Vaison la Romaine- August 18: Experiencing the Beauty of Provence

We ate in the country dining room and got some travel tips from some French and German guests who were enjoying a relaxing holiday at the Chateau with their families. The first town we visited, L'Isle Sur La Sorgue, is known as the Venice of Provence. Winding through all the streets are canals with ancient waterwheels turning slowly in the clear water. We discovered a wonderful gourmet shop called Delices de Luberon. I have been searching for the perfect store with something for everyone and no touristy trinkets, and this is it. Brightly colored tins full of herbs line the shelves, and tapenades for tasting are presented in small pottery bowls on a table covered with a colorful French tablecloth with a floral design.

After leaving L'Isle Sur La Sorgue, we drove through the countryside to Gordes. Until tourists began arriving in swarms, the town was very poor and run down. Today it is a charming place to stroll with winding cobblestone lanes, fancy French boutiques, and window boxes on every building filled with wild flowers. We stopped for an Orangina in a small square with a tiny fountain to people watch. Young college students filled their water bottles from the faucet in the fountain while dogs drank gratefully from the water.

On the way to our next town, Rousillon, we followed the sign posts for Abbey Notre Dame de Senanque. When the lavender fields are in full bloom in the spring, it is the most photographed building in Provence. Unfortunately we were too late to tour the abbey, but the setting itself is well worth the drive. Roussillon is very unique. Red ochre cliffs surround the city giving it an almost Santa Fe look from a distance. When the mistral winds blow, it can be very windy and dusty there, but the town which is perched high on a cliff, is absolutely enchanting. Up one of the winding streets, we discovered an interesting set of winding steps built into one of the cliffs to the top of an old stone clock tower.

Dinner was at Le Bistrot de Roussillon. Our table was on a porch overlooking the valley and the cliffs. I tried the tiramisu for dessert and it was served in a small decorative dish. Our ride home was less than an hour, but on roads lit only by moonlight, we were thankful they are so smooth and well kept. Back at the Chateau, the Swiss and French families were outside enjoying their own candlelight picnic dinner. What a pleasant way to spend the evening!


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