Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
My time in Provence was spent WWOOFing in and around Salon-de-Provence and I didn’t do much sightseeing elsewhere. And because I was working (or hiding from the rain), I never quite got to Aix-en-Provence which I heard was lovely. I had also originally planned to visit Arles (where Van Gogh lived later in life), but changed my plans and went to Toulouse. So…never made it to Arles or Avignon.
Salon-de-Provence is a small town that is quite centrally located to the major cities in Provence. It is not far to Avignon, Arles, Aix, or Marseille by car or by public transit (train/bus). There is not a ton to do in Salon itself – you can walk around the historical center of town in less than an hour – but it would make an attractive base to visit other parts of Provence. It may also be a bit cheaper than staying in some of those other cities, though I only saw a few hotels around.
Things to do:
- Nostradamus, the famous seer, lived in Salon so you can visit a museum dedicated to him in the center of town if that’s your thing.
- Wander around the historical center and see the clock tower, the castle (now a museum which we skipped going into), and the Fontaine Moussue. There are some nice cafes and restaurants lining the street. There is also a nice market on Sunday mornings in the Place Charles de Gaulle.
- The area around Salon is quite hilly and there is some good hiking available though we didn’t have a chance to do this.
- Salon is known for its soap (and olive oil) and you can visit one of the famous soap makers at their factory – Marius Fabre. There is a small museum there as well. We never made it to this place, but it had been recommended.
- One thing that surprised me about Salon was its movie theater. There was a Fall movie festival wrapping up when I first arrived in Salon and we went to see one of the films (L’Incroyable histoire du facteur Cheval) which featured a Q&A with the director. Another night, we went to a screening of Libre, a documentary about African refugees coming to Southern France and one of the main subjects of the film, Cédric Herrou, was present for a Q&A. While these types of screenings are the norm in New York, I was pleasantly surprised to see this sort of programming available in a smaller town in France.
- Because we were not far from Marseille, we drove to the city one night for a music festival, Fiesta des Suds. It was a long and late night, but was my first time in Marseille and since the concert was located just along the old port, it was a really cool way to see the city.
Most of my time in Salon was spent amongst les oliviers (the olive trees) and prepping them for the upcoming harvest. Which basically means that we were cutting branches and cleaning up the base of the trees all day. Not the most exciting work, but it was fulfilling in its own way as we slowly cleared tree after tree. We also had the chance to press grapes one afternoon which was a lot of fun. Since I had finished les vendanges just a few weeks earlier, it was great to see one of the next steps in the process as we pressed the grapes and put the wine in the tubs for fermentation. Our host offered us a tasting of some of the previous years’ wines, as well as some of the grape juice she had produced from this year’s harvest. A nice break from cutting branches all afternoon!