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I spent some time in Provence as a kid. My Dad was supervising the construction and startup of a plant at Berre l'Etang outside Marseille.We lived in the managing director's villa on a high hill overlooking Aix-en-Provence. Aix to the east. Mont Saint-Victoire to the north. In fact, Cezanne must have painted Mont Saint-Victoire from our back yard, the semblance being so remarkably similar.

This was the time before the autoroute put Aix on the map. It was a small university town and a hub of strictly local commerce, olives, apricots, almonds and Pastis. Lovely tree-lined boulevards and wonderful, ancient cafes basking in the summer sun or shivvering in the cold whithers of the winter Mistral. We would go down to the Deux Garcons on Sunday morning allegedly to have a coffe and a pain-au-chocolat, really to peruse the incredible college babes that gathered there to enjoy the same amenities or to parade up and down the Cours Mirabeau as we did ourselves, me and my father and little sister on Sundays, me and my compagnons from school during the late weekday afternoons once school was out.

On weekends we would drive around Provence..... to Arles and Avignon, to Nimes and Isles-sur-Sorgue, to Durance and Dijon and in the summer to the Carmargue and Saintes Maries de la Mer, where Van Gogh painted his famous Boats on the Beach and the gypsies would congregate in the late summer to worship the Black Madonna. We would hit the weekend markets and pick up bread and olives and goat cheese and picnic by a stream alongside the road. I remember being awed by Pont-du-Gard and Mont Ventoux and the purple lavender of the countryside and the yellow warmth of the sun and the bitter cold of the Mistral howling down out of the Massif Central and the calenques along the coast west of Cassis and the incredible topless babes on the beach there, all brown from the sun and glistening with sweat and oil.

There is no where more sensuous on God's Green Earth than Provence. Even now Provence is a veritable Paradise. I travelled around France on a number of occasions, every trip an absolute wonder, a feast to the senses, layers upon layers of delicious memories. You may deride the Frenchmen, but their country is one of the most beautiful on Earth and Provence rightfully claimed by the Romans as Provincia Nostra.

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