LA PROVENCE Discovery of the country of Arles

Autumn and winter are ideal times to go for a walk and to bond with the nature of Provence. Time to head off for the hills of Montagnette. As a natural border between the Rhone Valley and the Durance, the Montagnette hills stretches all the way from the north-west of the Bouches-duRhône department, between Graveson, Barbentane, Tarascon and Boulbon.

It is the ideal setting for a scent-filled colourful outing. On the former terraced slopes, almond and olive trees are a reminder of past traditions. The rocky outcrops, hidden valleys, vegetation and typically Provencal landscapes have been immortalised by the painter Auguste Chabaud and made famous thanks to Alphonse Daudet.

As a starting point, and also not to be missed, is the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Frigoulet, hidden among the pine trees. The monastery owes its name to the abundance of thyme (ferigoulo in Provencal) dotting the hills (ferigoulo in Provencal). Founded in the 10th century by monks from Montmajour, today, the abbey is home to a community of White Canons and features two hostels, a book-shop and restaurant.

Continue the rocky path through the scrub between the oak trees, gorse, thyme and rosemary and soon you get to glimpse further east the blue line of the Alpilles. A little further on, admire the feudal castle of Boulbon, built between the 12th and 14th century. Its strategic location made it a good lookout point. Look carefully and you should be able to spot Mont Ventoux and the Luberon. A heritage-nature combination for the whole family.