Road trip to France – Provence Decouvre (Part I)

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I am back from one of the loveliest road trips ever and still so mesmerized that for long I didn’t know how to start telling you the French story. After experiencing all that beauty of nature, people and its culinary world, it is hard to settle down and start writing posts. But I decided to keep it simple and just start putting my thoughts on the paper…

France is considered as classic summer holiday spot, especially for non-European traveler. But France is so much more than Paris or Côte d’Azur. Visiting France by car brought a whole new perspective of this vast country, its people, customs and food. Visiting only Provence, namely just a part of it (it includes five departments, of which we’ve been to three!), made me aware of how big this country is and how many faces it has and how many treasures it hides. So, for different and undiscovered France you will need to have your own wheels in form of a car, motorcycle or even a bike if you are in for some more adventure. If traveling by plane or train, rent a car on the spot, because it really is a must. It is because the beauty and secrets of Provence lie in hidden villages, off road tracks and non touristic spots (yes, there are still some!). And feeling the always changing landscape is possible only this way…

Museum (and gardens) of Salagon
Museum (and gardens) of Salagon

We spent five full days in Provence (plus two on the road), during which time we properly visited 11 villages and 2 cities. By properly, I mean getting out of the car, walking around, seeing main sites and sitting for a glass of wine or a snack from a local boulangerie or brasserie. It happened that in some places we managed to visit a museum, enter a church or do shopping in small stores or farmer’s markets as well. Extra visiting stops, which made me especially happy were fruit stalls by the road, selling fresh, locally grown cherries, melons, plums and other delicious summer fruit, every 20km! And consider it was 30+ degrees Celsius outside…
Back on the road… One of the many villages we properly visited is Forcalquier, hidden somewhere between departements of Vaucluse, Alpes de Haute Provence and Hautes Alpes, just after you pass ancient abbey of Notre-Dame de Salagon on the sleepy back road which goes trough forgotten village Mane-en Provence… Forcalquier is known for the one of the best local food markets in the region. Every Monday Forcalquier has a farmer’s market from 9am to 1pm, which is a must for every person living in the range of 30km. Since I love to visit farmer’s market, it was a must to me as well. However, this is not the only such market in the vicinity – almost every village has its own market once a week, and their timetable is, normally, not overlapping. Anyhow, due to our schedule, and the fact that some of best producers come to market in Forcalquier, we decided to visit this particular one.

Farmer's market in Forcalquier - crowds didn't bother me at least...
Farmer’s market in Forcalquier – crowds didn’t bother me at least…

Eating in the street, tasting everything we see and talking to locals is priceless. We bought some beautiful organic olive oil (sort of olives – Aglandau – is typical to that region), subtle lavender honey, a bottle of rich red wine and mustard with pastis (anise flavored liqueur). They are still waiting to be eaten… 😉
Enough talk, here are few pics…i wish there were more but we were busy eating and talking.. Enjoy the atmosphere, people and food, and visit this or any other French local market when you get the chance!



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