French 5 | 10.29.21 (ft. Ashley of @curiousprovence)

Welcome to the 28th edition of French 5, where I share a glimpse of France through language, places, food and drink, arts and culture, as well as a random fun fact.

In this week’s edition, fellow Canadian and Provence ambassador Ashley shares a look at how she found “la belle vie” in the region she now calls home and what you need to do to live the full Provence experience. 

A big thank you to Ashley for participating in this interview and for sharing her beautiful photos from Provence. If you have any feedback or ideas of what you’d like to see or who should be featured, please leave your comment below.

Featuring || Ashley of @curiousprovence

My name is Ashley Tinker. I’m a Canadian that moved to Provence eight years ago with my partner, Robin. We’re located in the Alpilles region of Provence, close to Saint Remy de Provence. We moved here to find a good quality of life (la belle vie) despite not having jobs at first and knowing no one. It was a slow start getting used to this new country, the cultural differences, finding work in the seasonal economy that is the South and learning a new language. 

We’re currently renovating our farmhouse and converting a barn into a rental to be ready next year. I am a professional photographer, artist, foodie tour guide and I suppose an ambassador for all things wonderful about Provence. I focus on provence vacation photography, interior photography and tourism in the summer and painting in the winter. 

I personally love France for many of the reasons that it can be frustrating. I love that the people believe that certain things should be done in a certain way, especially when its comes to food and culture. This ensures quality but also means that outside influences can be slower to take hold, which is good and bad I suppose! I love the stunning landscapes, the history and architecture as well. 

01 Language || Terroir

It is so difficult to pick one expression or word! I have to say that I love that so many French expressions revolve around food vocabulary. Avoir la pêche/banane/ patate for example to mean being energetic or in full spirits. In Provence, there are many expressions that use provençale words. But a simple word that I feel has a lot of meaning especially here in Provence is terre, the word for soil. “Terroir” is used to describe the natural characteristics that are imparted to wine and other products from a particular region. “Les Terres” of Provence indicate the Provence of the Luberon or Alpilles that are away from the coast and which denote to me, the real Provence. Also, it’s a mark of pride to have one’s “mains dans la terre” or to have your hands in the soil. Agriculture is so important here, as is embracing organic production and biodiversity. In my opinion, you’re not living the full Provence experience if you don’t help harvest olives, or harvest grapes, or have at least a few tomato plants in your garden.  

02 Place || Activities in Provence

A favourite place is simply impossible. How about for particular things? For long walks in the Autumn, the Luberon around Bonnieux. For hikes in the winter, les Alpilles around Aureille and Eygalières. For the market, Saint Remy de Provence. For wandering tiny villages and lunch out, any of the stunning Luberon villages. For shopping, Aix en Provence. For art exhibitions and small museums, Arles. 

03 Food & Drink || Wine

Again another impossible question! Haha Can I be cheeky and say wine? 

04 Arts & Culture || Films about Provence

All the regions of France are so diverse and I can only speak from my experience in Provence. I think the Marcel Pagnol films such as Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources and La Gloire de mon Père are pretty special. 

05 Fun Fact || Diverse regions

I think the fact that France as a country has so many diverse regions in terms of cuisine, landscape, history and architecture. When people think of France they often think only of Paris; there is so much more to this country.  

Follow Friday || @marceletmoi & @thefrenchmuse

I think the account of Emma Climent @marceletmoi is a beautiful testimony to Provençal slow life. Or, for people that enjoy the arts, Ruth’s account @thefrenchmuse features her collection of 18th century French fabrics, brocante, local artists and more. 


To read all previous editions, visit our French 5 webpage

For more photos and stories from France, follow us on our new Instagram.

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