I guess we’ve been visiting Provence for almost thirty years. It’s all down to the T.V. chef, Keith Floyd. He was doing a cookery demo in the pretty town of L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue chattering on as he used to do with a glass of wine in one hand whilst stirring a dish in the other. The camera panned round to show the river, one of the many waterwheels and the Provencal town houses …we were hooked. The very next year we were there and the magic has never gone. We love the town although it’s a lot busier than it was all those years ago.
For the last five years we’ve stayed at Mas de Miejour which is just outside the town of Le Thor not far from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The little cabin known as Le Cabanon, (small house in Provencal), feels very much like a home from home although where we live is bigger and a few centuries older! Le Cabanon is tucked away in the extensive grounds of the Mas de Miejour
Fred & Emma own the 19th century farmhouse (le Mas)and have several B & B rooms, cottages and the little cabin which is just perfect for us. It’s quiet, even the chickens don’t disturb us and we love their eggs for breakfast. The swimming pool is great and the area good for walking and cycling …very flat!
The first Sunday we were there we decided to go along to the cherry festival in Venasque. The tourist info. on the village says ‘Venasque is perched on a rocky outcrop’, well they’re right about that. We parked at the bottom of the hill having decided we didn’t need to take the bus and by the time we’d walked up to the village we were definitely in need of a beer! The cherries were of course delicious as was the local wine however once the speeches started we went to explore the village. Not surprisingly it’s rated as the 126th ‘most beautiful village in France’.
On Mondays we always go to Cavaillon. No it’s not rated beautiful but we like it because it’s not touristy. The market is very much for the locals and I know my espadrille man will be there and I always need to stock up for the year. Oh and the local butcher sells the best merguez anywhere.
I can’t remember which day we went to Monteux but as this isn’t meant to be a diary it doesn’t really matter. I was in my element in this town, particularly the old part. The website mentions all kinds of festivals including a spectacular firework display but nothing I could see that mentioned the wonderful murals everywhere, many in the ‘Trompe-l’oeil’ style. The picture on the top right for example shows arches with windows inset but it’s all painted to ‘deceive the eye’. I did of course take loads of pictures but the girl in the red dress painted high up on a building in one of the square’s was my favourite.
Arles is another of our favourite places. Built in Roman times by the great river Rhone it’s often described as the gateway to the Camargue. It’s a vibrant city famous for the Amphitheatre although there are other examples of Roman architecture which get overlooked. Never mind the Romans, there are some interesting shops here, art galleries, usually a photography exhibition or two and lots of places to eat and drink and watch the world go by. And we found a parking place near the college which was free!
Walking the back streets of Arles is just as interesting as the main thoroughfares and less crowded too!
We couldn’t stay in Provence without visiting the Luberon and especially the town of Lacoste. I think everyone must head for Bonnieux or Menerbes as Lacoste is usually pretty quiet. We always pop into the church and then walk up to Pierre Cardin’s place which is a large 11th century chateau which dominates the village. A feature of the village is the narrow streets and the old stone houses and the stunning view across to Bonnieux and Mont Ventoux. It isn’t me in the picture in the bottom right, I just liked this shot of a very French lady looking out across the valley.
I could hardly finish this Blog without mentioning lavender. The lavender season hadn’t quite started apparently but it looked stunning to me. In the background you can make out the summit of Mont Ventoux. It’s the highest mountain in the region and has gained fame due to the Tour de France cycling race. Yes it is very windy and murky at the top but on a clear day it looks very magical.
As usual we were sorry to leave Provence but we had Switzerland to travel to next …