A view of a waterwheel
15.03.2013 - 15.03.2013 8 °C
For the next week we're going to enjoy the delight of "living" in Provence in a narrow, three story, "town" house in L'Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue in the Vaucluse region of Provence.
Leaving Marseille yesterday was relatively painless, once we'd done a small lap of the streets near the hotel to get where we wanted to go. The inbuilt GPS in the car was a godsend and got us on the correct road with a minimum of fuss. We took it cautiously in terms of speed but know now to stay in the right hand lane away from things if you're not going fast or overtaking - unlike Australia, the French seem to be good about these things and we got a bit of a lesson on Wednesday when we strayed in the wrong lane.
It was a trip highlight so far that we managed to get through a tollbooth without being tooted and sworn at by a frustrated local motorist. We've been struggling slightly with these as we don't have enough French to understand the signage and we always manage to be in the wrong lane going in. On Wednesday we had to cross four lanes to get to one we wanted and then we couldn't reach the machine to a) get the ticket out and b) pay at the next stop. We've discovered a few things now - firstly to avoid the lanes with a big "T" on them as they're for automated entry (like our City Link), secondly how to fold the mirrors in so that we can get closer to the machine and finally, for me to have money in small denominations handy for feeding into the machine. We've also been leaving the change so hopefully that cheers up the car behind us!!! We're off motorways now as we're in Provence and driving through small towns and villages and glorious rural scenes - much nicer and might be the way to go as we travel around - certainly easier on the heart!
We got here to the town without any trouble - in fact we had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Pam - our landlady. We drove a bit further on and then came back into town and found a park - all free parking but we weren't sure about the signs and what they meant (more on that later). We had a light lunch at Le Bouchon near the river - Hugh had local lamb and I had a fondue (a dish of melted cheese served with a platter of charcuterie and lovely potatoes and salad).
Did I say light??? A couple of classes of a local red and a coffee and it was off to meet Pam. We found the house with little trouble and Pam was waiting outside for us as promised. Feel as though I've known her for ages - as we booked nearly a year ago and have been in correspondence since - so double kisses seemed appropriate. She helped us with our luggage and showed us the house before driving round with us to the garage that we can use if we choose to. As it involves a three point turn and reverse parking off a narrow street - we think we might not use it and park in the street. Apparently there is free parking everywhere with the only restriction being Sundays when the market takes over - we'll just have to find a park over the river tonight (Saturday) and remember where we left it. Everywhere in town is within walking distance so no car is not an issue - and it's good for us.
To describe the house. You come in off the street into a casual lounge area with a couple of tables and two easy chairs. At the back of the house - through the lounge - is one bedroom. It's a good size for us with a comfortable double bed which has the advantage of a good length for Hugh. Plenty of wardrobe space which is great. Up some winding stone stairs and there's a bathroom to the left then up some more and you're at the living floor. This opens up into a good size kitchen which is beautifully stocked and almost makes me want to do some cooking - except that I'm on holiday. The rest of the floor is a tiled lounge/dining area which looks over the street below and the waterwheel across the street. Up some more steps and there's a storage nook and then to the top floor which has another bedroom and bathroom and a door to the roof terrace. It's all gorgeous - full of light from windows and skylights. Has open beams and is fresh and charming. Very happy! Not surprisingly, we've elected to use the ground floor bedroom - much easier on the legs.
After walking and exploring yesterday afternoon - and it's hard to believe that there can be so many streets in such a small area - we came home and had a drink. We bought some French whisky at a bottle shop in town and were looked after by a very friendly and helpful young man - who, mercifully, spoke English. Dinner was at Cafe Fleur on the river and was a celebration as yesterday was our 27th wedding anniversary. We found our way there without trouble - got a bit lost going home though - and were welcomed warmly. Unusually for us we ordered the same dishes - Foie Gras, Filet Bouef and the fromage. It was all amazing - full of flavour and beautifully presented. A bottle of champagne to celebrate and a smooth full bodied local red and we were more than content.
Walking home in the face of the Mistral (look it up - it's a local wind that takes your skin off) was a brisk affair rather than a romantic stroll. It got even brisker when I sent us down the wrong road and we had to find our way home. Manage it we did and crashed straight away. Today is sunny and the wind has gone. Hugh is about to go and buy le petit dejeuner and I'm going into the shower.
Au revoir mes amies. Eh bientot!