|Subject: Provence Rembered: Part 7 of 7|
The final chapter.
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001
We have breakfast most mornings in the courtyard under a large
mulberry bush. The courtyard is sheltered from the wind by the
building itself on three sides and by a large sturdy wood gate on the
fourth. The walls in our part of the structure must be almost two
feet thick. No sounds once people are in their rooms. The interior of
courtyard is gravel (great for hearing guests arrive) and has lots of
planters and flowerpots. Stone benches abound. There are several
bicycles available for guests and a pool just outside the gate and
below the vineyard.
At breakfast we say goodbye to another Aussie couple who have been staying at Les Trois Sources. I think that they have seven or eight rooms which during our stay have all been occupied. I never did ask our hosts where the name came from. Must have been related to water if you recall the French movie called Manon des Sources.
Our hostess here has been what I always imagine as typically French. Attractive, well groomed, stylish, great decorating and presentation skills and formally correct with strangers.
As we leave and wend our way North on the scenic route, as opposed to taking the Autoroute, the first major town we pass is Carpentras. At le Barroux we visit a castle that is being restored after having been set on fire in 1944. I have a terrific picture of the village as taken from the castle. Malaucene is the next village while Crestet , which we visited last year, is on our left.
Vaison La Romaine is our stop for lunch. We stayed in Vaison last year. Well worth a visit: roman ruins, great old town, classy B &B's and excellent restaurants. On the subject of restaurants we returned to the Auberge de la Bartavelle. Superb food.
>From Vaison we continue North through Nyons the olive centre in these parts and then just past Valaurie where we come to the last B &B called La Croix du Gres.
I am running out of superlatives to describe the location. It is well off the main road. Again it is a large complex of buildings that have been added to from time to time. This place has lots of activity: eight horses, three cats and two dogs. The horses are the chatelaine's hobby. She even has a specially built truck to take them to shows.
The owners originally came from Belgium and at the moment their daughter, granddaughter and husband were visiting from Dubai where he manages a Marriott hotel. His parents are visiting as well. There are at least 10 rooms or small apartments here.
This is the only B&B where we had dinner: a puree of zucchini soup with cream, lamb stew, cheeses, wine, fruit, custard dessert and coffee.
At breakfast we met the entire clan and traded travelers' tall tales. All of these folk had been to the USA or Canada.
Friday, Sept. 7, 2001
The breakfast selection we had today was the best ever: yogurt, cheese, cereal, fruit, bread, jams and powerful black coffee. We arranged for a 6:30 a.m. breakfast for the next day.
First exploratory stop today was Grignan a few kms just East of here. After taking pictures of yet another castle I headed to the local cemetery.
As faithful readers will know, I have a thing about cemeteries. (Ann doesn't share this particular interest and so missed the action.) This one had folks buried in raised tombs the size and decorations of which trace the changes in family wealth or prosperity over time. Almost all had small plaques on top which were from family members or friends. These plaques are made of marble usually and say from a loving sister, uncle or similar. I went to a small church nearby and on entering heard some kind of funeral lament being sung in English. There were only about five persons in the church and I couldn't tell if the singing was from a tape or from the congregation. No priest or others were seen. Hauntingly beautiful and Ann missed it.
In the village we struck shoppers gold. Exquisite little shops where we bought a cuddly toy for Andrea and Matt's forthcoming daughter and some soap. I took what turned out to be my all time favourite village street scene: a must see when visiting our home galleries
>From Grignan we went a few kms North to visit the Abbey Notre Dame de Aiguebelle. I had been there last year but Ann had not. In any event, the Abbey is located in a small valley. It, the Abbey, does not appear to be old but it is beautiful in a way that religious buildings are in France.
Once again we arrived in time for the gift shop to close. On hearing the chapel bells we headed for the noon service. The monks filed in wearing white cloaks, hoods and sandals. Some could barely manage to make it to the choir. We stayed to listen to the singing, prayers and readings. Ann thought they led a great life. No worries or cares she claimed.
On the way back we tried to find a restaurant in Valaurie. No luck but I did manage to squeeze our car into a narrow lane and ended in someone's back or front yard. This was not the first time I had risen to this kind of driving challenge. Hopefully, it won't be the last. I like to follow roads into dead ends. It's a macho genetic thing.
The problem of lunch was solved at the three star Domaine les Mejonnes just up the road from our B&B. Great 98FF, about $20 CDN per person menu: salad, salmon quiche with leak, a small bird or foul of some kind, veggies, rice and dessert of cake in a pear sauce followed by samplers of fresh fruit. Notwithstanding our one meal out rule, we are going back again before heading out tomorrow,
On returning from lunch, Ann spent the afternoon packing while I pretended to help. During the afternoon I had read in Friday's Herald Tribune that Air Transat had been grounded for long haul flights that were more than 90 minutes from an airport. This had all come about because they had run out of fuel on a flight to Europe and had to glide to land in, I think, the Azores. Telephone calls to Paris indicated no change in departure plans.
Once more to the Domaine for dinner: melon and smoked salmon plate, lamb with veggies, fromage blanc, lemon tart, cake with hot chocolate sauce and a herb garden flavoured sorbet.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001
We had a restless night either as a result of too much dinner, airport anxiety, or both. Other than making the wrong turn near Lyon ( the only time the signs on the Autoroute or any other roads were not clear) because my maps were not explicit enough we arrived in time. We left our trusty little car with Avis.
The flight home was uneventful. Some of the same children were back. By this time they almost seemed like friends.
Fin. A la prochaine.