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Provence, France CARO / ALAMY MILEAGE PLAN ADVENTURES The hillside Provençal town of Gigondas epitomizes the simple beauty of this famous region of southern France. The Magic of Provence Enjoying the trails and the cuisine in the Dentelles By Nicholas O’Connell My surroundings smell like a spice cabinet. Hiking up a foothills trail, I catch whiffs of thyme, rosemary, lavender and other herbs of Provence. The route heads upward through pine and oak trees on the lower slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a jagged range of limestone peaks in the Côtes du Rhône region of France about 80 miles north of Marseille. At the base of the peaks, I turn to admire a patchwork quilt of silver-green olive orchards, deeper green vineyards and houses with red-tiled roofs. It’s a landscape that has inspired painters from Paul Cézanne to Pablo Picasso, as well as outdoor adventure enthusiasts from around the globe. 152 AAM 08.14 MPA Provence.indd 152 The Dentelles de Montmirail hold one of the most appealing concentrations of climbing, hiking and mountain biking in Europe. The steep limestone ridges con- tain hundreds of climbing routes while dozens of hiking and biking itineraries crisscross the region. The word Montmirail comes from the Latin for admirable moun- tain (mons mirabilis), while Dentelles refers to lace, as in the feathery appearance of the limestone spires, the name thus compos- ing a perfect description of the picturesque landscape of oak, Aleppo pine, limestone towers and endless rows of vineyards. The villages surrounding the Dentelles produce some of the best wines in France—Vacqu- eyras, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise and Châteauneuf-du-Pape—allowing visitors to combine adventure sports with great cui- AUGUST 2014 ALASKA AIRLINES MAGAZINE 7/17/14 3:27 PM