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
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.”)
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.
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
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
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
Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial commemorating the strength of the resistance army.
Narrow streets with stone walls and houses
Villages with churches as the main attraction
Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches
Views that take your breath away
Hilltops and valleys
Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance
Colorful villages paved with stone walkways and roads
Architectural details from an ancient past
Winding roads that go from village to village
Next stop: The Red Hills of Roussillon