Category: Roussillon

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

There’s a new obsession running around in my head: “visit as many of France’s ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages‘ as I possibly can.”

So far, I’ve seen only 10 out of some 156 “authentic” Les Plus Beaux Villages. I have a lot of traveling to do.

Les Plus Beaux Villages

There are 156 communities in France with the distinction of being a beaux village. Most are in the Dordogne and Aveyron departments. Vancluse and Lot are next with seven and six beaux villages respectively.

Most Beautiful Villages in France

The designation “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” was borrowed from the Reader’s Digest book of the same name. Charles Ceyrac, mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge, one of the villages featured in the book, believed his village and others like it could be revitalized economically if they joined together and promoted themselves as the most beautiful villages in France.

The criteria for the title was based on (1) the character and population of a village: rural with no more than 2,000 inhabitants; (2) two national heritage sites; and (3) the local council of the municipality must have voted on the application.

In 1981 mayors from 66 villages joined Collonges to form the association.

So far, these are Les Plus Beaux Villages I’ve visited. Click on the name of each village to learn and see more. Enjoy!

Eguisheim

Riquewihr

Domme

La Roque-Gageac

Les Baux-de-Provence

Gordes

Lourmarin

Menerbes

Roussillon

Najac

Yes, I have a lot of traveling to do.

If you have thoughts on the Beaux Villages I shouldn’t miss, please leave a comment. Let’s all go!

 

Samuel Beckett’s Roussillon, France

The red hills of Roussillon are an inspiration for artists, but I had no idea how many famous authors came to visit Roussillon.

On my first visit to Roussillon, while riding along the winding roads of the Luberon, I was amazed to see the massive red hills up ahead. They seemed to appear from nowhere. The nearby towns had only small tinges of red.

“How is it possible for so much red to be in one place?” I said to myself.

Then I learned, as others before me, that Roussillon is like a stoplight, insisting that all who pass stay awhile.

Visit Roussillon

Red hills of Roussillon

You only have to look around to understand why artists love Roussillon. It was as surprise to me, however, to discover how many great authors passed this way.

For example, Peter Mayle’s best-selling book, A Year in Provence, was inspired by Roussillon. Laurence Wylie’s, A Village in the Vaucluse was set there too. It was the fact that Samuel Beckett lived in Roussillon that really surprised me. In fact, life in the 1940s village greatly affected his writing, most notably, his play, “Waiting for Godot” (En Attendant Godot).

I remember seeing “Waiting for Godot” many years ago at the Playmaker’s Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC. With season tickets to the University of North Carolina theatre, I saw many popular plays performed by the renowned repertoire cast. To me, “Waiting for Godot” was one of the best. In its simplicity the play spoke volumes.

Perhaps it was “Waiting for Godot” that convinced me I had to travel and see the world.

Indeed, I was not going to spend my life “Waiting for Godot.” 

Visit Roussillon

Caspar David Friedrich painting which may have inspired “Waiting for Godot”

Samuel Beckett’s Roussillon

It is said that Samuel Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot” because of a painting by German artist Caspar David Friedrich. To describe it simply, the painting is of two people standing on a pathway staring at the moon.  Beckett’s storyline has pretty much the same theme. The entire play takes place on one spot on a road, beside a tree.

The play is viewed as a masterpiece of post–modernism. Indeed the author paints a simple, rather vague picture of the village, Roussillon.  Some say the characters and their stories are straight out of life in and around the 1940’s village and the War.

For example, the character Vladimir speaks of ochre quarries and picking grapes for a man named Bonnelly. Tales of starvation, hiding in trenches, and threats of beatings are, perhaps, Beckett’s own remembrances of time with the French  Resistance. He pictures Lucky, a man who is starving, tied to a paunchy man with a whip, Pozzo — a scene that calls up thoughts of Nazi concentration camps. Beckett winds all these tales together with vaudeville humor and mime.

Written in French

Perhaps the most astounding fact about Beckett, to this American who somehow refuses to learn French, is that he wrote his most famous works in French. Yes, an Irishman from Dublin chose to pen in French. To Beckett, English was too literal.  He could write in a more colloquial style in French.

