The places we go back to: Journey through France.

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

July 20, 2020

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How curious are those places that you constantly travel to. Those that become silent spectators of your life.

For the past twelve years I’ve been spending every summer in Provence, in a little town called Rognes. Every time the family gets together here, we are all the same people, yet we are completely different each and every time.

I have left many parts of me in this house: from the innocence of the first time I came, when everything was magic, to the understanding and involvement in family dynamics and what they imply for each of the members of the family.

One thing I’ve learned is that in time we transform ourselves into those we see as others.

My ways were more Mexican at first, I laughed more and took delight in the simplest of things. In time I’ve lost a bit of that, as I’ve transformed into a bit of a strict mother and fulfilled my role as a wife and daughter-in-law, whatever that means.

Coming back to this same spot year after year becomes an encounter with my own life choices. The itinerary is always the same. We fly to Paris and from there the train or another flight to Marseille. Hence 35 minutes by car and we are home.

The place is beautiful. Nature takes center-stage complemented by red tiled pink houses. There’s lavender everywhere, and crickets never cease to sing.

Many people prefer Nice, Cannes or Saint Tropez that are next door, but I like to spend more time where there is more depth than form.

The closest known city is Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne was born, and almost every impressionist spent some time at one point or another. The main fascination is the Saint Victoire, a beautiful mountain that sparkles awe and has been painted by Picasso and Van Gogh among many others.

Our days are spent either at home or town-hoping. Each town has its charm, a famous character, and a different energy to it. When I visit these places, I like to start where everyone ends: at the cemetery. Then I look into the relevant sights, and the markets

The best way to experience these towns is to either walk a lot, or sit and watch them come to life from a café. I ask for a grenadine, which is one of those democratic drinks that both children and adults share since it’s basically sugar, water and red food coloring. White wine works for me as well.

And then I just see life go by, feeling the energy of the people. The vast majority of this land belonged to the Roman Empire. There are small coliseums, aqueducts and other vestiges from that time everywhere: each has its own charm.

In the next few days I will share with you my itinerary, so that you can travel with me.