DRIVING TO PROVENCE…In The Sunshine!
Saturday, April 28, 2012
We were up, packed and out the door to visit the Saturday market in Beaune before we left town. Marvin…a creative young man talked us into tasting his wares and had sold us freshly roasted peanuts and we enjoyed them the rest of the day as we drove.
A few antique shot glasses for Terry’s collection plus a wooden vase and we were in the car and on our way south before 10:00 am. We did most of our driving today on the Autoroute…Frances’ tollway…to the tune of nearly 30 Euros but it saved us hours of driving time.
Our first stop about noon was in the ancient city of Cluny to see the ruins of the largest church in Europe when it was built in the twelfth century. Nearly destroyed centuries ago; they have slowly begun to preserve the remains. They’ve even begun to restore some parts. One of the most impressive parts is the steps leading down into what would have been the church. They also had a large Saturday market but we didn’t spent any time there. There was a lady with a donkey who took children with their feet in baskets on either side…from the parking area to the market; a tough way to make a living.
We missed our turn off and spent an extra half hour or so backtracking to get to Cluny. Once we finished we did lots of turns and round-d-rounds looking for a McDonalds for lunch. Finally found it…very crowded….but a great little lunch since we had no picnic food in our car with us.
Back on the highway for a long afternoon of driving towards our hotel in Vaison la Romaine in the northern part of Provence. The sun was so warm we finally had to close our sun roof and we definitely had the air conditioning on as it was between 80 and 90 degrees outside. We also had a taste of the mistral winds of Provence this afternoon. What a pleasure to walk outside without coats after nearly four weeks of cold and wet weather.
Just before Vaison la Romaine we took a detour to see an old friend in Mirabel-Aux-Boronnies. The four of us met him on a tour in California in 2007 at a winery in Paseo Robles. In 2009, my twin sister and I visited with him and here we were again. Alain owns the Le Vieux Moulin, an olive oil company and in 2009 he showed us through his new building…still under construction. Today we saw the finished building, a store complete with everything imaginable that can be made with olives and the plant where he produces his olive oil. He speaks no English and is so wonderful to us each time we “appear” at his door in France. When he saw Jim’s business card with the Porsche….he ran to get information to share with Jim about his 1956 Porsche. We had a wonderful time and it was hard to get away….he wanted us to come stay as his guests at his house. We kept saying we had hotel reservations that we were late for.
I had tried to email him before we arrived but for some reason he never got my messages. Anyway…it was a wonderful experience spending time with a travel friend even though we spoke different languages.
It was nearly 7 pm by the time we arrived in Vaison la Romaine and our little B&B Eveche in the Cite Medievals on the hill above the main town. The streets are like stone canyons and we can hear people walking home as they wind their ways through the street. One can just barely drive one car down the street they are so narrow.
As soon as we settled in we walked down to a restaurant called Bistro du’O. Another wonderful dinner full of surprises as the chef presented us with delicious and beautiful plates of food. A slow walk home about 10 pm and we’re tucked in for a good night’s sleep.