Friday, March 20, 2009
THE LUBERON REGION IN PROVENCE
Thursday, March 19, 2009 Lazy day in I’Isle Sur La Sorgue
We took our time this morning before heading out for a day spent in our home village. Today is Thursday, the day of the Petit Market; we meandered over towards the church and sure enough they were nearly set up but not totally as it was just after 8:30 am.
We continued to wind our way out towards the main road in the direction of Cavaillon to find the cemetery. For those who knew us as children; our father was the manager of a cemetery so maybe we’re finding our roots? They do lock the gates on the cemeteries at night and even late in the afternoon. We’d driven past this one on our way into town last Saturday so we knew approximately where it was located. Enjoyed checking the dates looking for the oldest ones; there were several for sale and that’s another one for the long journal.
Back to the market where we found some fruit, some homemade candy and almonds that were reasonably priced. Back to our hotel for computer time before our next walk that we took about 2 pm. This time we headed out along the Avenue du Partage des Eaux that runs along the main channel of the Sorgue River coming into town before it reaches the basin and splits into several branches that go all around the old city center. The city is only five miles from the source and per the guide book: never floods and has a constant flow and temperature in all seasons. Mary felt the water and said it was COLD; but we did see some boys swimming later on our walk. There were some beautiful homes along the waterfront.
By the time we decided to find a restaurant for dinner the winds were blowing; we were having a Mistral Wind experience, much like a light Santa Ana Wind in California. It was a cold wind coming down off the snowy peaks of Mount Ventoux. We checked out several places and Mary decided she’d rather visit on of the little shops and purchase something light and eatable as we walked. Both of us enjoyed our quiche and potato patty that they were happy to heat up for us before we left the shop; another inexpensive dinner of less than four euros each. Home to computers, cards and then early to bed. You’ll notice the photo of Mary in the stairwell; we’ve found that when we don’t want to go all the way to the lobby we can sit in the stairwell and connect to the wi-fi! One problem is the timed light keeps going on and off and we have to sit near it or we’re in the dark! We generally use this early in the morning or late at night when we only want to be one for a minute or two.
Friday, March 20, 2009 Very narrow roads
We arrived in our first scheduled hilltop village today of Ansouis about 9 am. It had taken us about an hour’s driving on country roads to find this little known gem off the main highways of tourism. An American author who had lived in France as a child had rediscovered her memories here when she returned to restore an old house as an adult. Her name is Yvone Lenard and her resulting book is “The Magic of Provence – Pleasures of Southern France”. I enjoyed reading it many years ago and had found this little village on a serendipity trip that Jim scheduled on one of our last trips to this area. Her home is located right next to the “required” chateaux … there’s one in every town… and by following the little roads up the hill we were able to drive right to it. But, there was no parking left so I continued to drive looking for a parking place. The street twisted this way and that, up hill then down, around corners that required much backing up to navigate and finally with rearview mirrors turned in and about an inch on either side of the car we had to turn an impossible corner. Mary, who was walking along side the car directing me said afterwards that at this point, one of my rear tires was a foot off the ground…sounds like an exaggeration to me! But I was sweating bullets and had the beginnings of panic. We got around the corner and down about fifteen feet when we saw that at the bottom of the very steep street was a green metal post and a car parked on the other side. We looked back and there was another green post on the only possible place I could back out of our predicament. There was no way I could back around that corner!
I set the brake, we could smell the clutch and the brakes; Mary walked to the street below looking for help. With no French she managed to convince a man to call the city for help to remove the post by unlocking the padlock at the bottom and also to go to the person’s home that owned the car and remove it. Within fifteen minutes we were out and on our way. Madam walking by said “This is not allowed, how did you do this?” I think everyone was floored that we’d managed to get ourselves into such a predicament!
The rest of the day was rather calm as we visited a weekly market in Lourmarin, took photos in Bonnieux where we couldn’t find the market and visited Lacoste. Lacoste is famous originally because it was the home of the Chateaux of the Marquis de Sade, known for his sadistic writings among other things. Today it is owned by the designer Pierre Cardin and you will see his logo: Lacoste on the clothing he sells. Now you know that it is a very old hill town in Provence.
Our last village of the day was Menerbes, made famous twenty years ago by a British Expat named Peter Mayle who wrote the book “A Year in Provence”. A fun day that ended with the cold Mistral Winds again blowing off of Mount Ventoux; something that we were looking most of the day in distant views from hilltop towns of the Luberon.
And so ends another adventure on this wonderful trip....