Subject: Provence Remembered: Part 6 of 7
Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001 Last night we were treated to a son et lumiere show: to wit a thunderstorm. While there was lots of rain there was not much evidence of it in the morning because the land was so dry.

It's almost harvest time for grapes and the monster picking machines were being wheeled out. These giants some 12 feet high straddle the vines and vibrate the grapes off. Loved the contrast between the old and the new: old vineyards, new machine whose operator was using a cell phone.

After driving through Lacoste we stop in Menerbes the vacation home village in these parts. Ann descends on the unsuspecting, tired, but wealthy, shop owners while I repair to the local bar to buy a Herald Tribune. In short order she buys a much sought after tassel, a metallic rooster candleholder and a santon.

Santons are somewhat like dolls that depict a series of local characters in costume or carrying the tools of their trade They are also crafted as traditional nativity scenes. Really good ones are much sought after and quite valuable.(For a representative sample visit our dry sink in the kitchen.) On having purchased the santon, the clerk gives us an animated presentation that seems to involve a hairdryer. Turns out that what she is trying to tell us is that you use a hair dryer to dust the santons.

Next is Oppede le Vieux a medieval fortified village that had been abandoned for the past century but was now being restored. On the way up the steep cobbled path a lone hippie-type is selling wilted grapes. When the countryside became safer, the villagers abandoned the village and moved down in the valley to be closer to their fields. This happened in many of these villages including the aforementioned St. Victor La Coste of my wall building fame.

>From Oppede we return for a quick antique fix to Ils sur La Sorgues. Once again we are foiled by the wily French in that the stores are closed on Wednesdays. On to Pernes les Fontaines. This village was on my list of must see places because in addition to walls and cemetaries I like fountains. This place was supposed to have almost a hundred of them. The locals had cleverly hidden 98 of them when they heard we were coming. Instead, we were greeted by a bunch of bored teenagers who were zooming around the village square on motorbikes with their cigarette smoking molls on back.

After a standard lunch beside a moss covered, but empty fountain, in Pernes sans Fountaines we visited the hill (aren't they all by now) village of Venasque. I had originally booked a B &B here but had to cancel because my dates were out by a week. This is one cool beautiful village: a must for the next time.

Picnic dinner tonight was purchased in a butcher shop in Coustellet on the N100. The shop had the most incredible wine cellar in the basement. In addition to wine, we had ham, goat's cheese, fresh bread and pastries.

After dinner another short snooze at Les Trois Sources, some reading and then to bed.

Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001

Yesterday was a full day. First below the N100 and then just above it.

Today we are off to Lourmarin again to check out a neat soap and beauty products and an antique store that were closed earlier. Bad news. They are still closed.

We drove back North past Bonnieux to Roussillon. This village (hill top) is unique in that all the buildings are tinted a reddish brown ochre. The ochre cliffs had been mined for dyes prior to chemical dyes having been developed. They had some really neat pottery there. I regret not having bought a piece. Lunch was at the restaurant David. Bill says we had the menu regional, pichet (pitcher) of wine, omelette champignons, mineral water dessert and two coffees tab 323 FF or about $80 CDN

Next stop Gordes. This is a hilltop village to end all hilltop villages. See my North office wall for details. Notwithstanding that it is a tourist mecca, it is well worth the trip. Ann bought a birdcage for a plant holder and a santon. The birdcage in the carryon got a real chuckle from the security types when we boarded our return flight from Lyon.

#three more exciting days to come