The only problem I ever have with travelling to the south of France is the fact that it has so many beautiful spots to explore that I don’t ever know where to start. And the fact that my French is by now so rusty that I don’t even have the nerve to utter even the simplest of phrases without stuttering violently.
So, armed with the resolve to explore, not be undecided and embrace the random plus a newly bought phrase book, I picked up my laptop, credit card and booked my car hire in France. But I’m not going to tell you about my upcoming visit, I’m going on a trip down memory lane. Which immediately brings water – not to my eyes! – to my mouth.
The south of France has had a special place in my traveller heart years before I started leaving the country a little more regularly. As an avid movie lover since childhood, well introduced to the art due to the help of a well-educated movie buff – my older brother Charles -, I had visited the country many times before. In my imagination, that is.
But I do have another predilection deeply ingrained in my heart: food. The first time I had the very unexpected access to the south of the country, yet another of the elders in my family – a very cool cousin – invited me to go to Cannes with him.
I was taking my first steps in the world of advertising and he thought it might be fun to accompany him in the glamorous world of the Festival de Cannes. Not only did the company he represented win a couple of prizes, I got the chance to taste the wonderful French cuisine in loco for the first time. But it was not to be in Cannes.
My cousin, also an educated, intelligent and charming man (runs in the family) knows how to travel with style. As soon as we set foot in France, he was determined to show me around. Not by taxi. Not by overcrowded-with-tourists bus. That’s how we got the first destination where I truly experienced the delights of southern French cuisine: he drove “our” car hire to Nice and had me try a fantastic Niçoise salad for lunch. To wash off the excesses of the previous night of celebration.
It was not just any car, though, he had a silver convertible with the top off waiting for us in the wee hours of that unforgettable day. After that salad, though, we were not finished. What is usually dubbed as French cuisine has nothing on the southern French, mediterranean cuisine. Ever heard about the herbs of Provence? They’re used extensively alongside marvelous olive oil and meaty olives, fresh fish and vegetables and wonderful seafood.
Further along the coastline, my cousin drove the car hire to Montpellier. Thinking we had had enough food by then, he “accidentally” took us to a friend’s restaurant for a wine tasting near the fishing port. Which was extended by just a few hours, in which we were all but forced to try delightful little cheeses and treated to yet another meal consisting of the most exquisite delicacies the mediterranean has to offer.
When thinking about travelling, make sure all your senses are contemplated. Yes, a nice landscape to look at is entertaining, but to also indulge in a feast of the palate, touch and smell can pretty much make a good experience turn into a memorable one. For years!