Living in Provence

beautiful interiors and gardens from le midi

For anybody who knows Provence, the very names of the locations in this book seem like a musical evocation of the place: Roussillon, Eygaliers, Avignon, St Remy, Aix-en-Provence. And if you’ve been there you will know that Provence is a region drenched in warm colours, beautiful vegetation, soft contours, and rich textures – all of which are reflected in the traditional styles of the region. This photographic study of house interiors and gardens beautifully captures the magic of the place. I used to take my summer holidays there every year, and flicking through these pages made me yearn to go back to an almost heartbreaking extent.

There are all sorts of locations featured – everything from chateaux, the Grand Hotel Nord-Pinus at Arles, Paul Cezanne’s atelier in Aix, via elegant town houses, to restored villas which have been transformed into interior spaces of great beauty. Yet for all the rich glamour, there is nothing snobby about the collection. It includes old farmhouses, a hotel in Noves whose walls haven’t been decorated since the seventeenth century, and a troglodytic cave-like lean-to built into the side of a hill.

Having said that, most of these gaffs are of course more expensive than you and I could ever afford – but I have trained myself to curb envy and just pick up design tips from people who can afford to do anything. The rules which emerge here are to use restrained background colours, plus natural textures in stone, wood, and fabrics. The way to create an elegant and calming atmosphere is to remove all the clutter from overcrowded rooms, and let the eye be soothed by just one or two well-chosen pieces.

Every page is rich in images of sun-soaked patios and gardens, swimming pools, marbelled and tiled floors, period furniture, wood panelling, beautiful engravings, and rustic pieces of earthenware.

The colour photography is good, the print production values are excellent, and the commentary is is produced in English, French, and German. As publishers, Taschen don’t provide a lot of text or technical details, but in terms of value-for-money and visual interest you could not go wrong with a book like this.

© Roy Johnson 2005

Barbara and Rene Stoeltie, Living in Provence, London: Taschen, 2005, pp.199, ISBN: 3822825271

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