France in February?

deserted buildings along the Hérault gorge, Languedoc

It’s a fair question. Why go to France to paint en plein air in February? Well, it’s definitely a crap shoot, weather-wise. But there are, as they say, extenuating circumstances.

First, Schedules. A boring subject on it’s own, but let it be said, I was only free until February 13. So right on to the second reason.

I had enough mileage points on my least favorite credit card from my most favorite bank(that’s you, CF Bank) to fly “free” for some time. Least favorite card because it’s the trickiest to redeem and high season tags on extra airport fees $400 and up! But this fall I was getting all sorts of travel offers for “cheap” flights, so I did a random check and low-and-behold, I got a flight from Akron-Canton(my favorite airport) to Paris for points plus $31.70. Ching-ching.

The green light was when my partner, Jim, said, “You have to go!” Flight booked.

La Ciotat in January.

French winter. My northern Ohio mind said, the further south you can go, the better your chances of good weather. So I’ll be in southern France except for the days in Paris at each end. One Auberge owner where I’ll stay painted a perfect picture of frosty mornings clearing to sunny, balmy days with sweet-scented white and pink almonds in bloom. My kind of guy. But southern France has a wild card: Mistral. Those crazy, relentless winds from the north that have driven normal people mad. As this photo of my friend Elly from a couple years ago shows, it’s nothing to be out painting in.

As a result I’ve taken an avid interest in watching french weather over the past few weeks. There are only occasional days where I see the scary wind symbol. The rest of the days look a whole lot nicer than northeast Ohio. Besides, I love to paint interiors as well as landscapes; the picturesque little auberges where I’ll stay can be great “plan B” subject matter. I’ll share those with you when I get there.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you the third reason and why I’m going alone.

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