Beckett preferred to express himself in French even in his last work,  a poem entitled “Comment Dire.”

In 1988 Beckett was diagnosed with aphasia, a condition defined as the “loss of speech, partial or total, or loss of power to understand written or spoken language, as a result of disorder of the cerebral speech centers” (OED). Before he died he regained his ability to speak and to read. His writing, again, showed his determination to understand the unexplainable. “Comment Dire“, “How do you say”, with its dashes and repetitions, shows an artist’s everlasting search for words. 

Visit RoussillonSamuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot”

 

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For more about Roussillon:

Why Roussillon is “Red”: Fact and Fable

Fall … In Love With Provence

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Provence Holidays

Provence Holidays:The Magical Colors of the Luberon

With tourists heading on their Provence holidays to the Luberon to see lavender fields, Roussillon is along the way with its equally vibrant colors of red, orange and pink. These stories, fact and fiction about the multi-colored town, inform and amuse those who venture there.  

Provence Holidays

The French commune of Roussillon is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, roughly midway between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. It is in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world — one that extends from Apt to Roussillon via Gargas and Rustrel.

Ochre deposits lend a natural reddish-brown hue to the village of Roussillon, giving the entire area the nickname “Colorodo Provençal”. In Roussillon the ochre facades of the houses vary from light yellow to dark red. Set off by the brightly painted shutters and doors, these houses form a striking contrast against lush green pine trees. To many, Roussillon is one the most beautiful villages in France.

The History of Ochre

Millions of years ago, Roussillon was covered by the sea. When the waters dried up, the area was left with ochre-bearing limestone hills. Like today, stone formations were stained with coloured clays in every conceivable iron oxide pigment from yellow to purple. Ochres, the colored clays found as a soft deposit, were intermingled with pockets of harder crystalline iron ore, in fairly even horizontal layers, of variable thicknesses.Provence Holidays

Fast-forward to 300,000 years ago. Man discovered ochre. The natural pigment with indelible color was used to embellish the caves that man inhabited. Since then ochre has been a coloration for everything from cave paintings, to pottery, to body paint, to tattoos. Proof lies in some French burial sites from 200,000 years ago. They have red ochre floors that are eight inches thick. Also, there are skeletons found at the sites, sprinkled with red powder, making researchers wonder if the powder was remnants of tattoos, applied as funeral rites, or if it was used to mask the odor of death. In any case, only skeletons and red ochre pigment are left in these burial sites.

Ochre quarries

Around the time of the French Revolution the demand for ochre was at an all-time high, due mostly to the textile industry. The industrial process for making ochre pigment was developed by the French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier from Roussillon. He invented a way to produce pigment on a large scale.

Mining ochre in Roussillon intensified. As many as seventeen different shades of dye were manufactured from the local rock. By the end of the 19th century ochre from Roussillon was exported all over the world. It was not only used for artists paints and house paints, it also became an important ingredient for the early rubber, linoleum, paper, and cardboard industries.

Ochre supported the economic base of Roussillon until shortly after World War II, even though mining stopped in the 1930’s to protect the sites from degradation or even complete destruction.The economic crisis of 1929 didn’t help business either. Foreign markets closed down one by one. The industry suffered another hit in the 1950’s. The introduction of synthetic pigments sent the industry into a downward spiral. Ochre production finally stopped mass production in the village in 1958. 

Provence HolidaysOchre is enjoying a much-deserved revival; although only one company in the area still operates. Fortunately for tourists In Roussillon, you can take a walk along the footpath of the Sentier des Ocres and appreciate the beauty of the ochre cliffs. The Conservatoire des Ocres et des Pigments Appliqués is located in one of the factories that fell into disuse over 50 years ago. Inside, tours and lectures are offered to help preserve the important history of ochre and the region. 

