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Provence by Car

Discover the sensory delights of the Provençal countryside in a sporty Smart Car.

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An eco-friendly Smart Car amid one of Provence's lovely lavender fields

The medieval village of Fayence

The farmers market in Fayence is a must-do.

One of Provence's famed vineyards

Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, found hidden in the hills of Provence—close to the glamour of the Cote d'Azur.

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I’d been a passenger in a Smart Car before but had always wanted to drive one. So here was my chance. Zipping through the French countryside, a vineyard on my left, a hilltop village way up on the right. The top down, warm sun shining, rosemary-scented wind blowing past. Had I driven straight into a postcard of Provence?

Actually, I’d signed up for the “Drive Smart and Relax” package, available April–October 2010 at Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche. They’d delivered my Smart Car convertible (you can also get a Ford Fiesta or a Seat Ibiza) directly to the Resort, complete with itineraries pre-programmed into the GPS. A two-minute lesson (the controls of a Smart Car take some explanation) and I was off. Destination: a restaurant I knew in the town of Mons, several kilometres away.

On the way, I stopped by the farmers market in Fayence, which had an olive oil tasting in progress, and I bought some rosé there. The drive itself was more scenic than I remembered; carved into the hilly limestone terrain, the road twists and turns past a Roman aqueduct and along a sheer cliff face past olive groves and sheep. In tiny medieval Mons, perched on a mountaintop, the restaurant was open and expecting me.

When you visit this area of Provence, chances are you’ll want a car for part of your visit, whether to explore the farmers market in Fayence or the scene in Antibes or Monte Carlo. Or the road may be your destination. Whatever—this is the way to go.
John Hamilton is a writer and consultant based in Singapore.

Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Jupiter Images

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By the way, I am going back this summer for a family visit... Do you know how much it would cost to rent a Smart?
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