Jennifer Spafford, Toronto.

We Plucked the Most Deliciously Ripened Figs Right Off the Tree…

Jennifer Spafford, Toronto.I first visited Provence in the summer of 2009 with my mother, to celebrate my graduation from University. The first night of our arrival coincided with Bastille Day and our hosts Jillian and Patrice took us to the town of Vaison La Romaine to watch the fireworks, songs and dances put on by the locals. The sense of community that I felt standing in the center of this quaint town was a wonderful welcome to Provence.

Every morning I awoke to the most breathtaking landscape. Rolling hills of olive trees and an endless expanse of vineyards, framed by the most magnificent mountains in the distance. I was eager to see as much of the region as I could, and to take advantage of the beautiful landscape. The Bret’s took us on the most stunning hike up the Dentelles de Montmirail where I felt like I was on the top of the world. The view from the top of the mountain was a photographers dream as we watched the sunset over the valley below.

The time that I spent touring around the small towns of Provence opened my eyes to a whole new culture and pace of life. I spent hours looking at the unique trinkets and handcrafted gifts at the farmers markets and enjoyed popping into the many little art galleries and boutiques. Strolling around the cobblestoned streets, I quickly fell in love with the brightly painted doors and shutters of these small villages.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the towns of Provence during the day, the best part of the whole experience was spending time at Jillian and Patrice’s house in the evening. Each meal was made fresh, gourmet and presented in the most beautiful atmosphere and ambiance. The pride and enjoyment with which our hosts prepared each meal was as much a part of the experience as eating it was! One sunny day, we all climbed the fig tree by the pool and plucked the most deliciously ripened figs off the tree. We all sat poolside in the shade, eating handfuls of the juicy figs with wine and cheeses. I learned how to make fig tarts for dessert and it was so satisfying to make something so delicious out of fruit grown on the property and picked by hand only a few hours earlier. As a vegetarian, I really appreciated the way that Jillian and Patrice catered every meal to suit my own personal preferences, while still finding ways to make each dish unique and tasty.

One of my favorite memories from my time in Provence is of harvesting the lavender. We gathered bags of fresh lavender and sat in the sunshine stripping each stalk by hand. The smell of fresh lavender filled the air, the olive trees shimmered in the light and the sun warmed my skin. My Mum and I sewed the lavender into tiny sachets to take home and scent our clothes. I remember this day so vividly because I felt entirely relaxed and absolutely thankful to be sharing such an amazing experience with my Mum.

I truly cannot say enough about my experience in Provence with The Brets. They made my experience in France unique and unforgettable from start to finish. Their attention to each detail of my stay at their house made me feel special and welcome and I can’t wait to return to this little piece of paradise. I would recommend this experience to anyone who is looking for a memorable vacation that will be uniquely yours.

–  Jennifer Spafford, Toronto, Canada.