Subject: Provence in September
September is a wonderful month to visit Provence. The weather tends to be just splendid, not as hot as August or July, and there are considerably fewer tourists. I'd say a cut-off date would be Oct. 15:

1) because of the weather -- statistically, October and November are the rainiest months and this past year it has been quite brutal. In fact, it seems as if the rain stopped just two days ago. Probably an exaggeration, but this winter has set a new record for rainfall.

2) many restaurants and hotels start to close in the middle of October and begin to reopen again in Feb., March. This is not to say that one shouldn't visit Provence in winter at all. There are things to do and see (chestnut festivals, truffle markets, the Christmas cribs). And when it does not rain, hiking in November is wonderful. The fall colors, leaves turn late in Southern Provence, of the forests and the vinyeards are splendid.

In late fall and winter you may also have the rare opportunity of moving easily through St.-Paul-de-Vence, even find a parking, because in high season it's a zoo there. This is not to discourage anyone, because the Fondation Maeght is more than worth the hassles. Also not to be missed in St-Paul is the restaurant Colombe d'Or ( 04 93 32 80 02 ). If you have beaucoup de Francs left over, you might consider a lunch or dinner there; you'll be surrounded by original paintings of Picasso, Miro and others. In the days when the artists were penniless, they paid their meals with works of art, and the owner's family has kept them all these years.

I was glad to see St-Paul-de-Vence mentioned in the thread on Provence. Thanks to Peter Mayle, many people believe that Provence is just the region of the Luberon, or the Vaucluse. In reality, Provence in general is considered to stretch from the Italian coast to Marseille, and north to Avignon, Orange, even Gap and Briançon. The term Cote d'Azur stems only from the late 19th century, when a sous-prefect Liégard wrote a booklet on the Riviera and coined the name after his beloved Burgundy (Cote d'Or). With his literary endeavors he desperately tried to be voted into the prestigious Académie Française and regularly sent cases of excellent Burgundy wine to the members of the Académie. He was never voted in, most likely because the members didn't want the flow of gifts to stop.

Frieda Lekkerkerker