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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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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Médiéval Château de Castelnou

I recently visited this 10th-century castle, built around 988-990, to serve as a military center and principal town of the Vicomte of Vallespir.  Castelnou castle is the best example of a medieval fortress  existing in the Roussillon region and was built in the shape of an irregular pentagon, in which two of the sides join at right angles.  Inside the castle, its history and way of life in the Middle Ages is exhibited through a medieval ambiance with tapestries, statues, and armor.

The chateau is also a producer of AOC wines, with its vineyards full of mediterranean vines:  grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre, old carignan, and muscat.  The grapes are harvested by hand and made into high-quality wines: “Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’Age,” “Côtes du Roussillon Rouge et Rosé,” and “Muscat de Rivesaltes.”  I sampled only one of the reds, which was too dry for my taste, so passed on trying more or buying any.

Just below the castle, the medieval town of Castelnou, with its art galleries and souvenir shops woven along the quaint, cobblestone streets, has been rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France.