Unforgettable, That's What You Are!
Updated: Jul 15
When we think “Provence”, we think bright colors, fragrances, flowers, orchards, warm weather, outdoor cafés in the shade of majestic linden trees, and wonderful people.
When we think “French Riviera”, our brain switches to classy cafés and restaurants, fashion, sports cars, villas, and yachts. In fact, the “French Riviera” is called “Côte d’Azur” in French, the Azure Coast, where the sky is as blue as the sea and the glitter as bright as the sun.
“Springtime along the Riviera Just one more whiff of mimosa (*) Glitter through the night Glamour and delight Beyond the fields of lavender Jasmine, lily, passion flower Dames of leisure All dressed in white Dilly dally in the twilight At the balcony soon will be Sipping some tea right by the sea”
In a musical that I wrote as a tribute to my family’s great suffering during World War II, I also wanted to pay a tribute to my home-country. After all, I am still French at heart. A great way to ease the pain of the subject of this musical was to add a lot of imagery about France, and this song in particular paints some vivid scenes of France from summer to springtime. This one depicts life on the French Riviera, at the balcony of one of the many famous and glamorous resorts in Cannes or Saint Tropez along the coast.
(*) By the way, mimosa in Provence is a beautiful small tree which produces a myriad of bright yellow and aromatic flowers, widely used in the perfumery and cosmetic industry. No wonder Grasse, in the heart of Provence, is the world’s capital of perfumery. A beautiful city, it hosts the institutes of today’s top luxury brands of perfumes along with “le Musée International de la Parfumerie”, the international museum of perfumery.
Those are not only clichés, they are real! From the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, each picturesque village has its own charm and its own soul as each and every single one features beautiful, medieval houses with painted shutters, narrow streets, stone fountains overgrown with ivy, artists’ shops and outdoor markets. It is a burst of snapshots rotating at tremendous speeds that our mind sometimes may find hard to process. Our olfactory receptors are highly solicited in Provence, and our eyes are on the quick scanning mode, always focusing on a new spectacle.
As you drive through Provence, you cannot resist the temptation of getting out of the car to admire and smell the fields of lavender stretched as far as the eye can see.
You pass olive groves after olive groves. Ah... the olive groves...
The old groves which are no longer producing are still well-kept, and the wood is being used, one branch at a time, to manufacture some olive wood utensils (spreaders, spoons) or salad bowls or other beautifully crafted useful items.
The newer groves look healthy. They are the pride of the Mediterranean diet, and you can visit some extremely artisanal olive mills, watch the cold press, and purchase the exquisite olive oil, olive tapenade and “all things olive”.
Then you walk around the block, and you find a quaint shop with the authentic, very traditional colorful fabrics of Provence – tablecloths, place mats, dish towels, pillows… The scene is simply overwhelming.
After shopping there, you realize that you will seriously need to either ship the merchandise home or purchase an additional suitcase. You will cross that bridge tomorrow. In the meantime, you decide to freshen up as you are starting to contemplate a lovely French dinner by the sea. You look back, and you realize that you are falling in love with this unique “Provence experience”, this one-of-a-kind scenery, this attractive lifestyle…
Unforgettable, Provence, that’s what you are… And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay… Unforgettable, Provence, in every way!