Why is Roussillon “Red”? Your Provence Holiday Fable

For those who want to know the real story …

...embellished by the Barefoot Blogger

MSMS6-119.53647Once upon a time there was a lovely young damsel named Sermonde. She was married to the Lord of Roussillon, Raymond d’Avignon. Like many Medieval lords, Raymond loved to hunt. He’d spend weeks on end with his men friends killing wild animals for sport and trophies. He was absent from the château so much, in fact, that Lady Sermonde grew sad and lonely.

She began going out to the local nightspots with her Lady friends. 

One night out on the town, Sermonde met a handsome young troubadour named Guillaume. They fell in love instantly. Soon the Lady and her Troubadour were involved in a torrid affair.Provence Holidays

Everyone in the village knew of the tryst between the Lady and the troubadour. They also knew that when Lord Raymond found out,  he would make the couple pay dearly.

Sooner than later Lord Raymond learned of his wife’s dastardly deception.

Rather than confront her, Lord Raymond suggested Sermonde invite her new friend, Guillaume, over for a drink. Pretending to enjoy Guillaume’s company, Lord Raymond asked the troubadour to join him on a hunt the next day.

Thinking the Lord knew nothing of his Lady’s affair, Guillaume graciously accepted the invitation. The two men left the next morning, guns in hand. 

In the early afternoon Lord Raymond returned to the Chateau. Alone.

“Where is Guillame, the troubadour?” Lady Sermonde said, greeting her husband at the door.

“Why … he’s been delayed a bit,” Lord Raymond replied. ” He’ll join us later,” he added. “… for dinner.”

With that, Lord Raymond turned around and headed for the kitchen. He often prepared meals that featured the spoils of his hunts.

When day turned to dusk, Lady Sermonde left her boudoir and walked downstairs to the dining room. Expecting to see her lover, Guillaume, waiting for her, she was surprised to see only her husband, Lord Raymond.

“You were expecting your friend, Guillame?” the Lord asked slyly? “He’ll be here any moment,” he said. “Let’s be seated. I’m certain he won’t be upset if we start.”

Politely, Lord Raymond led Sermonde to her place at the table. He returned to his seat opposite hers and began carving the main course.

With great pride, he presented his wife a plate filled with his day’s bounty. “Here,” he proclaimed. “Enjoy!”

Lady Sermonde took a bite of her dinner, then another. Realizing that the “meat” served to her had an unusual taste and texture, she remarked: “This, my dear Lord Raymond, is a most uncommon creature, is it not? Have you found a new type beast to bring to our table,” she asked.

“Yes, indeed,” said the Lord gleefully; “I hope you like it, my dear.”

“It is a pity our friend Guillame could not be here to enjoy this delightful meal with us,” stated Lady Sermonde.

“Au contraire,” Lord Raymond chirped. “He is here,, “he chimed. “Guillaume is the main attraction, the main course.”

Lady Sermonde dropped her fork.  Her mouth flew wide open. She screamed. Her screams filled the room, the château, and soon, the village. Before the Lord or servants could catch her, Sermonde ran to the top of the château’s highest tower; she threw open the window; and she jumped.

Down her blood flowed, onto the hills, into the valley below. Lady Sermonde’s blood colored the earth around Roussillon.  Forever and today.

Provence Holidays

 

 

Provence Holidays

Check out Shutters and Sunflowers for more information about the Luberon.

 

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Fall … In Love With Provence

The Barefoot Blogger’s mid-week drive into Provence inspired some stunning photos to share. This time of year brings out my very favorite colors in the crayon box.

Fall in Provence

Fall in Provence

Plane trees along the drive into Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

Outside Lourmarin

 

 

Fall in Provence

Bonnieux

 

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Roussillon

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Thanks to the friends who help color my world. 

Fall in Provence

Rich and Paula in Roussillon along with new Barefoot Blogger friend, Aggie.

Note: Most photos picture Roussillon

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12 Things You’ll Miss in France This Year

The Barefoot Blogger’s “Must” Hit List
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In case you haven’t heard, this is the year to visit France. The euro to US dollar is at a twelve-year low. If you don’t already have your bags packed, here are a few things you’ll surely miss staying at home.

