Home DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT Senior Sorjourn: Provence is for Lovers ... of Champagne & Art
Senior Sorjourn: Provence is for Lovers ... of Champagne & Art PDF Print E-mail

*Because my spouse is a connoiseur of wines, especially the expensive and extra bubbly French ones, we had to visit the famed vinyards of the Champagne District. It’s a beautiful region, because when we were there it was late June, and everything was in glorious, colorful, sweet-smelling blossom. The Champagne air is enough all by itself to cause drunken giddiness. We stayed in an old chateau that had been converted to a bed and breakfast. Where else but in Champagne would you get wine with your jambon et oeufs?



Because I agreed to visit the wine country of Champagne, my spouse agreed to join me in a tour of Provence, just below on the south coast of France. As a grad of the Philly Museum College of Art, I wanted to see the people and landscapes captured by my favorite artists, Vincent Van Gogh and his drinking buddy roomie, Paul Gauguin.

Other masters also left the dusty, dingy avenues of Paris to paint in the sunny area, including Chagall, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso. We weren't disappointed, as we saw the farmers at work, spreading wheatfields, brilliant sunflowers, and people on the streets of Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, who looked like they walked out of another century. We stayed at a bed and breakfast just down the street from the famous yellow house in Arles where Van Gogh and Gauguin lived and worked.

Our son, a music producer, urged us to be sure to see Nice and Cannes, where all the beautiful people attend the historic annual film festival, to see naked people cavorting on the beaches or to look for yachts once owned by Grace Kelly and oil billionaires. We did, but it was off season, and the only movie stars we saw were on the city billboards.

Actually, the cities all looked like seedy, rundown California beach towns, and the rocky, stone-covered beaches were painful to walk on with our tired, old feet. However, the weather was glorious, and we did admire the line-up of luxury yachts  along the piers, owned by oil barons, crooked politicians, old European royalty and international gun runners.

Of course, France is a treasure trove of historic sites, and with just two visits under our belts, we could see so far only a tiny fraction of them. Next time we go back, we intend to spend more time in Paris, where I can study history more closely at that wonderful traditional theater, the Moulin Rouge. I’m an observant history buff, and I can study buff there, because the dancing girls are in the buff.

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