’s being experienced by countries around the world have for the most part remained in place which of course has put paid to the best of laid travel plans for millions. Here in France, President Macron has announced that there will be a partial let up of the countrywide lockdown beginning on the 11th May. This will mostly apply to schools and some essential businesses but it is hoped that hotels, restaurants, cafes and museums will all be allowed to open soon after.
Perhaps then there is hope that we can all enjoy a holiday abroad before the summer is out. After weeks at home I suspect the urge to escape for a well-deserved holiday will be significant! Provence will be here to welcome you with open arms when that day arrives.
In the meantime, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy some of the best bits of Provence from the comfort of home. Take a look at a few suggestions for things to do that I hope will catapult your memory back to summer days you’ve enjoyed in Provence before. Or, if you’ve not visited give you a glimpse of what you could enjoy when you visit us here in this most idyllic corner of France!
Find a sun-drenched corner from which to enjoy a good book
Perhaps one of the saving graces of lockdown is that the weather in many countries has been good with plenty of sun. Not only is this great as it helps top up vitamin D levels that have been depleted during the winter months in the northern hemisphere, but exposure to the warm sun is also intensely relaxing. One of the many luxuries on holiday is having the time to curl up with a good book.
Whilst you might not be able to do this by a pool, moving a chair near a window to catch the sun’s rays, or, if you have one, setting up on a long chair outside in your garden with a book is a luxury you deserve, especially during lockdown!
Suggested reading: A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Enjoy some amazing food
Food plays an integral part of life in Provence and is one of the many things that so delight visitors who return year after year. With abundant local ingredients, talented chefs and a foodie culture that goes back decades, Provence is without doubt a gastronomic delight.
One lovely thing about Provencal food is its relative simplicity. As such, many recipes are ideally suited to home cooking and lockdown gives you the perfect excuse to spend some time in the kitchen coming up with a few wonderful dishes to enjoy.
Simple lunchtime dishes like Courgette and goats cheese ciabatta are the perfect types of food to give you a quick fix of Provencal flavours. Or why not try serving up a full Provencal dinner feast! I wrote the perfect blog just for this. Check out ‘A Provencal dinner party’ for some recipes and inspiration!
Pour some wine
With wonderful food you need fantastic wine. You are spoilt for choice in Provence which is a major wine producing region in France thanks to the high levels of sunlight it receives throughout the grape growing season. Now is no time for scrimping and as we’re all saving money on travel at the moment why not redirect some of those funds to some special bottles such as a Châteauneuf du Pape red (available for around €25 up from wine merchants).
If red isn’t your thing then try a rosé. This delicate pink coloured wine is well regarded in Provence which produces some spectacular vintages of this wonderful wine.
Take a bike ride
Provence is a sizeable region which is criss-crossed with a brilliant road network. Rural roads in particular are often fairly traffic free which makes them perfect for biking. With lockdown in force, roads around the world have seen huge drops in traffic levels which have resulted in many more people dusting off their bikes and heading out for the daily dose of exercise (whilst of course adhering to their local lockdown restrictions!).
Whilst perhaps a spin around your local town might not quite feel like cycling past lavender fields it will at least help build up your fitness in anticipation of a biking holiday later in the year!
Grow some sunflowers
Sunflowers are something that are truly reminiscent of Provence. During June and July, whole fields can be covered with this incredible 5 foot tall flowers with their large yellow heads that gently track the sun from dawn til dusk. Whilst it’s going to be hard to replicate such an expanse at home, planting a few sunflowers to watch grow over the coming months can be a therapeutic activity. Sunflowers actually grow really quite easily and you don’t even need a garden, just a pot with a little compost and a packet of seeds.
For those of you with children this is the perfect lockdown activity. Task your children with the responsibility to keep them watered and you’ll buy yourself at least a few minutes peace and quiet each day!
Take a deep lavender bath
Sunflowers are not the only fabulous plant you’ll find in Provence. Equally (perhaps more) famous is Provencal lavender. Whole landscapes become covered in the most amazing purple hue as row after row of lavender springs forth filling the air with a stunning aroma.
Whilst you can’t recreate the visual aspect of lavender in Provence you can at least enjoy the scent by running yourself a deep, luxurious bath and topping it off with some lavender bubbles or essential oils. If you’re feeling stressed by being confined to your home, this is sure to help ease away those worries.
Learn the language
For many of us, lockdown has given us the gift of time. With no long daily commutes and perhaps a reduced workload, now might be the ideal time to learn a language (French perhaps!). There are several great apps that you can use to get you started such as Duolingo and Babbel and many have special offers on at the moment that allow you access to their ‘Premium’ content for less. So, who knows… a few weeks concerted effort and you could find yourself enjoying speaking the local language on your next holiday!
Watch A Good Year
Being continually at home is tough and sometimes we all need to enjoy a bit of escapism. Guilt free Netflix binge watching is perfectly acceptable at a time like this! But, if you yearn to remember the feeling of enjoying a French summer holiday then there is no better movie to catapult the mind back to summers of past years than A Good Year.
Featuring Russel Crowe, this romantic comedy really captures the essence of a Provence Summer and is well worth watching!
However you are managing during lockdown I wish you and your family the very best. Stay well!
Su Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines. Olives & Vines is a luxury holiday company based in the South of France offering stays at their beautifully designed holiday house and boutique hotel in Le Castellet.