|Subject: Provence Remembered: Part 5 of 7|
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001
In the morning we drove to nearby St. Quentin la Poterie. We had both been to this village before. The time before everything had been closed. Now shops were partly open it being close to noon on Saturday. This village has been the source for making all kinds of large and small pots, vases and decorative objects d'art some of it real far out stuff. Parts of St. Quentin look as if the Hippies of the 60's are alive and well and living in a time warp there.
>From St. Quentin we drove North to the medieval village of Lussan. After waiting for the sun to come out I took some great pictures of the village and an iron grill work clock tower. This type of construction is common in Provence. The grillwork stands up better than stone to the high wind of the Mistral.
The Mistral, which blows down the Rhone valley is like no other wind. The locals express great apprehension when it arrives. It affects people's moods. It certainly affected the design of farmhouses in that no farmhouse has doors which open directly to the North. Shrubs and cypress trees are also planted along the North side of properties as wind breaks.
Tomorrow we are off to our third B &B called Les Trois Sources just East of Avignon. Les Trois Sources is in the shadow of an exquisite little hill village called Bonnieux. This is Peter Mayle country: A Year in Provence and Encore Provence.
Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001
Since it was Sunday we took the opportunity on route to revisit L'Isle Sur La Sorgues. Everyone in this part of the world had the same idea. Parking was almost a km away from the flea market, regular market and antique shops. The town is antique heaven. There must be at least 50 regular antique and decorating shops mostly of the upscale variety.
Over a basic sidewalk type restaurant meal (variety of hot veggie and pate selections) the folks were treated to the singing of old songs by a man and woman. For accompaniment he had an organ grinding type instrument that used punched paper to activate the notes. Even though we understood about a tenth of his patois we contributed generously when the hat was passed. He could really work the crowd. Some of the patrons invited him to have a drink as well. I'm sure we had seen this character there previously.
Late in the afternoon Ann found a copper mould which the dealer had marked down especially for us#an end of day special. Yes and pigs can fly!
Our digs at Les Trois Sources were at the top of 30 stone spiral steps in a 15th century fortified farmhouse. Great view of Bonnieux especially magical at night when the church at the top and the village were lit. Our room was very clean and felt slightly monastic.
After a short snooze we were off to nearby Lacoste for dinner. Lacoste's claim to fame is that the infamous Marquis de Sade lived in the castle there. The castle was, I believe, owned by the Chicago Art School but has recently been purchased by one of the Paris fashion moguls. Lacoste was closed tight except for a bar and a restaurant that was barely visible from the road. On arriving at the patio, we shared a table with a roving cat on the parapet. For dinner we had hot goat's cheese salad, excellent pasta, lamb curry and chocolate cake.
For our view there was a full harvest moon over Bonnieux.
Monday, Sept. 3, 2001
After a modest breakfast of croissants, two kinds of bread, three kinds of jam, local honey along with several café au laits we set off through the ravines to our favourite village about 20 minutes away: Lourmarin.
Last year we had stayed in Lourmarin in a magnificent house called Villa St. Louis right in the village. The wealth in this area from folks owning vacation homes is incredible. In this village of no more than 500 people there was a kitchen store that had the most extensive collection of pots, pans, stoves and related gadgets I have seen anywhere. I was particularly enchanted by a wine bottle opener in its wooden case selling for 1,200 FF or about $300 CDN. Oh well perhaps next year!
Lunch was at a place called La Recreation. We had been there before but this time I was in for a surprise. I was half way through what I thought was the main course when a rather severe looking female person snatched the dish away while I was poised for the next bite. She explained that there had been a mistake and that what I was eating was not the intended plate. This little scene caused a bit of levity with the nearby patrons. When the stuffed aubergines finally came they were worth the wait.
After lunch we did a great circle tour of Bonnieux: Fort de Buox, Cadenet (has cash machine), Cucoron, La Bastide de Jourdans, Cereste and Apt (shopped for picnic dinner). Except for Apt, which is a large town, many of these rural farming villages have been taken over by vacationers. Some villages are really isolated but very picturesque. All of this involved a six-hour drive over roads that have been described previously. The balance of our explorations will be to the NW of here where the countryside is mostly broad valley or tablelands. #more to come