And so, at last, it might be all over. The Omicron wave is receding and the French government has announced that it will stop compulsory testing for most international arrivals. The Pass Vaccinal, which requires people to present proof of their vaccination status to enter bars/restaurants and museums, is expected to be phased out by Spring.
Which means that Provence will soon be completely open again for tourism.
The top new attraction is Luma Arles. The brainchild of philanthropist Maja Hoffmann, Luma is located in a former railway repair yard. It has a stunning Frank Gehry building as its centre piece, a landscaped public park and numerous artistic display and performance venues. I first visited in 2019 before the Gehry building was open to the public. In one of the labs I watched as 3D printers used a Camargue seaweed based substance to create copies of locally unearthed Roman artefacts. Luma was a hot-ticket back then, and it is even bigger draw now. If you visit Provence this year it should be on your agenda.
Also coming to Provence in 2022 are a plenty of big name art exhibitions to compliment visits to cities such as Aix, Arles and Avignon. The time to enjoy these experiences is in Spring or Autumn, out of the peak tourist season and the beating heat of the summer sun.
Highlights include Henri Matisse at the Angladon museum in Avignon from June to October, and the Raoul Duffy Exhibition at Hotel Caumont in Aix from May. A leading member of the Fauvist school of painters, Dufy, it is said, never painted a sad picture, and his work is all about the joyful use of colour.
More immediately it’s time to see Van Gogh’s celebrated canvas: Papillon de Nuit Géant, at the Fondation Van Gogh until Mid April and also the celebration of 50 years of optical art at the centre Victor Vaserely and the Chateau de Gordes until early May.
For those who like their art big, the multi media art show at Carrieres des Lumieres (Les Baux) is, as always, worth a visit. From March the show is centred on Venice, and takes visitors on a voyage to the city, using giant art projections of Venetian streets and canals.
To complete the cultural round-up don’t forget the Collection Lambert in Avignon. Tucked away down a side street, this little art centre punches above its weight, always presenting interesting and challenging exhibitions. From February to September it is tackling the ever more topical issue of truth and how it is represented in art and photography.
If all the culture makes you hungry or thirsty, then in Aix, try the new Singe Vert restaurant on the Cours Mirabeau; in Avignon the terrace of the Carre de Palais, which remains an unbeatably atmospheric place for lunch in the shadow of the Palais des Papes; and in Arles, Chardon, which thanks to its nomadic chef concept always has something new on the menu.