A Taste of Provençal Life

Published: April 9th 2017
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Like Belle, I am always in search of adventure! BUT, unlike Belle, a taste of that Provençal life is exactly what I was hoping for on this trip to Provence, France. The boulangeries, patisseries, fromageries, confiseries, even bisquiteries – oo la la! Then there’s the wine - so delicious and more abundant than water. I could have been satisfied just to stay at Café de la Place in little Saint Remy every day, sipping café and eating the amazing warm goat cheese salad, but the beautiful countryside was calling. Staying in Saint Remy with my dear friend, Frederique, I was treated to 10 days in Provence living like a local. We cruised around Luberon with friends in their 1968 Citroen DS – the Cadillac of France in the 60’s. We all laughed as we were regaled with numerous “thumbs up” from French patriots as we passed by. There were vineyards, rows of lavender just ready to burst open, medieval walled cities perched on mountain tops, and everywhere spring flowers popping up across the agrarian countryside. In Avignon, we played both tourist and local – winding through the tight alleys of the city in a tourist train followed by dining with friends

This was taken late morning after many of the goods had been purchased, but still a wonderful aroma and pleasing site!
at a fabulous local restaurant, La Fourchette. A huge papal palace and a bridge from a famous song (Pont d’Avignon) were outstanding remnants from this 14th century town. Did you know that before Rome, Avignon was the home to the Pope? On a rainy day we toured the winding roads and countryside to the chateaux at Les Baux. Here I saw for the first time full size replicas of those ancient war machines, the trebuchet, catapult, and battering ram. They are huge and powerful! Looking across the country vista atop the fortress watchtower felt a bit like being in the middle of one of Ty’s computer games. Everything so peaceful from the distance. Olive trees are around every corner, found in many home gardens as well as expansive groves with tens of thousands of trees. Visiting a local olive mill, I learned the process of making oil and table olives. I now appreciate the taste difference between the picholine and grossane varieties and also was surprised to learn that black olives are simply green olives left on the tree to mature a bit longer. Then there were the walking circuits around the Les Alpilles mountainside. Poorly marked and weaving in and out of private and public spaces, they made for a great way to experience the region up close, including rescues by friendly locals who tried their best to direct us along the right path. Thank goodness Fred speaks perfect French! Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of church bells clanging in the village. We motored to another little village, Mollege, about 20 minutes away to attend morning mass. A tranquil chapel, engaging priest (of course, I would have been more engaged if I could only understand French), and families ranging from young to old deepened my understanding of this Roman Catholic region. A short trip further south to Camargue and an entirely different landscape emerges. Scruffy white horses famous to the region and shiny black long horned bulls dot the countryside fields. The marsh region is home to loads of bird species, including surprisingly enough, the pink flamingo! Also famous in the region is the saltiest salt I’ve ever tasted as well as a nutritious species of long grain rice. Oh, my suitcase is filling up! I simply cannot even carry another bag of lavender, so it must be time to go home. Such a lovely “run away”
Cafe de la Place Cafe de la Place Cafe de la Place

Sipping cafe amidst the quiet rumble of many conversations at this local meeting place with the sun streaming in is one of my favorite memories
with my best runaway pal, Fred. Merci beaucoup and I hope soon, abientot!

Additional photos below
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Just a few of the soft delectable cheeses at St. Remy Wednesday market
Carrieres de LumieresCarrieres de Lumieres
Carrieres de Lumieres

Inside a stone quarry in the mountain, we encountered this amazing show. Imagine, expansive space, towering smooth quarry walls and all is dark. Suddenly, classical music booms and projections of Renaissance type art covers the walls, floors, and even portions of the ceiling. This continues for 20-30 minutes leaving me feeling dwarfed and immersed in the world of the paintings. Such a cool experience!!! I'm sure I would know more, but certainly not have felt more, if I had read all about it before entering the quarry.

This amazing machine could throw 250+lb stones a distance of more than 600'!

This cool machine can throw large rocks more than twice the length of a football field!
battering rambattering ram
battering ram

The tent over the ram serves to protect the rammers from hurled manure, stones, and fire balls!
Watchtower viewWatchtower view
Watchtower view

Climbing the fortress wall to the watchtower involved stepping up narrow original rock steps that were so worn down that it required holding onto a rail to keep from slipping off them.
Roland and Miriam and their Citroen DSRoland and Miriam and their Citroen DS
Roland and Miriam and their Citroen DS

Couldn't ask for a better ride or better companions with which to explore Provencal countryside!
Vineyards and blooming fruit treesVineyards and blooming fruit trees
Vineyards and blooming fruit trees

Typical countryside view

Though this one is particularly scenic, there were many hillside towns such as this in Provence

Basically a notions store with some of this and some of that.....

12th April 2017
Village at Des Baux

Wonderful view
Great view there and good work to catch it so well in the photo. We love to travel on small roads to places not visited by too many tourists. We also love France so hopefully we'll be able to tour the French countryside one day. Thanks for your blog. /Ake

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