Roussillon in Provence

The ochre paillette of colors & pigments, that make this town one of the most beautiful villages in France, is quite evident from Roussillon‘s flaming colors in its landscape.  As I walked around this lovely village, I took in all the Provençal flavors, from the ochre cliffs to the local landscape, artisanal shops, and restaurants.

My stomach signaled it was time for lunch, so we chose Le Castrum restaurant, located on the beaten path to take in the sights (read:  people watch).  The daily menu was reasonable and provided enough variety lemoncello bee& choices: meat or fish with an entrée (appetizer) and dessert.  After the meal, we were offered a lemoncello by the restaurant – a very nice gesture on their part.  We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the after-meal digestif , noticing that a yellow jacket was imbibing as well (maybe that’s where bees in Provence get their yellow-stripe color from)!

 

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Personal side note:  The Cafe de l’Ocrier in Roussillon is a tourist trap type place, with horribly rude service – we actually walked out before ordering drinks there!

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Lourmarin in Provence

A recent trip to the Luberon included a stop in Lourmarin, a charming town to stroll, shop, and café hop, not to mention the final resting place for the French philosopher, Albert Camus.

According to France Today, “Camus’ first visit to the region, in 1937, was brief but in 1946 he came from Paris with three fellow writer friends and actually stayed with them at the Château, in Spartan rooms set far apart which felt spooky at night, his at the bottom of the tower. Armed with the carefree camaraderie and joie de vivre of youth, Camus loved Lourmarin – witness his letter of 1947 to his friend and poet, René Char, who hailed from nearby L’Ile-sur-la- Sorgue:  “The region in France that I prefer is yours, more precisely the foot of the Luberon… Lourmarin, etc.”  Camus was just 46 on January 4, 1960, when he died near Sens in a car crash on his way to Paris– snatched midlife, as if to stage an ironical metaphor of the absurdity of life which was central to his philosophical preoccupations.”

 “L’absurde naît de la confrontation de l’appel humain avec le silence déraisonnable du monde.” 

(“The absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.”) 

 Camus gravesite Camus headstone

 

Strolling through the town, I  witnessed le football fever for “Les Bleus” before a World Cup match, saw many amusing store front novelties, including an American song lyric sung by Jimmy Hendrix, and passed lovely fountains….all in a picturesque backdrop in the heart of Provence.

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Fontvieille in Provence

Our friends had already booked the hotel, so we followed suit and arrived early to take a look around the lovely setting at Hotel Val Majour in Fontvieille.  I hadn’t heard of this small town in Provence, but it certainly seemed centrally located to all the major sites – one of our friends was born in Cadenet, knew the area well, and so, did the booking.  The three-star hotel and pool settings were tranquil and beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the breakfast buffet top notch, and the bar service excellent.

Val Majour Hotel

 

Hotel map

signFor dinner, the receptionist recommended a couple restaurants (with one in particular) situated in the town’s main square, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  So, off we went and found the #1 recommendation, “La Cuisine au Planet,” with its inviting terrace.  We luckily got the last tables for our group, as they started telling arriving customers to come back around 9:30p.m.

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And boy, did we get lucky!!  The meal was fantastic, service was impeccable and friendly, and the prices were reasonable – we ate, drank, chatted and laughed throughout the evening – happy to have to walk back to the hotel, since we were so full from the three-course menu – what a lovely, delicious evening!

 

 

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Les Baux de Provence: Jaguars, Picnic, & Mines – Oh My!

During my recent short trip with friends to the Luberon, it was planned that we stay in Fontvieille and stop nearby to have a picnic before going to the “Carrières de Lumières” multi-media show in Les Baux, featuring works by Klimt.

IMG_0031KlimtPhoto: Official brochure

It sounded good to me, especially since they were bringing the food (read: I didn’t have to cook).   My 14-old car was left at the hotel, bien sûr, as we all rode in style in my friends’ cars to a small, open area of a nearby forest.

Jaguars

As we approached the area, we noticed and pulled off the road and parked just before an ominous sign:

“Accès Interdit Tir des Mines – Danger” (Do not enter – land mines)

 

Tir de Mines

 

As we carefully set up our ‘table’ and the put out the delicious spread, I thought that this picnic would be a blast (figuratively speaking only).  We ate, laughed, fought off a few ants that liked the food as well, and enjoyed comraderie in a setting of nature and calm (thankfully).  Merci to our friends for a great day’s outing!

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Les Baux de Provence:

 

 

 

 

Marquis de Sade & Ice Cream in Lacoste

My visit to the town of Lacoste, home to the former castle of the Marquis de Sade, was indeed flavorful!  One of many perched villages in the Luberon: Gordes, Menerbes, and Roussillon, Lacoste is small, with a population of only about 400 habitants.  But don’t let that fool you – this town is host to the Savannah College of Art & Design, which offers classes in fine arts, architecture, design, fashion, film, photography, sculpture, and theater.  This town is also home to the fashion designer, Pierre Cardin, who bought the chateau and surrounding area.

There are art studios and cafés, one being the Café de Sade where I ate lunch.  IMG_0017What I first noticed was the art-sy placemat and the great selection of menu items – wait, is that lavender ice cream?!   Lunch was delicious, but I ws looking forward to tasting this flavor of dessert.  It was very creamy and full of lavender flavor – not even Fennochio in Nice compares (which I tried after returning home).  It was absolutely the best flavor of ice cream I have ever tasted (my opinion)!

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Egalières in Provence

I recently took a long weekend to spend time with an American girlfriend and her husband, who had rented a six-bedroom house in Egalières, for themselves and 8 others (family & friends) – located about 45 minutes from Avignon in Provence. So, there we were – 11 of us – old friends, family members, and new acquaintances alike:  sitting by the pool, taking day trips together to local markets, and trying out new restaurants as a fun-loving (and yes, loud) partying group!

We ladies took an in-house cooking class, learning how to filet a fish and knife cutting skills to cut julien style veggies for a great lunch – harder than it looks!  That evening, the chef cooked and served a luscious dinner to all of us staying in the house – wine flowed, songs were sung, and rugs were rolled up for after-dinner dancing of fox-trot and cha-cha.

Another evening, we went to a local restaurant called “Gilles,” where Jolie-Pitt’s “Pink Floyd” wine from Château Miraval was on the menu – I only had a sip of this “famous” rosé, which was going for 18€ a bottle (see slideshow photos) – a sweet wine at a sweet price!

All in all, it was a great time in a great area of Provence!

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Isle-sur-La Sorgue

During my recent trip to Egalières, I took a side trip to one of the largest and most well-known markets for antiques, the town of Isle-sur-La Sorgue. Famous also for its large, moss-covered water wheels, this town is a must see, with its crystal clear river running through the town’s center and the beautiful building of the Caisse d’Epargne bank.  So, what did I buy?  Well, I almost bought a beautiful, oval, gold, baroque-style mirror (no photos allowed and there was an employee staged there), but even with a small discount, it was pricey.  That being said, I still see the mirror and hope it will go out of my mind soon!

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une roux a eau couverte de mousse

une roux a eau couverte de mousse

la lavande

la lavande

marche

le marche

campanile

le campanile

vendeur

un vendeur

des produits provencals

des produits provencals

savon

des savons

des fruits

des fruits

des friandises

des friandises

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paquet cadeau

un paquet cadeau

des confitures

des confitures

mouton artistique

un mouton artistique