#1

Sunset on the French Rivera

Sunset on the French Rivera

 

#2

 

Un-shuttered windows and flowerpots

Un-shuttered windows and pots with bright flowers

 

#3

 

Narrow, winding, ancient village streets

Narrow, winding, ancient streets

 

#4

 

Morning breaking over stone skycaps

Morning breaking over stone skyscapes

 

#5

 

Vineyards and poppies and chateaus  with tile roofs

Vineyards and poppies and chateaus with tile roofs

 

#6

 

Bright lights on sparkling water

Brilliant lights and sparkling waters

 

#7

 

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Quiet walks on sleepy canals

 

 

#8

 

Finding wonder through peepholes

Finding wonder through peepholes

 

#9

 

Music in the streets

Music in the streets

 

#10

 

Busy sidewalks and Saturday Markets

Sidewalk cafes and Saturday Markets

 

#11

 

Majestic cathedrals

Majestic cathedrals

 

 

HISTORY

HISTORY

Where will it be?

2015-03-30 09.35.02

 

 

 

 

Roussillon: For Art and Authors

Roussillon: For Art and Authors by the Barefoot Blogger

The red hills of Roussillon appear seemingly from nowhere as you ride along the winding road of the Luberon. Once you see it clearly, you know this tiny village is special.

“How is it possible that so much red is in one place?” you say to yourself. The towns nearby have only small tinges of red. Yet this place is like a stoplight — insistent that all who try to pass stay for a while.

It is obvious that artists have forever loved Roussillon; but just recently, I discovered how many authors passed this way … and stayed for a while.

Red hills of Roussillon

Red hills of Roussillon

Peter Mayle’s best-selling book, A Year in Provence, was inspired by Roussillon. As was Laurence Wylie’s book, A Village in the Vaucluse. Surprising to me, Samuel Beckett lived here and his life in the 1940s village greatly affected his writing — most notably his most famous play, “Waiting for Godot” (En Attendant Godot).

I remember seeing “Waiting for Godot” many years ago at the Playmaker’s Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC. Season tickets to the University of North Carolina theatre took me to many performances by the renowned repertoire cast. “Waiting for Godot” was one of the best, to me. In its simplicity, the play spoke volumes about life.

Perhaps it was experiencing “Waiting for Godot,” that determined me to travel and to see the world.

Indeed, I was not going to spend my life “Waiting for Godot.” 

It is said that Samuel Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot” because of a painting by German artist Caspar David Friedrich. Two people standing on the roadside are staring at the moon. Many critics say Beckett’s storyline is just as simple.The entire play is staged in one spot on the road, beside a tree.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Mann_und_Frau_in_Betrachtung_des_Mondes_-_Alte_Nationalgalerie_Berlin

Caspar David Friedrich painting which may have inspired “Waiting for Godot”

Others who value Beckett’s work enough to award the playwright a Nobel Prize for Literature, view the play as a masterpiece of post–modernism. Indeed the artist paints a simple, rather vague, picture of the village, Roussillon.  It is the characters and their stories, however, that put meaning into life in and around the 1940’s village and the War.

For example, the character Vladimir speaks of ochre quarries and picking grapes for a man named Bonnelly. Tales of starvation, hiding in trenches, and threats of beatings are, perhaps, Beckett’s own remembrances of time with the French  Resistance. The starving Lucky who is tied to paunchy Pozzo with a whip reeks of Nazi concentration camps. Beckett winds all these tales together with vaudevillian humor and mime.

Written in French

Perhaps the most astounding fact about Beckett, to this American who somehow refuses to learn French, is that his most famous works were written in French. Yes, an Irishman from Dublin chose to pen in French because it was: “easier to write ‘without style.'” Meaning, he felt that he could write in a more colloquial style in French. To Beckett, English was too literal.

Beckett preferred to express himself in French even in his last work,  a poem entitled “Comment Dire.”

