Monday, September 30, 2013

A lazy day


After all the travels of the last week or so it was nice to have a slower start to today. I took this picture while resting and relaxing this morning. Isn't the blue sky incredible? I just love the colors here. 

This was the view from the back yard. Over the hedge you can just see the tops of the cemetery. Graves are above ground here in France. 

We headed out to the local cafe for a sandwich before going on our way. A ham and cheese on baquette sure tasted good. While we were eating, 8 local women came in to enjoy an afternoon of knitting. I loved listening to them greet each other and give the 3 traditional cheek kisses! So French. 

We headed to the market today. I love to see what you can find in supermarkets in other countries. This one is a pretty good size and is inside a mall. 

We know that French bread is great but they give a nod to American taste by stocking Harry's American sandwich bread. Imagine that! Best finds were ginger lemon dark chocolate and licorice mentos. 

The market was located in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue or island on the Sorgue, which has many canals and waterways but is not really an island. They call it the Venice of Provence. It is on the Sorgue River which originates from the area we visited two days ago. 

It is fun to decipher the street signs as we pass. Just ahead you can see the crosswalk, or zebra, with the pedestrian crossing sign. Apparently, in France, if you hit someone who is crossing on the zebra you are imprisoned for life! Pretty serious, I would say. And we cross at home so carefully hoping that cars will stop!

Right before we reached home, we passed a deux Chevaux. These cars were manufactured by Citreon from 1948-1990. The windows fold down and the roof rolls back. Farmers often used them to go into the fields instead of using horse and wagon. 

In for the night as we rest for tomorrow's adventure. A trip to Cassis which is located on the Mediterranean Sea. A first for me.  

Au revoir!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The best laid plans...

...are often changed by the weather. Our plans today included the market, church, lunch on Gordes and then on to the Pont du Gard. Well, as the rain intensified, we just hung out but then made a dash out to the patisserie for croissants and pain du chocolat.  

Don't you think this would be a good way to start every day! Believe me, it was today. While the first part of our day was nixed we decided to head to the Pont du Gard and at least see it. 

See the sky in front clearing up?  Hope springs eternal. 

Our optimism was rewarded by the blue sky we found when we arrived. The Pont du Gard was an important part of the Roman aqueduct system in this area. The canals and this structure supplied nine million gallons of water a day to Nimes, an ancient European city. 

It is certainly amazing to see these remnants of the Roman Empire throughout Europe and to marvel at the work it took to build them. 

The massive stones and arches just boggle the mind and the eye. So glad the weather cleared so we could appreciate this marvel. 

So lucky to simply stroll away from the aqueduct and find an outdoor cafe open and waiting for our order. 

My goat cheese salad was delicious. The goat cheese is baked into the little pockets perched on top of the salad. 

Our drive home took us past the medieval city of Avignon. The 13th century wall was constructed to protect the city which served as the Vatican from 1309-1377. We drove all the way around the wall which is still in place. 

Through the window you can see the gold spire on the top of the church which is attached to the Palace of the Popes. 

Along the Rhone River, opposite the town, you can see St. Benezet or pont d'Avignon of nursery rhyme fame. (Carol G., you can start singing again). This bridge once connected the Vatican territory to France. 

Our drive home continued with blue skies and of course, enjoying the many simple structures along the road. This cabanon is right near Elaine's home and like many you see along the road. They were built as shelters for the shepherds and cannot ever be moved or changed in any way. So nice to see attention to traditions.

I am now more than halfway through this fabulous adventure. I am holding close so many sights and memories I have gathered along the way. 

Here is hoping for blue skies for the rest of the week!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rural tranquility

We got off to a later start this morning, after enjoying a breakfast of Cavaillon melon and toasted baquette. No, bread at home will never taste the same again. They sure can do bread in this country!  

We headed to the town of Fontaine de Vancluse, most notable as the location of the source of the Sorque River. It appears as a murky green hole in the ground. And no one has ever actually found the bottom and discovered the source.  We ate lunch along the river, listening to the ducks who were foraging for food as we were enjoying a cool breeze and magnificent sights. 

I know, open your eyes, Nancy! This was our spot for lunch. I'm really going to miss cafes when I get home. Thought I should start putting in a picture or two of me so you believe I'm really here. I know I can't always believe it myself. 

This was directly across from our restaurant. Can you see the ruins above the roof of the building on the right? You really have to squint to see it. It is hard to imagine how it got there in the first place. 

One of many olive trees growing along the path. 

After strolling along the river and stopping in a few shops, we headed out of town toward Roussilon, located on the world's largest deposit of ochre. That is evident along the road and in the look of the buildings in the town. It reminded me very much of the red clay of Georgia. 

Entering the town. 

This was a common sight along the road. 

As is usual, our drive home took us through farmland which seemed to stretch for miles. This is a lavender field, one of many in the area. 

Grapes. It is interesting to see how many are changing color with the season. 

The best stop along the way was a place where there was an amazing view of Gordes, the hill town I took pictures of on my first day here. It seems to be carved from the rocks that it sits on. We are going to visit there tomorrow so I'll get a closer look. 

Really wanted to share some signage before I end. This is the sign that appears on the town limits as you are exiting a town or village. Makes perfect sense, don't you think?

Lucky for me I will not be exiting France for several more days. Many more sights to see and places to explore. 

Have a good evening, everyone


Friday, September 27, 2013

It's so French!

It was a dream come true today when we drove to Lourmarin and I went to my first French market. Yes, they are a little like our flea markets but much, much more upscale. No real haggling goes on here.  I only wish I had recorded the sounds so you could really enjoy the experience. Next time. 

We drove about 30 minutes through the mountains to the town of Lourmarin whose market is on Friday. Now I invite you to pretend you are in France with me and taking a walk through the market. If you have it, put on some French music and drink a cup of tea or maybe even a glass of wine. 

If you look closely, you can see the hairpin turns on the GPS. I'm so lucky that I got to be a passenger and not the driver. 

And now, let's shop. Is your music playing?

I think you get the picture. There really isn't much you can't find at the market. It is definitely a feast for all the senses. 

I was holding Elaine's market bag for her and no, I did not fill it! I will be going to a few more markets and kept reminding myself - moderation. Do I look French?

Halfway through, we made our way down this street to an outside cafe- we really are in heaven - and stopped for a mid morning drink. I chose hot chocolate which I quite interesting here. It is basically cocoa which is then served with sugar for you to sweeten it yourself. 

Now, I look happy! After finishing our shopping we headed to Lauris for lunch at a cafe. Elaine had made reservations but said it didn't matter when we got there since the table was ours for the day. Isn't that a great idea!  For a mere 15, 50 euros ( about $20) we had salad, entree (see below), cheese and sausage, cheese tray and dessert and of course complimentary wine and coffee. Unbelievable!

All this, and a lovely setting too!

After we pulled ourselves out of our chairs we headed home, including a stop in Curcuron to see an area that was featured in the movie, A Good Year. I've seen it once but now have to go and see it again. 

This is the E'tang which was used by many towns people to water their horses. 

I think there is a scene in the movie where Russell Crowe is having lunch at one of those tables. Check it out!

I wish I could take you all with me but do hope this gives you an idea of the journey. 

Au revoir for now!