After a recent visit to Provence, I can say that country French—which enjoyed quite a fashionable moment in the 1980s—is back for me in a big way. Who can resist the lovely villages, delectable vegetables, stone houses and shimmery golden light that inspired everyone from Cézanne to M.F.K. Fisher? What really got me going, though, were the gardiens, the cowboys of the Camargue.
The Camargue is a microregion of Provence, where the Rhône River opens up in a big, flat marshy delta dotted with flamingos, chevaux Camarguais (native white horses) and gorgeous long-horned bulls. It is absolutely magical. Cowboys in the Mediterranean? Flamingos? Bullfights in which the bull is not bloodied but rather the star, taunted by lithe raseteurs who leap in front of its raging horns while attempting to pull ribbons from them with a hook? Yes, please.
I came away intoxicated by the rustic, masculine, unfussy Camarguian version of Provence. With its mix of clear, sun-saturated colors and subtle Romany influences, it is downright sexy.