Provence

In July we spent a week in Provence with my family. One of my parents' close friends and her children came too. As children we always used to go on holiday together and they are more like our cousins than friends, but we hadn't all been away together for 10 years. 

We stayed near the village of Montaroux, about an hour from Grasse. It was perfectly located for beautiful scenery, crystal clear rivers and bustling little villages. 

R and I got the train from St Pancras all the way down to Marseilles. We absolutely loved our train journey - 6 relaxed, comfortable hours, most of it spent watching House of Cards (totally hooked), some of it spent watching the changing scenery whizzing past. We also took a little picnic, care of Mr Waitrose. 

We spent a night in Marseilles before driving into the countryside. We wandered around in the early evening.

We only really got a glimpse of Marseilles but we liked it alot - hot, sprawling, diverse and just a bit gritty. Full of interesting shops and restaurants, people cooking food in the streets, graffiti-laden walls, slightly crumbling houses, lashed with seawater. Lively and messy and just a little bit whiffy. 

It was so lovely to feel proper Mediterranean heat for the first time of the year. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Britain in the summer, but there is nothing quite like that feeling of dry heat on your skin, heat that lasts right into the late evening. 

We stumbled across this wonderful traditional printmaker. I loved his fishes - they reminded me of our Jo Waterhouse fishy. 

After an amazing dinner at

O'Bidul

 (if you're ever in Marseilles, go), and a good night's sleep, we woke up bright and early and headed east into the mountains.

The rest of the week was mainly spent sleeping, sunbathing, swimming in the pool, reading and EATING. Oh the croissants, oh the cheese......!

There were 12 of us and we took it in turns to cook and had long, lazy dinners every evening, talking, talking, drinking delicious wine, moving from course to course. Mmmmmm. 

We did some early evening exploring of the local villages. 

Beautiful narrow cobbled streets lined with plants and flowers

Lovely old fashioned bars and restaurants in shady squares.

We also made sure to do some river swimming. 

Swimming below fig trees, shade and sun dappled, water disappearing into green lace and dark rocks. 

Freezing but invigorating!

And we tried the local violet ice cream. A bit strange but R was a big fan.

On our last night we went out to eat in Montaroux.

And then walked home (a little bit tipsy) in the dark!

A truly lovely holiday.