19 Jul 2012

Provencal Tranquility

There is something in the air in Provence… I am sure of it. I mean something different, something intangible… something magic. There is a tranquility and a peacefulness that settles over people when they come to visit. I used to believe it was my romantic nature that dreamt up this very special atmosphere, but now, I have come to understand that it is not my imagination or my idealistic ideas that cloud my eyes… it is Provence.

I see this time and again… friends arrive, buzzing from their lives in the city to be greeted by a calm, almost languid atmosphere. Within hours they shake off the mantle of their everyday lives and start to respirer… to breathe… they breathe deeply and breathe in a way that opens not only the lungs but also the eyes. Some would argue that beauty alone can do that for you… and I acknowledge from the bottom of my heart that our part of Provence is extremely beautiful… but it is more than this. The air is like a tonic, an old fashioned elixir… Instead of ‘taking the waters’ as one did in the olden days of Spa towns , I think we must  ‘take the air’

I have learnt to breathe… it does not come naturally to city dwellers and it is not an easy accompaniment to over worked and highly strung individuals. Breathing and relaxing takes practice… but somehow it is inevitable, inescapable almost, when I am at home in Provence. I surrender my free will to the sounds, the scents and the beauty of the garden… to the air…  and I too, slow down and re-appreciate the ambience or my surroundings. I hear the birds and I attempt to decipher the language of the cicadas… I luxuriate in the warmth of the sun and I inhale the scents of lavender and fruiting fig trees… it’s one potent spell, and when under the influence of this Provencal sorcerer… time becomes a very flexible notion. I like that this Provencal ‘air’ slows me down, grounds me and makes me appreciate the natural side of life… I prefer the me that is less perfectionist and more comme ci comme ça but most of all I adore seeing my friends and my family blossoming in this environment

As I mentioned… there is something in the air… xv

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A beautifully written post Vicki. I got to ‘I luxuriate in the warmth of the sun’ and my shoulders dropped and my breathing slowed.

The Enchanted Home

You make me want to jump on the next plane to get back there….it was magical and was everything AND MORE that I had expected when we visited about 2 years ago. Amazing place…..and so agree there IS something in the air. That picture? PERFECTION!

Francine gardner

Dear Vicki…your make me long for Provence, i can feel the pinch in my heart and long for the cents of lavender, thyme, romarin, the chants of the cigales and “grillons”. I try to capture memories of my summers in Eze village, by surrounding myself with the scented plans of my youth. Potted lavender and rosemary between the chaises around the pool, lavender in every flow”.I feel i am back in France”… Well, not quite, I can really tell i am not in provence and miss it . fortunately, i will enjoy a few days in the South in september.

sharon - my french country home

Your picture is perfect Vicki, and I totally agree about the Provence effect. The light maybe, the cigales, the perfumes. I’ll be in Provence this weekend, so I’m looking forward to soaking up that special atmosphere

Tara Dillard

It’s not psycho babble or voodoo, it really does make you feel better.

Scientific study released findings about plants releasing cytokins we absorb thru our skin. Enough to increase white blood cell counts in those with cancer.

Don’t need to imagine what it does to healthy people !

Similar, but different, is water. Our bodies are mostly water and the ions are charged toward any large body of water lake-river-ocean. We are chemically attracted toward water.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Karen in CT

Lovely comments … which provide tranquility. Thanks as always. Did you see the British Country Life edition of June 27th? Glorious France – great stuff about Brits moving to France to live, with a touch of humor as usual. Very enjoyable article and property news for Provence. An article on property in Aix as well. You would enjoy it, I am sure. Have a lovely day.

Karen in CT

Heather in Arles

Absolutely beautifully, beautifully written Vicki. I agree with Paul that your cadence casts a spell that calms and soothes just like your subject matter. And although I could easily write a post in response called “Provencal brouhaha”, I did see that slow fade into shimmer steal over my Sister when she visited, even in the boom-boom of Arles.

But truly, this makes me want to move out to the country more than ever…


I totally agree with you – there is something magical in Provence. At the moment I really should slow down a bit and feel the scent of lavender.

Amy Kortuem

You should start a “Slow Air” movement, like the “slow food” movement! I haven’t spent time in Provence, but would love to be breathing that air right now instead of struggling to catch a breath in this hot and humid swamp that is southern Minnesota right now!