In 1988 Beckett was diagnosed with aphasia, a condition defined as the “loss of speech, partial or total, or loss of power to understand written or spoken language, as a result of disorder of the cerebral speech centers” (OED). Before he died he regained his ability to speak and to read. His writing, again, showed his determination to understand the unexplainable. “Comment Dire”, with its dashes and repetitions, shows an artist’s undying compulsion to search for words. 

folie –
folie que de –
que de
comment dire

(Madness – madness to – than how to say)

Beckett_Davidson

Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot”

 

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Why Roussillon is “Red”: Fact and Fable

Why Roussillon is “Red”: Fact and Fable

The Barefoot Blogger – as seen in France Today 

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The French commune of Roussillon is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, roughly midway between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. It is in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world — one that extends from Apt to Roussillon via Gargas and Rustrel.

Ochre deposits lend a natural reddish-brown hue to the village of Roussillon, giving the entire area the nickname “Colorodo Provençal”. In Roussillon the ochre facades of the houses vary from light yellow to dark red. Set off by the brightly painted shutters and doors, these houses form a striking contrast against lush green pine trees. To many, Roussillon one the most beautiful villages in France.

The History of Ochre

Millions of years ago, Roussillon was covered by the sea. When the waters dried up, the area was left with ochre-bearing limestone hills. Like today, stone formations were stained with coloured clays in every conceivable iron oxide pigment from yellow to purple. Ochres, the colored clays found as a soft deposit, were intermingled with pockets of harder crystalline iron ore, in fairly even horizontal layers, of variable thicknesses.images-2

Fast-forward to 300,000 years ago. Man discovered ochre. The natural pigment with indelible color was used to embellish the caves that man inhabited. Since then ochre has been a coloration for everything from cave paintings, to pottery, to body paint, to tattoos. Proof lies in some French burial sites from 200,000 years ago. They have red ochre floors that are eight inches thick. Also, there are skeletons found at the sites, sprinkled with red powder, making researchers wonder if the powder was remnants of tattoos, applied as funeral rites, or if it was used to mask the odor of death. In any case, only skeletons and red ochre pigment are left in these burial sites.

Ochre quarries

Around the time of the French Revolution the demand for ochre was at an all-time high, due mostly to the textile industry. The industrial process for making ochre pigment was developed by the French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier from Roussillon. He invented a way to produce pigment on a large scale.

Mining ochre in Roussillon intensified. As many as seventeen different shades of dye were manufactured from the local rock. By the end of the 19th century ochre from Roussillon was exported all over the world. It was not only used for artists paints and house paints, it also became an important ingredient for the early rubber, linoleum, paper, and cardboard industries.

Ochre supported the economic base of Roussillon until shortly after World War II, even though mining stopped in the 1930’s to protect the sites from degradation or even complete destruction.The economic crisis of 1929 didn’t help business either. Foreign markets closed down one by one. The industry suffered another hit in the 1950’s. The introduction of synthetic pigments sent the industry into a downward spiral. Ochre production finally stopped mass production in the village in 1958. 

605-4e36c075efe6d-642x330-7Ochre is enjoying a much-deserved revival; although only one company in the area still operates. Fortunately for tourists In Roussillon, you can take a walk along the footpath of the Sentier des Ocres and appreciate the beauty of the ochre cliffs. The Conservatoire des Ocres et des Pigments Appliqués is located in one of the factories that fell into disuse over 50 years ago. Inside, tours and lectures are offered to help preserve the important history of ochre and the region. 

Why is Roussillon “Red”? The Fable

For those who want to know the real story …

...embellished by the Barefoot Blogger

MSMS6-119.53647Once upon a time there was a lovely young damsel named Sermonde. She was married to the Lord of Roussillon, Raymond d’Avignon. Like many Medieval lords, Raymond loved to hunt. He’d spend weeks on end with his men friends killing wild animals for sport and trophies. He was absent from the château so much, in fact, that Lady Sermonde grew sad and lonely.

She began going out to the local nightspots with her Lady friends. 

One night out on the town, Sermonde met a handsome young troubadour named Guillaume. They fell in love instantly. Soon the Lady and her Troubadour were involved in a torrid affair.images

Everyone in the village knew of the tryst between the Lady and the troubadour. They also knew that when Lord Raymond found out,  he would make the couple pay dearly.

