If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know I recently traveled to the Provence region of France to study under the incredible Jill Steenhuis Ruffato! I’ve been promising to share some of the highlights of my trip, along with all the details on what we saw, did, and ate while we were visiting. So, here’s my full recap of my stay in Aix-en-Provence!
As I mentioned, the primary purpose of my trip was to attend a workshop hosted by Jill Steenhuis, who is a painter of landscapes, still life & figures currently residing in Aix-en-Provence. My sister, mom and I (all artists) decided to attend the workshop together as a way to rest, retreat, find new inspiration, and of course, spend some much needed time together. We all came home from the trip feeling full and inspired, mostly by the way Jill treasures painting, and how she encouraged us to do the same. She has a deep love for the “dance” (as she calls it) of painting that reminded me to cherish the process of it all. My biggest takeaway was recognizing that I am free to play around more with color & brush stroke... it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!
Our days were spent painting scenes together as a group, exploring different towns, and relishing in the incredible history of Provence. We visited places that some of the most renowned painters once worked, like Cezanne’s painting studio, and saw their works in exhibits all over the region. You can sense the appreciation the community has for the arts, which was so refreshing and gave us all a sense of belonging!
The culture of the Provence region is slow and indulgent (which pretty much convinced me I’m supposed to move there). No one is worried about time or schedules, only on enjoying the day and appreciating what life has to offer. The French have very playful, witty spirits and they laugh A LOT! Their focus is not so much on work & production, but is oriented around family, friends, and of course, food! One of the places I noticed this most was in the markets we visited - everything was so fresh, healthy, and colorful, and people took their time as they strolled through. If you visit the region, be sure to look into the market days for each town! They are a must see and, in my opinion, the best way to experience the culture. Plus, they sell the most beautiful, flowy, boho dresses (my fav)!
Another thing I love about the culture in France is their language. I am (somewhat) fluent and this trip only made me want to learn more! It’s no secret that French is a beautiful langauge - it’s almost like you can taste the words.
I figured the best way to share with you all you should see/do/eat in the region is by listing them out below! I gathered dozens of recommendations before our trip, and while we didn’t get to visit them all this time around, I’m keeping them in mind for my next visit.
Les Deux Garcons
Le Petit Cafe (Oppede)
Cafe du Progress (Menerbes)
Auberge la Feniere (a Michelin star restaurant near Lourmarin)
Edouard Loubet (Bonnieux)
Explore the markets on market days!
Le Cours Mirabeau (the city center in Aix!)
Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur d’Aix-en-Provence
Atelier Cezanne (Cezanne’s Studio)
Le Terrain des Peintres (where Cezanne painted the Montagne Ste-Victoire)
Le Grand Marche (the market in Aix that takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
Pont du Gard (an ancient Roman aqueduct built in the first century)
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (another village in Provence)
Lac St. Croix
Visit the hilltop towns: Gordes, Lacoste, Menerbes, Oppede
Stop into the amazing antique shops!
Visit lavender fields in Valensole
Sézane store (beautiful shoes & dresses!)
If you’ve travelled the Provence region and have any more recommendations, please feel free to send them my way! I have a feeling that this wasn’t my last trip.