Jeanne McKay Hartmann

I may not literally be in Provence, but your words are a breath of fresh air. In reading them, I think my breathing slowed a bit. And how lovely it would be to sit in one of those chairs, inhaling the scent of the morning air, starting the day with a café creme. You’ve created a beautiful picture in both words and images, Vicki! XO


Vicki, this is such a lovely post, your words are like a tonic to us, really beautiful. I can’t begin to relax just imagining the scents of your garden. Thank you..


All your post are so beautiful and I can just imagine your graciousness toward helping your family and friends enjoy the beauty of your home and region! I love all of Provence and France in general! I live in the southern part of the US and feel when my family is visiting my main goal is for them to refresh and restore! Isn’t it a wonderful gift to share our homes with others!!! Thank you for always lifting the spirits of others!!! Your blog is lovely!

Things That Inspire

I understand completely what you mean! This is how we feel when we go to the family beach house in Laguna Beach. It is one of the few places in the world where we feel that we can actually ‘breathe’. Fortunately for us, we feel the same way about the new house (and the backyard) that we built – it is truly an oasis for us.

Happy summer!


le sigh. I want to come visit you…it sounds delightful.
I would bring my paints…..and paint every serene scene.

Carolyn Bradford

I will admit that I am envious of that feeling right now! I feel anything but that…even though my fig trees are producing and my yard looks wonderful…at least for me! But when I read your description of Provence I immediately could taste it, smell it and see it! You painted the loveliest picture and it’s exactly how I remember it being! I also found something wonderful today while browsing through the cute dishes, etc…at Anthropologie! Your Book! I actually heard myself tell the girl as I was buying it “oh, yes…she’s a friend of mine!” I was hoping my daughter wouldn’t laugh but I think she’s heard me talk about you enough that she understands! We all think of you as our friend and I’m so excited to finally have a copy of your book in my home! It’s French Essence and I took some fun pictures of it on the shelves! Thanks again for your description of calmness! I may have to read it often this week!


Wow, that was a relaxing read. It made me take a deep breath. It must be the air, the beauty, the scent and the relaxing pace in Provence. It is also a very inspiring place that has inspired many great artists to create their best work of art. I remember one of our guides told us that Provence has the best “light” too for artists.


I totally agree with you. We have rented places on two occasions in Provence ….Once in a country setting and another time in a village house. You have been able to put on paper…what I couldn’t have. Beautiful!


Vicky, thanks for this lovely post. I have a little piece of paradise north of Perth and my beachhouse overlooks the Moore river flowing into the Indian Ocean. My family and friends, during their first glass of wine, visibly relax as they develop what I call the “Guilderton Glaze” as their eyes take in the stunning view and they breath the sea air. Louise

Shell Sherree

I sometimes have quiet moments when I envy friends who live inner-city ~ then I watch the birds drinking from the quirky little makeshift bird bath {and the cats drinking from it at alternate intervals ~ no tragedy yet, thankfully!}, inhale the sweet air and look at the trees surrounding me and I’m very grateful. It’s good to appreciate these simple things. Have a beautiful day, Vicki.


It just sounds idyllic Vicki. I think that you have such a beautifully balanced life. Paris, London and then the wonderful, relaxing air of Provence. I have shown nearly all of my friends your farmhouse and they all drool and sigh over it. Enjoy every minute of that Provencal tranquility. XXXX

Teresa @ Splendid Sass

I need some of that air! You almost tranquilized me talking about it.
The thought of the scent of lavender and birds singing is relaxing.
Thank you for sharing.
Happy Thursday.

Trish Murphy

OH how I wish I was in Provence at this moment! I loved reading your post you have a wonderful gift with words.It is true that we do not take enough time to smell the roses. X Trish

renee finberg

did someone say ‘BREATH?’
i never do….
well never enough.

thanks for the reminder.

my riding instructor used to say to me
before i entered the ring in competition ….
“remember to BREATH Renee”

Angie Muresan

Vicki, you weave such magic with your posts. Just reading them calms me down, no matter how frazzled I feel. Hugs and love to you, and thanks for your beautiful thoughts on a life well lived. By the way, I am waiting for your next book. I hope there’s something in the works!


Good Morning, Vicki

You probably don’t have time to reply but…I wondered into your blog/website and couldn’t help but relate to some of your experiences!! I live in the USA, unlike yourself, & would luv to travel some day overseas. You mentioned the word,”Breath”, it’s the only way to survive…I used to live in chaos, but decided for my family it would be best to move into the country…hope to hear from you soon…


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