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Under the Provençal Sun




Photography by Kellie Sliwa

Summertime in the south of France is arguably the most spectacular time of year. The warm, dry air is fragrant with dusky purple lavender and verdant wild thyme. Cicadas hum through the long, lazy afternoons, and bumblebees tumble along the backdrop of a deep azure sky. Fields of dinner-plate-size sunflowers keep their brilliant gold faces ever turned toward the blazing sun. Oleanders, colorful hollyhocks, and other Mediterranean flowers tumble out of olive jars and fill window boxes at nearly every cottage.


Let the sweet joie de vivre of Provence inspire a brilliant tablescape ideal for a midsummer afternoon tea. Choose a sunny spot such as an enclosed porch or, if it’s not too warm, a shaded garden. Give a nod to ever-present Provençal lavender by serving a tea infused with the bloom, and be sure to include plenty of treats with bright, herbal flavors. 


A vibrant, sunset pink–hued tablecloth is reminiscent of those found in every Provençal home and lends liveliness to the setting. Glossy glazed ceramic dishes and teacups in buttery yellow and sage green tones are simple and earthy—much like the French countryside. Cheery miniature lemon trees and a spray of wheat bring the simple beauty of nature right to the table.
 





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