And there are other virtues in this little-known Provence. The sky is at its bluest, the air its purest. At night, there seem to be more stars here than anywhere else in France. (From the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, near the attractive hillside town of Forcalquier, one can read the sky like an open book.) In spring and summer, the fields are alive with fragrant rosemary, wild thyme, savory, juniper bushes, a whole bouquet of blue and pink alpine flowers. Medicinal herbs, still used often in the region as home remedies, seem to grow by the side of every road in the upper regions—gentian, hyssop, mallow. There are three kinds of lavender, stretching across the plains in luminescent clumps, gigantic sunflowers, golden brushes of genista or broom, and bright bitter almond trees.