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A Week in Provence

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A Week in Provence

February 6, 2012

Good friends of mine in London recently invited me to spend a week with them at their French mas, or farmhouse, near the Alpilles, a small mountain range in Provence.

My friends are Greek but live in London; they bought this house at the beginning of the millennium as a meeting place for friends and family scattered all over the world. I’d been to the house before on family holidays, but this trip was different, as it was the first time I observed the place through the lens of my camera. I found myself appreciating anew the interiors of this rambling stone farmhouse, which is filled with an eclectic array of objects, each with their own meaningful and interesting story.

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Above: The entrance to the mas features a stone door frame, typical of the farmhouses in this region; the exterior light fixture is a converted lantern.

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Above: The painted wood chair is from a local garden shop which specialized in products from India (it’s since closed).

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Above: A paper-cutting of the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland sits on the mantel of the traditional stone fireplace. The Bohemian glassware marks each year the couple have been in the house, and the wicker baskets are from local markets.

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Above L: A portrait of an imaginary person by local artist Alexandre Peutin, purchased from a local gallery called Le Grand Magasin. Above R: A Greek icon, a treasured wedding present from a relative.

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Above: The exposed stone construction of the farmhouse would typically be covered by plaster.

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Above: Around the house are small tables displaying objects from interest around the world, including a collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century Greek cigarette boxes made in Dresden and shipped to countries in the Mideast, foreshadowing today’s global marketplace.

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Above: The kitchen is practical and functional. On the counter, bay leaves from the garden are laid out to dry on a tea towel.

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Above: Linen aprons from the local markets adorn the back of the kitchen door.

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Above: The terracotta tiles on the floor and stairs are part of the original farmhouse.

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Above: The Provencal quilt was purchased in a local shop; the print is of a wall in Yemen by an unknown photographer.

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Above: The homeowners asked local artist Emmanuel Sayagh to add decorative touches on various walls throughout the house. In the guest bathroom, the toilet-paper holder, originally designed to hold hand towels and soap, was found in the local brocante, or flea market.

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Above: The walls in the master bedroom were also painted by Emmanuel Sayagh. The wardrobe is an old French kitchen cupboard with French linen covering the cabinet openings, and the colorful baskets are from the local market.

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Above: Red accents on a Swiss cross-stitch pillowcase and Provencal quilt complement the gray walls.

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