Sooner than later Lord Raymond learned of his wife’s dastardly deception.

Rather than confront her, Lord Raymond suggested Sermonde invite her new friend, Guillaume, over for a drink. Pretending to enjoy Guillaume’s company, Lord Raymond asked the troubadour to join him on a hunt the next day.

Thinking the Lord knew nothing of his Lady’s affair, Guillaume graciously accepted the invitation. The two men left the next morning, guns in hand. 

In the early afternoon Lord Raymond returned to the Chateau. Alone.

“Where is Guillame, the troubadour?” Lady Sermonde said, greeting her husband at the door.

“Why … he’s been delayed a bit,” Lord Raymond replied. ” He’ll join us later,” he added. “… for dinner.”

With that, Lord Raymond turned around and headed for the kitchen. He often prepared meals that featured the spoils of his hunts.

When day turned to dusk, Lady Sermonde left her boudoir and walked downstairs to the dining room. Expecting to see her lover, Guillaume, waiting for her, she was surprised to see only her husband, Lord Raymond.

“You were expecting your friend, Guillame?” the Lord asked slyly? “He’ll be here any moment,” he said. “Let’s be seated. I’m certain he won’t be upset if we start.”

Politely, Lord Raymond led Sermonde to her place at the table. He returned to his seat opposite hers and began carving the main course.

With great pride, he presented his wife a plate filled with his day’s bounty. “Here,” he proclaimed. “Enjoy!”

Lady Sermonde took a bite of her dinner, then another. Realizing that the “meat” served to her had an unusual taste and texture, she remarked: “This, my dear Lord Raymond, is a most uncommon creature, is it not? Have you found a new type beast to bring to our table,” she asked.

“Yes, indeed,” said the Lord gleefully; “I hope you like it, my dear.”

“It is a pity our friend Guillame could not be here to enjoy this delightful meal with us,” stated Lady Sermonde.

“Au contraire,” Lord Raymond chirped. “He is here,, “he chimed. “Guillaume is the main attraction, the main course.”

Lady Sermonde dropped her fork.  Her mouth flew wide open. She screamed. Her screams filled the room, the château, and soon, the village. Before the Lord or servants could catch her, Sermonde ran to the top of the château’s highest tower; she threw open the window; and she jumped.

Down her blood flowed, onto the hills, into the valley below. Lady Sermonde’s blood colored the earth around Roussillon.  Forever and today.

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Travel Diary for Foodies

Travel Diary for Foodies
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There’s no better way for a “foodie” to recap a year’s travel than to revisit meals and favorite foods devoured along the way.

Enjoy the journey!

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Christmas Market, Uzes

Chicken Stewing at Christmas Market, Uzes

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Meat Pies, London, England

Meat Pies, London, England

Fruit Tray for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fruit Tray for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Wine! France!

Wine! France!

Garlic! L'Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Garlic! L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Ham Biscuits for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Ham Biscuits for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Punch with Fruit Ring, "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Punch with Fruit Ring, “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

"Four Seasons" Pizza in Uzes, France

“Four Seasons” Pizza in Uzes, France

"Bouchon de Lyonaisse" Salad in Lyon, France

“Bouchon de Lyonaisse” Salad in Lyon, France

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists' Fete in Uzes, France

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists’ Fete in Uzes, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Brioche with Caramel Glace

Brioche with Caramel Glace in Lyon, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

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Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

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Anyone who knows me well recognizes that I’m “directionally challenged.” Compared to my recent visitor from the States, I’m  “Amelia Earhart” — and we know how that worked out.

When I learned my hometown friend, whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years, was coming to visit me in Uzes, right away I started planning her trip. One that we’d both enjoy. For sure, I couldn’t go back to Nimes and Pont du Gard. Been there, done that, too many times. An over-night stay in a bastide in the Luberon sounded like a good idea. That, along with a few day trips from Uzes would give her an overview of this region of France and it would give us both a taste of Provence during a time of year when there are not so many tourists.

