I've arrived in Provence . . . and so has Spring!
After a two and a half year hiatus, thanks in part to Covid and also to border closures in Western Australia, I'm finally back in Jouques.
It seems like rather a strange time warp to be here as things really don't change much in village life; though Jouques has elected a new Mayor in my absence, so the cultural and community programs have improved - always a positive thing in my view.
After a first cold and wet week, warm days are here and the trees are suddenly verdant with new leaves, Spring flowers are everywhere and local farmers have their crops sown - wheat stalks are already poking up amongst the poppies which have taken over some of the fields for an oh too brief week or two.
It's a fabulous time to be in Provence, so we hope to see you here soon.
 Nous éspérons vous voir ici bientôt - we hope to see you here soon
Fiona + Jean-Louis
Goodbye Iris, hello Poppy!
Such beautiful, old-fashioned names for girls 'Iris' and Poppy', for good reason - these flowers are just gorgeous! Here in Provence they grow wild, in huge numbers and wherever they can find a foothold, while in the average garden in Australia, I can confirm, these flowers are not so easy to grow!
At first I found it hard to believe that Irises are no more than weeds here in the countryside and random places in the village too, but fortunately they are very much admired and so not treated like the average weed. Sadly though, once the weather turns warm enough for poppies to grow, irises disappear very quickly.

(above) A field on the Plateau de Bèdes just out of the village, puts on a brilliant display of vivid red.
This track on the edge of Jouques shows a typical location for irises growing wild - these are the most common colour, while some may be lighter or darker in hue.
A different perspective on 'Montagne de Vautubiére' (also in the first photo) here poppies make a beautiful mélange with yellow flowers (which may be Canola). 
What could say "Provence" more than a farm house with rows of cypress trees, next to a glorious field of poppies?
We had a great time photographing the poppies and chatting to some of the locals, also out capturing the fantastic show of colour.
Jouques's annual agricultural fair
Jouques is historically an agricultural community, helped by the fact that there's a lot of water here compared to other parts of Provence, which the Romans exploited from as early as the second century. The river Réal that runs through the village is clean and fast flowing, stocked with trout these days for fishos, it once had nine mills along its banks to process grains and oils.
All around the village there are lots of vineyards, fields of crops, and groves of olive and almond trees, as well as quite a few smaller fields of lavender, thyme and more. Additionally the new Mayor, who runs
the local distillery, is ecologically minded and has instigated a program of tree planting, a new community garden, educational ecology-based information for the community, as well as this inaugural 'Foire Agricole' which was held recently.
PHOTO (above): by Jean-Louis
PHOTOS (from top): There are lots of horse enthusiasts and even a few equestrian centres around Jouques so of course there were pony rides for children; Jean-Louis found a Porsche that he took a shine to; farm animals for everyone to get close and cuddly with; some local Bergers (shepherds) drove their sheep and goats through the village to graze on the 'Grand Prés' (big field) at the heart of the village where the fair was being held.
(below) There is an Abbey of Benedictine nuns in Jouques, they are self-sufficient and run a small boutique selling their wares, but made a rare public appearance for the fair, to connect with the community and show off their high quality wines, conserves, soaps and more - we bought some delicious marmalade.
PHOTOS (from above): A demonstration of how to correctly prune an olive tree was surprisingly dynamic; miniature donkeys are always adorable; a local choir of 'bons vivants' was fantastic; (I even had a dance) the band wandered and played throughout the Sunday marché (previous two PHOTOS by Jean-Louis); a couple of Bergers and their dogs guided the flock of sheep and goats through the streets of Jouques to graze on the 'Grand Prés'.
It was fun seeing the sheep and goats being shepherded thorough the village streets, especially being so close and there being so many of them! I particularly enjoyed seeing the large goats with huge bells around their necks. Being market day there were a lot of people about and the neighbourhood dogs got very excited too. Needless to say there was rather a lot of sheep pooh on the streets afterwards, but the 'Grand Prés' beneifitted from a welcome dose of manure. See the video by clicking on the image below.
Fiona's original images - Thought I might as well continue with the theme of poppies, particularly as I came across this interesting spot whilst looking for the poppy fields up on the nearby plateau of Bèdes. Too interesting to not share, this ancient water trough was almost hidden in the shade of the huge old Plane tree, just a stone's throw from the blaze of red poppies  you can see in the background, which I had been photographing. It had almost certainly been used to water horses and livestock until late last century, especially as many properties in this part of Jouques have to catch (or purchase in Summer) their own water even today! A little sad to see it lying unused now - can't you just imagine it surrounded by horses having a drink?
Last poppy-shot I promise! Unless you care to look at our Instagram page where I might just post a few more photos while the flowers are still about! This is obviously just an indulgence - I couldn't resist the beauty of the poppies amongst the wheat stalks, which will no doubt overgrow the flowers in a week. 

In the media
Just before I left Perth in Western Australia I had the opportunity to be interviewed by journalist Will Yeoman of 'The West Australian' newspaper, the resultant article appeared a week ago in the weekend edition. Of course most of you would not have seen it before now, so here's a link to the article online - naturally we're trhilled to have this publicity.
It was great to chat with Will and naturally we are thrilled to have a full-page in our local paper!
By the way, we are now on
YouTube, so check out our videos.

The podcast associated with the newspaper is called 'The pod well travelled' - we're very pleased with how the podcast turned out, so do have a listen and let us know what you think.
Click here for the link to the podcast online.

From the studio
Jean-Louis has a small exhibition of recent works installed in the local library at present through to 17 June.  Works include two major oil-encaustic paintings plus five smaller studies, as well as five drawings which are for sale. See posts of
these drawings on Instagram and contact us if you're interested in making a purchase.
Here's a sneaky video of this small exhibition.
That's all from us for now.
We hope you've enjoyed this peek into our activities and life here in Jouques. Don't hesitate to email us with any queries you may have about our art workshops and retreats or any general questions about things to see and do in our part of Provence. 

Don't forget you can catch-up on all of our previous newsletters at any time, share them with friends, or reread whilst planning your holiday! 
if you know anyone who's planning to travel to Provence, please tell them about our art workshops and retreats. Thanks!
© Artelier Provence. All photos and words by Fiona Diaz unless credited otherwise.
Highlighted words are hyperlinked to web-pages. 
Newsletter #18

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