Two very different days in Provence
16.03.2013 - 17.03.2013 8 °C
The weather can play havoc with a holiday if you let it – we’ve decided that the trick is to go with the flow and manage accordingly.
Yesterday – Saturday – was gorgeous. The Mistral had dropped, the sky was blue and still and the weather was edging up to a balmy 16 degrees. Hugh boldly wandered off to the Boulanger and brought croissants and pan du chocolat for our breakfast. His task was helped by having a native New Yorker running the place but why ruin the story. After breakfast we found the car and drove off toward the Luberon. Those of you who have read Peter Mayle’s books will know that this area was where he lived and is what he wrote about in “A Year in Provence” etc. As these books are one of the reasons that we’re here at all, it was something of a pilgrimage for us and was tres tres exciting to find so many familiar towns and villages.
We managed to avoid the motorways – firstly because we’re sick of battling the tolls and second and most importantly, we want to see the countryside – and made our way to Menerbes. This is a lovely hilltop village/town which was Mayle’s home in the early books. It’s not quite the town it was back then as the books have made it a tourist destination – hello, that’s why we went – and there are now huge car and coach parks outside of the town with visitors encouraged to park and walk. No problem for us. Even better, not many people around so we parked, we looked and we lunched. As the sun was shining we sat outside and enjoyed a light repast of Thom Rouge (Red Tuna) with an Asparagus Mash and a Pistou sauce – delicious! Hugh had his first Pastis (Ricard) of the trip – he’d hoped to have it in Marseille but it really wasn’t the weather for it – I had a Kir au Vin Blanc and we shared a carafe of local Rose`. All so good!
After a little walk around the village – all it really needed as it’s a tiny place – we drove on to Bonnieux. This is another hilltop town which doesn’t have the parking outside and is seriously windy and narrow. Hugh managed it magnificently – tricky enough at home, a nightmare when you’re on the “wrong” side of the road. We decided not to stop – parking may have been a challenge – and instead looked for Buoux. There is a restaurant there called the Augerge du Loube which is mentioned heavily in the books and is still serving meals as described. We had thought about going there for lunch one day in the week but having seen it – and experienced the drive – we think not. Had a drive around the Luberon area and saw some magnificent sights – sadly didn’t take photos – before heading for home.
We’d heard the warning about where to park on Sundays because of the market so we managed to find a spot near the house and by the hospital. Seems weird just leaving it in the street but there’s nothing in it so should be fine. After a drink and a read, we went to find some dinner. By this time the wind had come up again and the temperature dropped so there weren’t a lot of people around. We were well rugged up and found a place on the outside of the L’Isle. It was a noisy cheerful café – welcoming and warm and good simple food. We both had Steak au Frites and a bottle of the Vin Pays. Actually felt like dessert so we enjoyed a Crème Brulee and coffee. I’m actually turning into a coffee drinker – weird but true. Even at “home” I can’t be bothered with tea – I’m sure this will change when I leave the country.
This morning the world was a very different place to yesterday. The wind had whipped up in the night and had brought rain with it. We didn’t rush this morning – I did some washing, Hugh went to make sure the car was still there. Had a small drama when the washing machine tripped the circuit breaker – twice – but we got the load done and all is fine.
Off to our first French market and supposed to be a huge affair. Hm – not so huge by the time we got there. Because of the weather, the crowds were down and many of the stall holders were shutting up when we got there – which was only 1030 or so. Never mind, we ploughed on and bought some goodies. A selection of fromage – chevre, Brie, Livarot – some saucisson sanglier (boar sausage) – as a side, the saucissson seller had a wonderful range of sausages including donkey. I may be a wimp but I wasn’t quite ready to try that. We also bought some bread and tapenade. Reasoning that the weather was so ghastly that we weren’t likely to want to go out again we bought some Paella and chicken from a stall and will warm them up for our dinner tonight. Some more Vin Pays and whisky and we’re laughing.
The rest of the day has been an “at home” one. Hugh had a walk after lunch while I slept and then we both headed out about 1500 for a walk. I posted off some cards and we had a coffee in the square at the Café de France. Home again, Hugh’s having a snooze, I’m talking to you and that’s the update.
BTW – a big thank you to those of you who are leaving us comments about the blog. I’ve always just kept a private journal when we’re travelling and not shared it with the world before. It’s nice to know that there’s a point to it and that others are enjoying our travels. Au revoir mes amies!