"The walls, some of them a metre thick, were built to keep out the winds of the Mistral which, they say, can blow the ears off a donkey"

One of the strong winds of the mediterranean that chooses to visit the south of France every year. It was named appropriately by the provencal natives, meaning 'masterly' as its presence is made clear when it arrives by high speed winds that can blow for up to a week at a time. Early Provencal houses were traditionally built with their backs to the south to take the brunt of the wind and many of the bell towers in the region are designed with open iron frameworks to allow the wind to pass through.