Provence: a wine region with culture

Even in December, the southern French region of Provence maintains lovely temperatures. This is due in part to a cold, dry wind called “le Mistral.” Le Mistral is the result of an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs mainly in the winter and spring throughout the Mediterranean gulf. During this time, the Mistral usually develops as a cold front moving down across France. The air piles up in the Alps, spills over the tops of the mountains and comes down into the Rhône valley. The Mistral has been known to blow continuously for several days at a time. Often, Marseille and St.Tropez get the brunt of this cold, strong wind as it exits to the sea. Most of the trees throughout Provence are bent in the direction of the Mistral and it has been known to cause damage to crops. However of most interest to tourists is the fact that the Mistral blows the bad weather out of Provence, thereby allowing the sun to shine almost year round. For whatever reason you choose to travel to the south of France, you’ll find that Provence will be everything you hoped for and a lot more.

Provence Wines and Vineyards

Vines have been cultivated in Provence since the Middle Ages, but it’s only in the past 30 years or so that these regional wines have gotten any attention. Both wineries and “caves” (wine shops/cellars located near the vineyards where you can buy wine in bulk at excellent prices) are very popular with locals, tourists and locals. There are 11 official wine appellations in Provence (an appellation has to do with the area in which the vines are grown and the soil type): Bandol, Bellet, Cassis, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence,  Coteaux de Pierrevert, Cotes-de-Provence, Côtes de Provence-Sainte Victoire, Côtes du Rhône, Coteaux Varois, Les Beaux de Provence and Palette. Provence is especially known for its rosé wines that are earthy and delicious.

Provence’s Inhabitants and Culture

In terms of social classes, “everyone” inhabits the large region that is Provence. Of course, you can find many expensive homes and villas throughout Provence but housing in parts of the region’s larger cities like Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles is typically affordable (depending on the neighborhood). The Provençal practice of shopping 2 or 3 times a week at local markets also helps to keep costs low and reduces waste. There are communities of artists and artisans who take up residence in Provence’s many medieval villages (or nearby) and make their money selling handicrafts and paintings (mostly landscapes and nature scenes) to tourists. In addition, the large city of Marseilles is considered to be an art “mecca” of Europe and is home to galleries showing both traditional and modern art. Sociologically speaking, Provence is a very diverse region and its artistic culture reflects this fact.

Where to stay during your vacation

La Villa Mauresque is a small boutique hotel near Saint-Raphaël, in the tranquil village of Boulouris. Overlooked by the volcanic Estérel Mountain, this luxury hotel sits on sun-kissed sands, watching over the glistening Mediterranean. Bordering the sea front, between Cannes and St Tropez, La Villa Mauresque was built in 1860 by famed Moorish-inspired architect Chapoulart. La Villa Mauresque offers an exclusive location with breath-taking sea views all round and immaculately manicured gardens. La Villa Mauresque is composed of 2 villas, one with a few exclusive rooms right on the sea front and one with a larger number of rooms, slightly further from the sea front, hence closer to the road. All the guests are welcomed to both Villas, that provide 18 high-end rooms. The seafront villa provides 7 luxury rooms while the villa with view of garden has 11 luxury rooms. The Hotel’s privileged seafront location perched over the red rocks of the Estrel, its small beach and private port nestled between the most beautiful secret coves of the French Riviera make the hotel La Villa Mauresque an oasis of peace and beauty. All the rooms have been redecorated and refurnished with ultimate luxury and comfort in mind. More than ever La Villa Mauresque is synonymous with exclusivity, luxury and privacy.

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