“According to a French acquaintance of mine, one of the souls of Provence is food, and it was hard not to agree. (Not least because of the two kilos I picked up while I was there – I’ll have to go back on a diet). Cavaillon, for example, where we stayed, is a center for melon growing, but if you visit a market it is forbidden to miss out on the cheeses (which are everywhere), spicy sausages, and hams (even more common), and better-than-good wines in. Provence isn’t cheap. When we asked for six salads and a coffee or two in a more secluded area of one of the small towns, it cost us €100. There are many rock-hewn settlements around Provence, the most beautiful example of which is the breathtaking Gordes, but on the winding roads of Oppède you can really sense what life would have been like in such places a few hundred years ago. No wonder that by the 19th century its inhabitants had had enough of the cool, damp walls and moved down into the valley. Now visitors are the ones who enjoy it the most, as you can climb among stones to the beautiful church of Notre-Dame-Dalidon, which has an authentically ancient atmosphere.” (2017)
“I also travel to Arles because, for instance, I want to taste lamb in lavender(!) sauce, since after all, we’re in lavender-rich Provence!, which is best prepared in a certain corner restaurant. We’re going there, for whatever reason. For Arles. I enjoy the old, rather sleepy atmosphere of this city for a while, then I hop on a bus and 50 minutes later I’m in a totally different world: the Camargue, with its marshy beaches, full to the brim with pink flamingos.
Here’s the smartest way to get around is to rent a bike for a few euros and set off: you’ll see the famous studs of the Camargue, and if you’re lucky you can take part in a bull run. At the very tip of Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer (a small village), you can enter a dark church. There they worship the black St. Sarah, a female figure the color of dark chocolate, and unbelievably exotic.
Unlike Arles, which has the charming, sleepy air of a small town, Avignon has tasted the big time. What a beautiful city! It practically glows. Since you're a little tired, and you've already seen a lot today, you sit down on a bench on the main street (right opposite the train station) and doze off. They'll find you, don't worry! They found me too.
Virtually every minute someone thrusts a playbill into your hand, and not just anyone: a clown, a musician, someone dressed as a three-meter-high monster, a man in a bizarre priestly gown, a child, a girl wearing a ballet tutu and shoes, they are all promoting shows that are on right now, immediately, or at four, half four, or any time in the afternoon, for a performance beginning here or there. I’d say there’s a theater festival on.
Well, I didn't go to any of them. I don't speak French, so I wouldn’t understand anything, and that's not why I came here. When I feel like the crowd is too big and too full of color, music, sights, and sounds, I just walk down a certain street. To the Street of Fabric Painters, or Rue des Teinturiers: that's its name. Cobblestones, a stream, mills, fairy-tale inns, charming buildings… Until the last century, every house here was involved in fabric painting. And the signs of that work are still visible today.
I sit down outside a restaurant, on a terrace facing the street, just under a big mill wheel. I would like an Entrecote with fig chutney, baked potatoes, and a glass of wine. From what I get, nine or ten euros is really not expensive. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the festival reach here too, with young people marching and singing. Leaning out of a first-floor window, a girl dangles a line of flyers in front of passers-by (what an idea!) literally bumping it against them so they tear off a sheet from the bundle.
However, I am now concentrating strictly on my half-blood roast beef, resting and enjoying a few of the Papal Palace and the famous bridge, and in a few days I will return to this miraculous city in a more targeted way, if I want, or combine it with a train journey in another direction if I decide to do that instead.” (2016)