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Trip Report - South of France

One of the major reasons we chose to move from California to the UK (for me back to the UK) was to explore Europe and travel regularly. So, with the kids on an end of term week break, we thought it would be a great opportunity to fit in a short trip. Teaming up with another family, we headed to the South of France for four days - and I'm so pleased we did.

We flew into Marseille on Wednesday and then headed straight to a villa in Saint Remy, about an hour north west of the city. I was immediately struck during the drive over to the house how different the landscape was, with lots of rocky outcrops and tons of vineyards, fruit and olive trees, it was amazing scenery. The other big thing I noticed, and it struck me throughout the whole trip, was the light, truly amazing, hard to describe beautiful light. A photographer thrives or often fails due to light, it is the maker or breaker of many photographs, so to be in location with a uniqueness of light, was really exciting and spurred a wealth of creativity.

The Wednesday day and night was all about acclimatisation and relaxation, and with great food and local wine, it wasn't hard at all! The Thursday was a day to relax in the morning and then head over to Maussane-les-Alpilles in the early evening. Mausanne is a small town about 15 minutes from Saint Remy and has a lovely main square and with several restaurants having large outdoor spaces, you can sit and watch the world go by, or in our case our kids run around like lunatics! The main church just off the square also adds to the feel of the town, which when added to the shutter windows and doors provides that perfect feel of Provence. With the sun going down and the long and late summer night creating a true "blue hour," which is roughly the time after the sun goes down and before darkness, I was able to take a quick walk around town and capture some images which balance nicely the ambient light and the lights coming on in the town.

I was also really lucky to react quickly enough to a man who walked past us and headed straight to a Harley Davidson motorbike, which was parked on the main square. He quickly put on his gloves and helmet and in a few seconds he was gone. Luckily, I was able to fire off a few frames and I got this image, which I think is really cool.

The next day, we had a nice opportunity to explore a couple of wineries and also visit a remote villa as one of our friends organises holidays in this region and needed to take a look at it for her upcoming clients. We really felt like we got to see some off the beaten track gems, which were only enhanced by the amazing weather.

Here are some pictures of the villa I mentioned

The wineries were particularly beautiful and surprisingly quiet, which allowed me to get some nice images, free of distractions. Again the big skies and fantastic light, even in the middle of the day added to the images, I particularly love the first image of the main house at the winery.

That afternoon we also stopped back near to Mausanne for a really nice lunch at Aux Ateliers, which we loved for its wine choice, as well as the great food. I am a little bit of a sucker for a good steak and this one certainly lived up to my expectations, the Bernaise sauce was fantastic! It is no surprise this restaurant gets rave reviews on Google.

On the last full day, Saturday, we spent the afternoon exploring Saint Remy, which is such a beautiful town, full again of tons of character. Here are some of the highlights.

Last but by no means least, on the final evening a big storm swept blew past and, as is often the case, left us with the most amazing skies, I was able to capture something I have never seen before: a rainbow in the foreground of a bright orange sky, from a wonderful sunset. I was also able to capture the moon against another beautiful orange tinged cloud, it was a fantastic and fitting end to a really great trip. 

I do want to mention, not to boast but to challenge, that all of these pictures were captured on my back up crop sensor (Nikon 7100) camera, using the old kit lens (18-105mm - f/3.5-5.6). I'm trying to keep my full frame sensor and more expensive camera for my client work. This set of images really surprised me and highlights that you don't necessarily need the best equipment to get nice images.