|Subject: Provence Remembered: Part 3 of 7|
Tuesday, August 28, 2001
We left in good time and headed South to our next B & B: Mas Vacquieres.
Vacquieres, for the uninformed and knowledge starved, is the Vacquieres part of two small hamlets aptly called Saint Just et Vacquieres. The former consists of a church and a Bureau de Poste and the latter boasts a badly decaying chateau and a group of nearby houses in which the peasants once lived to support the folks who lived in the chateau. The chateau is not lived in, except for pigeons. It is in need of drastic repair. The only part in reasonable shape is the roof. According to the law, the roof must be kept in repair or the property can't be put up for sale. But the property can't be sold because the 20 or so shareholding heirs can't agree on what to do. Neat what and very French!
The Mas Vacquieres, our home for the next five days, is a complex of several joined structures that the previous owners had spent a fortune modernizing. The interiors are bright with lots of decorative furniture and art. Gorgeous stone and tile floors. Our room was half below grade level because it was built into the side of a hill on which stands the aforementioned chateau. The property had a swimming pool that was built into an old stable without a roof. Just magnificent in concept and execution ---the pool that is.
The owners, a young Dutch couple, had recently purchased the property. It being the end of season, and the wife being tired, it was agreed (we had no choice) that evening meals would not be provided. Some B &Bs provide table de hote if arrangements are made in advance. Instead, reservations were made for us to eat at an auberge just up the road.
This unassuming, but friendly establishment, called Le St.-Just served some of the best meals we had. From our bills I see we had truite, melon to die for, filets de sole, and le menu specials which I can't recall. Don't ask just eat is our motto. After having had two dinners at Le St.- Just, I asked the owner if they ever served tartes aux figues (fig tart) since the fruit was in season. We had had this dessert some years back in another part of Provence. He agreed to make for our third night back and it was great.
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
Breakfasts were taken on a small balcony overlooking the valley. Pictures of same and other places mentioned shown by appointment only or by visit to my personal office gallery.
It was on this balcony, which was made of a honey coloured stone, that I made a vow. Wait for it!
I vowed to build a small stone wall around our herb garden to remind us of Provence. This is my Spring 2002 project. Donations of honey coloured stones most appreciated. Receipts on demand.
On Wednesday morning we drove to St. Victor La Coste. This is the village where I spent two weeks some years ago doing volunteer work building stone walls. It is also where the McCarthy's from Toronto have a summer home. They are friends and we have several of his paintings from France and elsewhere.
While in St. Victor I revisited the local pissotiere (public urinals) located below the Marie (municipal offices). Since I had used this facility years ago, the plumbing had been repaired somewhat in that when you flushed the water didn't squirt you in the eye. (The leak was at eye level.) Imagine the Saturday night hilarity at the adjacent bar when the etrangers use the facilities! French bathrooms are of two types: the chic, ultra modern, sanitary, automated variety or not. This was the not kind.
For lunch (more food descriptions) we purchased jambon sec and pate. (Sorry but I have not adjusted the keyboard for the proper accents.) Miracle of miracles the small grocery store had bread for that day only because the bakery was closed on Wednesday's. Makes sense to me.
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