Each one of us, at some point, dreams of escaping from the routine of daily life into a more serene and generous place where beauty, life's little pleasures, and captivating sceneries can be found in abundance. Even though, everyone dreams of a different destination, the idea of experiencing the idyllic Provençal way of life that has inspired some of the greatest painters, Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne appeals to an almost basic need in every one of us. And it doesn't take a lot to understand why there are so many people who have succumbed to the charm of the huge purple rolling hills of lavender, the glorious fields covered with fluorescent red-orange poppies, the endless stony green vineyards, the gnarled olive trees and twisted cypresses, the smiling faces of the yellow sunflowers following the warm southern sun...
Who doesn't want to stroll through ancient villages with cobblestone streets, old-stone houses with wooden shutters, terracotta pots of rosemary and air that is scented with aromatic herbs? No one minds feeling lost in the freshness of fruits and sun-kissed vegetables or in the enchantment of the antiques and vintage fabrics at the local vibrant market on a bright sunny morning.
Perhaps, the most treasured encounter is the one with the artisan food and the excellent wines of the Provençal cuisine. With centuries of tradition and intimacy with the land, the farmers, the butchers, the cheese-makers and the winemakers of the region embrace what nature bestows and translate it into something beautiful, elegant and simple. And as many authors suggest, it all starts with the land and is rooted in "terroir", a French expression that can be defined as a combination of soil, climate, culture, and the relationship of food and people who take care of the land.
"Terroir are vibrant and innovative spaces that define the people who live there and reflect a marriage between traditions, culture, and natural environment."(international definition at UNESCO meeting, 2005)
As cliche as it might sound, Provence is not simply a geographical area, but a state of mind, a gift for the senses, a place of love for the land, love for the food, of home and life "joie de vivre".
And once you have tasted the spirit of Provence, you want to bottle it, take it with you... and keep returning to it.

If you are thinking of how to "bottle" the taste of your Provençal escape, I would suggest this traditional drink that is made in Provençal homes using a handwritten recipe passed down from generation to generation.  

Vin d'Orange is the taste of Provence and like many describe it "it is truly, sunshine in a glass."
It is an infusion of bitter Seville or blood oranges, white wine, fruit brandy, sugar, and vanilla, which is left to macerate at least 40 days. Traditionally, the French make vin d'orange in the month of March when Sevilla oranges are at their peak. It has always been best brewed at home and given to friends and relatives as a gift. They sip it as an aperitif or an after-dinner liquor, usually in the summer, when the sun is setting and one wants to stretch the beautiful time and savor it longer.

My husband and I bottled orange wine last week after almost a month of maturing. We used blood oranges and pink rosé. Yesterday, we had the first taste of Province. I don't drink alcohol at all, except a glass of wine on special occasions, but sitting on a table with dishes of white earthenware, sunflowers in terracotta pottery, French blue cheese, olives and peppercorn pâté, and a baguette with Seville oranges marmalade, I can have a glass of vin d'orange even if only to admire the color.   

Would you like to join me?

Vin d'Orange 


3 Seville oranges or blood oranges (unpeeled) 
1 bottle rose wine 
1/4 vodka
1 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean 


Slice each clean orange into circles. Combine all ingredients in a large glass jar and stir. Seal the top and set aside in a cool, dark place for up to a month. (Some recipes call for three to nine months.) Stir occasionally. To bottle, strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter and funnel into a clean glass bottle. Cork the bottle so it can be stored at room temperature. If it is in an unsealed bottle, then keep it in the fridge for up to a year. 
In summer, serve it chilled, or over ice with a twist of orange, or “tall” with soda.

  * * *

This post was created especially for the party, Simply Irresistible, a celebration of friendship and love for all things French, hosted by my cherished blogging friend and artist Anita. 

Those of you who value the best of the French countryside, please, visit Anita's site Castles Crowns and Cottages and take delight in more stories of Provençal escapes!

 Thank you!