Visiting Provence in September.
This month we introduce Delana from Delana du Jour, who wrote this light hearted article about September in Provence, highlighting a less frequented yet sunny and lively period of the year in the South of France.
It is September and we have now entered that special time of the year here in France when everybody has returned from their holidays, and school and work begin again in earnest. It’s such a big change that there is actually a term for it…la rentrée. If you say to someone “à la rentrée”, what you mean is “see you in September”. It specifically means the re-entry into the new school term but it has become a generic term for the beginning of almost everything. This is when political rhetoric heats up again, all the new books are released, television shows and their time slots all change, new movies are released, and the stores are packed with parents and children loading up on school supplies.
The rentrée may be the end of summer and the travel season for the French but it’s the perfect time to visit Provence if you aren’t. I’m not a big autumn fan. In fact, I generally hate it. But here in the south there is no other word to describe it than glorious.
In September, the fingers of autumn are gently tugging on the dangling toes of summer. The days are still deliciously warm but the nights have cooled off to make sleeping a dream. The “cigales” continue their summer song but with a little bit of laziness and the grapes are fat and purple on the vine. The afternoon light of Provence, made famous by so many renowned painters, becomes Beautiful-Light-on-Steroids.
Hiking trails, that are often closed in the summer because of the fire hazard, have reopened and the water of the Mediterranean is warm and caressing. The tables of the food markets are heavy with the most flavourful produce you’ll ever eat and the brocantes and flea markets are still going strong all over the region as are village festivals. Meals continue to be served outside on the terraces of restaurants and brasseries but the evening air is cool and sweet. And best of all, many of the tourists have gone home!
Don’t get me wrong, I love tourists. I was one myself once upon a time. And I depend on them for my business as a local guide. But once the rentrée hits, Provence goes from magic to magic times ten. One can slowly peruse the markets, enjoy the beach without jostling for a tiny square of sand, and bask in the glow of a more sympathetic summer sun.
I know, I’m gushing. But it’s sincere gushing! If you have the option, while planning your Provence vacation, seriously consider September. Bring your bathing suit and your sweater. And a suitcase heavy with anticipation.