It’s been two months since my return from France, and getting back to the grind that is the life of a solopreneur has me losing track of time.  It seems like only yesterday that I was enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of Provence, so I want to share them with you before the memories fade.

I adore France: its culture, its fashion, its food, its landscape.  So, when I heard about the tour of Provence arranged by Decor Tours, I couldn’t think of a better present to gift myself for my birthday.  Each tour is led by Deb Barrett and Susan Schultz, two Francophile, textile lovers that have crafted these adventures for design industry professionals and enthusiasts.  Their knowledge of textile history, manufacturing techniques, and fabric types is amazing, and their enthusiasm contagious.  So, without further ado, let’s travel back to Provence.

Day One:  After arriving at Charles de Gaulle, I made my way via TGV, through the countryside to Avignon.  Deb, who I had only just seen at the LVMKT Red Carpet Tour met me there, and we made the short drive to Saint-Étienne-du-Grès, our home for the next seven days.  I can not begin to describe the charm of the house were we stayed.  Rumored to once be a convent, it has so many details from bygone eras:  stone steps worn from years of use, wrought-iron hardware on a wooden door, and a fountain built into the wall in the entry.  We would spend that first day becoming acquainted with our home for the week, and each other.

Day Two:  Our second day took us to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, located on the Sorgue River.  Known for its canals and water wheels, it is also the place to go to experience the open air market (le marché) and scour antiques at the brocante.  We made our first foray into antique linens and textiles at the amazing La Boutique de Francine, and I did some serious financial damage straight out the gate.  I found myself the new owner of some beautiful striped linen, some white on white cutwork embroidered napkins (serviettes), and a late nineteenth century petticoat that found its way into the woad dying vat later in the week (stay tuned for the post on woad).  After a full day, we returned to a fabulous meal prepared by our personal chef for the week.

Day Three:  Up early, we headed out on a road trip to Côte d’Azur, ending in Grasse at Parfumerie Galimard.  We were welcomed by our nose – a perfumer – that would assist us in creating our own signature scent.  Sitting down in front of the perfume organ was a tad intimidating, and MY nose soon became overwhelmed with each additional whiff.  It surprised me that the floral notes I tend to gravitate towards – gardenia, jasmine, etc. – repelled me in essence form.   Eventually, after smelling each individual scent, I had concocted my formula: Notes of praline as the main base note (soft, chocolate note with milky and nutty facets*).  Notes of tobacco as the main heart note (rich, nuanced, warm and sweetish scent with facets of whiskey, maple and caramel, but with rosy-fruity and violet-like aspects as well*).  I should mention that I absolutely abhor any type of tobacco smoke…  Finally, notes of grapefruit as the main peak note (tart, tangy with bitter aftertaste, clearing elegant aroma, happy smell, uplifting*).  After naming our scents, we were presented a bottle to bring home, and our formula will remain on file for future orders.  How cool is that?!  Returning back to St. Etienne, we stopped in the quaint little town of Les Arcs-sur-Argens.  A walk from town hall and up a hill took us above the rooftops, and through the arched passageway of a fortress wall to the medieval village the city was built around. There, we enjoyed the view of the town below, stone towers, a dungeon, and sat on the terrace of the restaurant Le Logis du Guetteur for a late lunch.  The food was delicious, the wine fantastic, the ambiance breathtaking, and the company of new friends priceless.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reminiscing days one through three in Provence with me.  Stay tuned for Part 2, as well as some dedicated posts from my French adventures.

*Odor profiles from Fragrantica