I arrive in the South of France in early July, which means I am in Provence in perfect time for both lavender season and tourist season. With summer in full bloom my visit is thus haunted by the pervading scent of lavender and is punctuated by snippets of various overheard languages.
I arrive at The Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche after a forty minute trip from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport. As we travel I notice the breath-taking countryside and admire the location of the hotel itself which is tucked into the hills and yet still nestled in close proximity to the French Riviera.
My visit this year falls on Bastille Day, one of the most important dates in the French calendar as it marks the end of the French monarchy. Bastille Day, or as the French call it “La Fête Nationale” is held on July 14th and is a public holiday. The day commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille in Paris and a chunk of French history that is important to all the local inhabitants. Although the holiday is celebrated to varying degrees depending on where you are in France, there is a wide variety of things to do whether it be military parades or “une manifestation tuarine” also known as “the running of the bulls”, which is held nearby in St-Rémy-de-Provence. The events run on both the 13th and the 14th of July and the ambience of celebration can be felt in both the hotel and the local cities.
In the evening I sit on the coast and watch an elaborate firework display with the light cascading across the sky and reflecting in the ocean. I have never seen fireworks before in such an ideal location and drink in the “bangs” set against the roaring tide.
The rest of the holiday passes in sublime quiet. I spend much of my time indulging in the seclusion of the resort, tanning on the nearest beach, playing a relaxed game of golf and letting my hair down in the spa.
Although the hotel is set away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, I do my best to visit several of the local attractions. I spend a day shopping in Nice, visit the landmarks of Monaco and although I have sadly just missed the film festival, I make a trip to Cannes and stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette hoping that I will bump into a famous director of some sort, but my pursuit for celeb spotting is in vain.
What better way to spend your summer than nestled in the voluptuous hillside of the South of France in a five star hotel that is a short journey from many of the major cities? Bastille Day too, is an unforgettable experience, with all the energy and va va voom of a British events such as Hogmanay, but with the pizazz that only the French can effectively execute.
I cannot recommend strongly enough both the luxurious hotel and the festivities of Bastille Day itself, which puts English celebrations of historical moments to shame. My main piece of advice on the day would be to book a restaurant in advance as, like many public holidays, it proves hard to secure a table!
Copyright © 2011 Jessica Cook