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Head To Provence For Food, Wine And A Bit Of Ancient Rome

The Pont d'Avignon, at Avignon, France.

The south of France is a vacation destination for Europeans as well as those coming from outside. That’s in large part because of its sunny and warm Mediterranean climate. Our travel advice this week comes from DannaBrumley, wife of KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. She’s the Francophile in the family, having lived and studied in France in her early adulthood.

“I studied the language. I worked at EuroDisney. I did everything I could to stay in the country,” she said.


A train can get you from Paris to Avignon in under three hours. There, you can explore the old walled city with its cafes, winding streets and the famous Pont d’Avignon. Head north to try wines near the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

To the west is the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct and a UN World Heritage Site.

To the south, you’ll find Arles. It was here that Vincent Van Gogh painted “Café Terrace At Night.” The eatery still stands, but is now called the Café La Nuit. Online reviews aren’t doing the place any favors, but the neighborhood is full of restaurants to choose from. Maybe take a peek at the artistic inspiration and then head down the street for food and drink.

Beyond the Van Gogh connection, Arles shares a lot of Roman history with the region. There are plenty of ancient Roman traces left, and also more recent history worth touring.

So is the food, Brumley says.

“They’re cooking everything in olive oil and they’re eating those Mediterranean vegetables – eggplant, tomato, zucchini. And it’s actually quite a healthy diet,” she said.

One meal on the agenda for Brumley and her group: daube de toro.

“It’s bull meat that is stewed in its own juices,” she said. “Or, it ‘sleeps in wine,’ as our French guide told us.”

Give yourself about a week to visit the region, and don’t be afraid to explore.

“People are often afraid to drive in France, and they’re afraid to come here on their own,” she said. “The French are quite warm, and quite polite. If you say 'bonjour' and 'merci,' you’ll get quite a long way here.”


"Going Places" is KPLU’s weekly exploration of travel, near and far. It’s co-hosted by Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley, co-founder ofEarthbound Expeditions, which guides tours for clients including KPLU. This week we heard from his wife, Danna. We've hit some highlights here, but there's obviously more to any place than we can cover in one segment. So, if you've been to Provence, feel free to share your favorite places -- or recommend something totally different for a future segement -- in the comments below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.