In the Vaucluse: The Countryside

Vignettes from France.

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Provence is nothing like Paris. Nothing. At least where I am in the Vaucluse. On the Côte d’Azur, things are substantially more chic, but here it’s really just a bunch of country folk working their land to produce great wines, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and olive oil. They are farmers. And I love farmers.

When in Paris, you feel a bit out of place if your hair isn’t up, if you don’t have your scarf tied just so, if you have last year’s purse. (Quelle horreur!) These are the things one never even thinks about in the Provence countryside, and it is such a relief. It’s nice to get dressed up on occasion, but I have plenty of those opportunities all year long through work. Here, if a person is dressed up, everyone knows they are not local. A pair of shorts and flip-flops are acceptable wear at just about any place you’d want or need to go. Given the Mistral blows like the dickens more often than not, don’t even consider wasting time on a hairdo. It will be a “hair-don’t” in about 10 seconds. And that floaty, silky skirt? Unless you want to flash the locals your delicate panties, you’d best leave that at home. It’s comfort, casual and functional here. Wonderful.

For weeks on end, I don’t even look at my make-up bag. My hair doesn’t see a flat iron or blow dryer. It is the ultimate in low maintenance. I think everyone should get a chance to experience this complete abandonment of vanity. Because unlike the cottage, at my disposal while wearing the same tired pair of shorts and ratty tank top, are some of the world’s best wines, restaurants, cheeses, and patisseries. Oh we may look like country bumpkins, but we are not starved for any culture whatsoever. The best of all worlds if you ask me: sipping on a decadent Châteauneuf-du-Pape, indulging in foie gras or truffles in bare feet and a worn pair of jeans. Could it get any better?

Paula Kane can be found at atableprovence.com.

 

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October 11, 2013