For our road trip to Provence,  my friend Pat brought along her Rick Steves’ guide book. I had an overview summary of the Luberon’s “golden triangle” that was given to me by a friend. We bought a map of Provence the day we started our journey. Basically the plan was to drive to L’isle Sur la Sorgue for the antique market on Sunday, then back to Uzes.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we’d “explore” Gordes, Goult, Lacoste, Menerbes, and Roussillon. If there was time, we’d drive into Aix en Provence.

The route from Uzes to Gordes is through Avignon, about 65 kilometers. Driving to the villages we’d pinpointed would be like riding in a circle: 30 kilometers around.. Towns are very close together.

 

Map of Luberon Route

Map of Luberon Route

Sounds easy enough, right? Not!

Even Rick Steves says “you’re going to get lost”. 

 

Uzes to Avignon

That was easy. I knew the way. I’ve traveled back and forth to the train station in Avignon several times.

Leaving Avignon was when the problems started.

Pat unfolded the map of Provence for the first time. We’d been too busy talking to think about it before now.

“Oh, look, a map!” said Pat, as if surprised to find it on her lap.  “Guess this is what we brought it for,” she declared.

Probably a good idea to take a look now,” says I.

With that, my small friend unfolded the huge map which quickly consumed her and her side of the car. (Did I mention Pat is 5’2″ compared to my 5’9″? We’re the real “Mutt and Jeff” duo.)

Pat,” I exclaimed. “I can’t see!”

Pulling over to the side of the road we folded the map together into a size that Pat could manage in one hand.

The road to  L’isle Sur la Sorgue was the best route on the map. However, we’d been there two days before. So, we decided to try another way.

Big mistake! Every road we took went back to Avignon.

After an hour and a half circling Avignon, I said: “Wonder if we can find the route on my iPad on Mapquest?”

If you’re thinking “why didn’t they have a GPS?” let me explain. Remember the saga of the lost iPhone?After I found that the iPhone was in the back seat of Lucy — not in the trash bin or stolen — I returned to SFR in Nimes several times to fix various problems. The last visit was Monday, the day before our trip to the Luberon. That’s when the nice SFR guy that speaks English discovered the iPhone is broken. He sent it off to be repaired and gave me a Google phone. It didn’t dawn on me to load Mapquest on the substitute phone. Making a phone call was hard enough. Besides, we were only going 100 kilometers away. 

Mapquest came up on the iPad. Even though there was limited reception, we had a map and a dot to follow. (I won’ tell you how long it took us to figure out which dot was “Lucy” and which dot was our “destination.”)

Gordes

Market day in Gordes, which was the first destination on our trip plan, was almost over by the time we reached the village.  

 

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

 

 

 

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Shopping was not so much on our minds as finding a place to eat lunch. Tourists filled up most of the spaces in the restaurants and cafes.

Cafe in Gordes

Cafe in Gordes

 

 

Crowded cafe in Gordes

Crowded cafe in Gordes

We ended up in an out-of-the-way cafe where we weren’t expecting much, but to our delight …

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

 

Caesar salad Provence style

Caesar salad Provence style

 

How can you miss having a great meal in Provence? 

Luberon Villages at a Glance

With the villages of the Luberon so close together, the look and feel of each begin to blend together — especially when you’re lost.  These photos will give you a view of the towns and the countryside as we saw it — wherever it is. 

Road leading to Gordes

Road leading to Gordes

 

 

 Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial

Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial commemorating the strength of the resistance army.

 

 

 

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Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

 

 

 

Villages with churches as the main attraction

Villages with churches as the main attraction

 

 

 

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

 

 

 

Views that take your breath away

Views that take your breath away

 

 

 

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Hilltops and valleys

 

 

 

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

 

 

 

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Colorful villages paved with stone walkways and roads

 

 

 

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Architectural details from an ancient past

Architectural details from an ancient past

 

 

 

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Winding roads that go from village to village

Winding roads that go from village to village

 

 

 

Next stop: The Red Hills of Roussillon

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