Numerous incredible writers have drawn their inspiration from Provence’s land and specificities throughout history for their literary work.
The most important gathering promoting the Provencal culture is undoubtedly the Félibrige. It was created by a group of seven poets from Provence in the 19th century and even nowadays aims at the preservation of the countries speaking “oc” language culture. Frédéric Mistral is one of them and the most famous. He wrote a dictionary entitled Lou Tresor dou Felibrige which is the richest dictionary of “oc” language. With his masterpiece Mireille (Mirèìo) he won the Nobel Prize of literature in 1904. The story takes place between les Baux-de-Provence, the Camargue and the Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer. Today, Mistral is buried in Maillane, a colourful village in the Alpilles near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where you can find a museum dedicated to the poet.
Another important sight symbolizing Provencal writers in the area of les Alpilles is Alphonse Daudet’s windmill located in Fontvieille where he used to spend his holiday. It is a quiet spot far away from the hustle and bustle of his city life in Paris where he lived. Alphonse Daudet is well known for Letters from my windmill first published in 1869. It depicts the local southern culture through short bucolic tales among them: The Three Low Masses, the Elixir of Father Gaucher, The Priest of Cucugnan, The Secret of Master Cornille that you can discover with a film made by Marcel Pagnol.
Marcel Pagnol is well known for his autobiography (a trilogy entitled My father’s Glory, My mother’s Castle, Time of Love), a must-read for any lovers of Marseilles and its surroundings. Indeed, Pagnol grew up in Marseilles and spent his holidays in the little village named la Treille near the Garlaban Mountain. He tells us about his childhood in a loving family. The books are easy to read and children study them at primary school in France.
When it comes to stories taking place in the Alps, we can mention Jean Giono from Manosque who described the peasant world and characters such as the shepherd Elzéard Bouffier or the Horseman on the roof. Emilie Carles further north in the Hautes-Alpes in her autobiography A wild herb soup tells us about the demanding life in the high mountains especially during the wintertime in magical valleys such as Nevache or Vallouise.
Nowadays, even English writers set their stories in Provence. Peter Mayle for instance with A year in Provence published in 1989 which is also an autobiography tells us about life in Provence today. A great part of the autobiography takes place in the Luberon,in his little town of Menerbes in particular but we also get his charming description of Aix-en-Provence with its famous bistrot “les Deux Garçons” from where you can enjoy a splendid view on “the Cours Mirabeau” with its “plane trees”, its “four fountains” and its “perfect proportion.
For lovers of nature, do not miss the book written by Jacqueline de Romilly entitled On the paths of Sainte-Victoire, describing the atmosphere of the magical mountain while hiking, source of inspiration for all artists: painters such as Cézanne and writers alike.
If you want to walk in the foosteps of these great people of Provence, don’t wait longer and we will design a private tour focusing on your special interests.