The first thing that really caught my eye while driving from the airport was the long ridge of Mont Sainte-Victoire, that I knew so well from many paintings by Cezanne.
Something that impressed me from the start was the aroma of the countryside, which was rich with herbs; the late summer heat was another pleasure.
The wedding was unforgettable and took place in lovely surroundings. The trees that surrounded the chateau feature later in this story; here is a typical view:
But let's set those trees aside for a while. We attended two days of the wedding and then explored for a couple more days. We were fairly close to Vence which attracted me for a couple of reasons but, even before exploring those, it yielded other pleasures, such as this lovely mosaic by Chagall in the small but handsome cathedral:
One of the reasons why Vence interested me is that the Cambridge wood engraver Gwen Raverat lived there with her husband Jacques until his early death. I love her engravings of the town and one hangs in my printing studio. Here is another...
... and how it looked in 2014:
Another draw was the "Matisse" chapel. I had seen the designs for this at the Matisse "Cut-Outs" exhibition at Tate Modern and it was exciting to glimpse the building in the distance as we walked towards it:
Here is an exterior detail but photography is not allowed inside, which did help to maintain the wonderful atmosphere of this sacred space. We were given a very good tour of the interior. You can see more here:
The next day found us beside the sea in St Tropez, watching the waves, the people and the yachts:
All too soon, it was time to prepare to return to a chillier England but I was taking an idea back with me which involved those trees at the chateau, glimpsed on a moonlight night as I sat out on a cool terrace, escaping from the heat and sounds of the dancing.
All will be revealed in part 2!