It's Mimosa Time
February 18, 2009
by a bucket of mimosa flowers at a Provençal market right
now, and you would swear it was the height of summer. The sprays
of yellow blooms and heady, honey-like scent seem to advertise sunny
days and warm nights. The sun part is a given-Provence boasts approximately
300 days of sunshine a year-but warm nights are a ways off yet.
The mimosa tree flowers in February and March, bringing a riot of
jaune (yellow) to an otherwise wintry landscape.
This week, the yellow pompoms are the belle of the ball in Mandelieu-La
Napoule, la capital du mimosa (the mimosa capital).* Situated
on la Côte d'Azur (the French Riviera) just west of
Cannes, Mandelieu hosts a yearly festival complete with une reine
du mimosa (Mimosa Queen), parades, dancing and a carnival. You
can even follow la route du mimosa (the mimosa road), a winding
route that begins in Bormes-les-Mimosas east of Toulon, wends its
way through Mandelieu-la Napoule, and ends in the perfume town of
February I had my own route du mimosa as I drove from Nice
westward towards Aix-en-Provence and beyond. It was a brilliant
sunny day and yellow splashes of color covered the hillsides on
either side of the autoroute (highway). Bouquets of mimosa
dotted the open-air market in Aix when I arrived mid-morning. Later
that afternoon, I visited the St. Paul de Mausole monastery near
St. Rémy where Van Gogh spent a year before his untimely
death. The blooming mimosas contrasted starkly with the solemn chapel
and neighboring dormant trees.
as if Provence wanted to make doubly sure I knew spring was coming,
scores of almond trees offered up their pale pink flowers that day
as well. I managed to capture this amandier in full bloom
outside one of my favorite pottery shops just as the sun was going
In June a few months later, I snapped this photo of Van Gogh's rendition
of the amandier in the gardens of St. Paul de Mausole. A
perfect example of life and art coming together. I wonder if he
ever painted the mimosa?
* For more information on the 2009 Mimosa festival, click
here. This year's festivities run from February 13 to 22.
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