This is where Provence begins, although the Dauphiné still holds our hand. It is time to let go and watch the landscape flourish. Several mountains come into view, first, in the distance, the Dentelles de Montmirail, which, on a clear day, herald the Alpilles, the land of Frédéric Mistral and Mireille: “The gaze is a dew that dispels all pain.” Mont Ventoux is also present, where Petrarch and Laure weave the rivers dear to René Char. Behind Mont Ventoux lies the rocky Toulourenc, descending from the land of Jean Giono.

Heading north, we discover the blue-hued Baronnies and the mountain of La Lance, cherished by Philippe Jaccottet (a renowned contemporary poet who lived in Grignan until his death in 2021). This ever-present mountain offers reassurance with the small hills surrounding it. From there come snow, good weather, and rain. Everything changes, but this mountain remains constant, providing stability amidst nature’s changes. The rolling hills make us feel at home while suggesting the possibility of elsewhere, confined in the distance by Mont Ventoux to the southeast and by La Lance to the east. And don’t they say, “He who sees La Lance sees luck”?

This landscape evokes childhood and vacations for me, scorching summers and the songs of cicadas. After the nightingale’s song, which opens the door to summer, the cicada orchestrates the days. At night, it falls silent, and the invisible becomes visible. Here, one senses presences: those of people who once built stone walls, their beads of sweat embedded in the fortifications. One feels the rustling of green oaks, the smell of truffles, and the dogs searching for them. Memories of thrushes hunted by hunters hidden in their blinds resurface.

It is the simple beauty of the world, often forgotten but always present. The roots are there, waiting patiently. Sometimes, only the sound of the wind and a farmer with his pruner break the silence, trimming the vines. The morning dew falls, governing nature until the lark, high in the sky, sings under the sun. This is our Provence, our home, but it is also we who shape it. The hand of man intervenes in the landscape, transforming it over time.

Long ago, there were many vineyards, but the phylloxera crisis in the 1880s forced farmers to plant truffle oaks to survive. Then the truffles became scarce, and vineyards were replanted. Today, new problems affect the vineyards, and the landscape is changing again. The hand of man will once more have to adapt the economy to nature, thus shaping the future of the landscape.

To learn more:

Guided tours of the city are available all year round for groups of ten people minimum.

Bookings to be placed with the Tourist Information Centre 04 75 23 45 33,
or with the Association: “Saint-Vallier Histoire & Patrimoine”: 04 75 23 20 97

Duration: 2h30min