Everything in the world is different right now. I'm not relaxing on the Mediterranean coast or wine tasting in a village in Provence. But, I can use some of my favorite travel memories—and share them with you—to help bring travel home. One of my favorite beach memories was sitting in Antibes in the South of France. Come along and share my travel memory, and I'll help you give the gift of travel by bringing home Provence. After all, don't we all want a bit of the South of France in our dining room or back yard?
One Perfect Day in France
I was in the South of France, in the small town of Antibes, the first time more than a decade ago. It captivated me. I could see why it had inspired Monet, Picasso, even F. Scott Fitzgerald. After a day of sailing on the Mediterranean and exploring the old town, we wandered to a small beach on the Cap D'Antibes.
Cap D'Antibes is a small cape that extends beyond the town of Antibes-Juan les Pins. We had walked the path from the old town to the cape, about a 15-minute walk with the waves crashing onto the rocks.
When I walked up and saw that blue water, the bright yellow umbrellas, and lounge chairs, I was almost overwhelmed with emotion. I watched a little girl play in the sand and looked at yachts bobbing just offshore. Surely I was dreaming.
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I know I must have uttered “wow” at least half a dozen times as we waited for our reservation. We walked to our table—shoes in hands because it was in the sand—and the tabletop took my breath away. Pretty blue glassware, the bright yellow napkins, all set against the most dramatic backdrop.
The day was divine – salt air on a cool spring day, the gentle lap of the water on the shore, the beautiful colors of Provence all around me – blue and yellow and the bright red accents everywhere.
As we sat there, enjoying a lovely French rosé wine and beautiful fresh fish, my companion raised a glass in a toast. “On days when we are sitting home, working at 3 a.m. to meet a deadline, trying to make the words come together, remember this moment. It is one perfect day on the Côte d'Azur.” I have often thought of that moment when I long to travel.
Bringing Home Provence and the Côte d'Azur
To bring travel home, we need to recreate that setting—even if you don't have that beautiful beach landscape. We can definitely start bringing home Provence when we recreate that gorgeous setting. You can capture that French café in your own living room or perhaps in your back yard.
We begin with the beautiful linens that I discovered on tables throughout the South of France. While the one on this table was solid, I adore the patterns that depict everything I love most about Provence: lemons, poppies, olives, mimosas, and lavender, for example.
You can get beautiful cloth Jacquard ones or the coated cotton clothes found on café tables all over France from the shop Fabric of Provence on Etsy.
Shop owner Mireille Nett grew up in Provence and moved to the U.S. as a teacher. She has been sharing her handmade tablecloths with American customers since 1999. These are beautiful tablecloths and napkins that make the basis for your French touches necessary to bring travel home.
To complete my table setting for bringing home Provence, I need those beautiful blue glasses. I discovered that Blue September Rain, a vintage glassware shop operated by Nesha Kaye, offers some great examples of the nice blue glassware that I thought matched so perfectly with the blue waves of the Mediterranean.
Bringing Home a Taste of Provence
Of course, to truly succeed at bringing home Provence, I try to replicate my French meal on the coast that day. I start by ordering a lovely bottle of French rosé wine and some cheese.
I recommend one of these lovely French rosés to help with bringing home Provence. There are some great wines available on that list, but two of my favorites include the Chateau la Coste Provence Rosé 2019. This wine has been named among the World's 50 Best and received 95 points from Decanter. The wine from Chateau la Coste is certified organic. The wine really is like sipping a taste of Provence. This lovely blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Cabernet hails from Coteaux d'Aix en Provence and sells for about $32 per bottle.
A less expensive option, but with the floral aroma you expect from a rosé from Provence, is Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé 2019. At less than $30 per bottle, it has lively acidity with the lovely fruitiness of the region. It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle from the Côtes de Provence.
Now you need a great cheese to pair with your wine. There are so many amazing French cheeses that it's hard for me to pick my favorite.
While it might be a bit difficult to get French cheeses in the U.S., we do have some great small cheesemakers who sell cheeses that pair beautifully with rosé wine. I recommend a sheep’s milk cheese. This one from Cheese Grotto is from Green Dirt Farms in Weston, MO is an excellent example. It is Animal Welfare Approved® and as close to a French cheese as you get in the U.S. It is a buttery cheese with undertones of lemon and mushrooms.
One of my favorite tastes of Provence was olive tapenade. I fell in love with all of the fresh olives as I wandered the street markets in Antibes.
I was thrilled to discover that the French serve tapenade, made with fresh local olives, at every meal with lovely, crusty bread. I recommend either Délices du Luberon Tapenade Noire, which has no preservatives and made in Provence, or NyonsOlive Tapenade, also made in Provence.
Some of my favorite dishes during my time in Provence were seafood, fish, and chicken. While I can't bring meals straight from France into my home, I do keep Herbs de Provence on hand to add a taste of the South of France to my home-cooked meals.
If You Go to Provence
When we can safely travel again, I recommend adding Provence and France's Côte d'Azur to your bucket list. When people ask me about my favorite place in the world, I always say it's the South of France. It's a combination of the colors, the coast, the food, the culture, and the wine.
Right now, it is absolutely possible to bring travel home through reliving those travel memories. With just a few items, you can say hello to France by bringing Provence home. Recreate dining on the beach in your dining room or maybe your backyard.
When you are ready to visit, be sure to check out what our Wander writers suggest that you do and see in France. You can also find more ways to give the gift of travel with the new Bring Travel Home series on Wander.