Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Market Day in Lourmarin

If it's Friday morning, it's market day in Lourmarin, and the streets are full of vendors and abuzz with shoppers,

elbow to elbow seeking out the freshest and most unusual products of the day.

Of course, your first purchase must be your French market bag if you don't yet have one,

or you might prefer a more colorful one. Now be ready, it's time to fill your bag.

What will you take home for the day?

Will it be beautiful,  fresh tomatoes,

fruits of every color,

flowers for your home,

sachets of lavender,

 or maybe some local pottery?

You don't want to forget the cheese on your list,

or the sweet melons of Cavaillon,

smocked dresses for your favorite mademoiselle,



and some fragrant figs.

In great demand are the "draps de hamman," or Turkish sheet towels

in every color to be used to drape your lounge chair, or as a beach wrap.

Also unique are the bags made from the pull tabs of cans--something for everyone, I guess.

A great gift to take home would be some Savon de Marseille, a traditional pure soap made from olive oil

or you might fall in love with these hand-made "coeurs de lavande" like I did. Full of lavender and decorated with ribbons, these are a special keepsake from Provence. More about these here.

Do you have your bread for dinner,

or all the spices you need,

the onions,

a roasted chicken,

some garlic,

or a flavored vinegar, almost too pretty to use?

Your trip might not be complete without a painting that will always recall the lovely town of Lourmarin.

And if you really want to end the day like the locals do, stop for a coffee back at the village square to people-watch before making your way back home.

As for me, as our shopping wound down, I was grateful for a husband to help cart back all our purchases and a market bag that would "almost" hold it all.

One more glance over our shoulders at the church as we head back along the footpath, eager to enjoy our purchases of the day.

So tell me, how would you fill your basket on market day?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Staying Close in Lourmarin

So, I promise you that the Provence Tourist Office has not retained me for my services to keep sharing with you all the reasons you should put this part of France on your bucket list, but I can't help but show you in a few more blogs some of the beautiful things we saw while there.

From the terrace of Les Olivettes where we stayed, the village of Lourmarin was drawing us in. 

Only a 7 minute walk through some pathways,

passing alongside the Renaissance Chateau de Lourmarin

and the Protestant Temple church,

and then we were there, to stroll though its back alleys and courtyards.

Our afternoon was spent wandering through cobbled streets of the little village which comes to life in the summer months. Settled at least 1000 years ago,

today it boasts lovely houses, shops

art galleries, and restaurants. 

Peter Mayle, who formerly lived in the nearby village of Ménerbes, is now one of its inhabitants.

The author of A Year in Provence and A Good Year, which have both been made into movies of the same title, he is actually a big reason for the recent upsurge of interest

in the Provence area among English speaking people.

Charm, sunshine, good food and the easy life--a perfect vacation package.

Your morning could start out with some of the locals and visitors at the cafe,

and your day might end eating Italian food al fresco by a fountain with an extra little guest like we had.

Or you might enjoy the ambiance of this little restaurant on the main square where we dined the second evening.

Have I mentioned that Lourmarin had its own fabulous, I mean really fabulous market?  Next post, I'll show you some photos of that experience. I think you'll like it!! Maybe we'll all go on a virtual field trip together and you can tell me what you would have purchased if you had been there....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Surprise at Every Turn

I had never been to the small town of Fontaine de Vaucluse before our summer trip to Provence, but we swung by there on this trip.

I was amazed at the verdant green colors of both the water and the foliage, 

and the cliffs along each side of the river stretching towards the skies.

I didn't feel like I was in the south of France at all anymore, more like the Emerald City, but Fontaine de Vaucluse is the source of the River Sorgue which flows through the cute little village I shared with you in my last post: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The village is built around the spring that spills forth at the source.

For some, kayaking may be fun,

but "flip-overs" like this one would discourage me from giving it a try. I know some of you are much braver than I.

On our way to the car, we spotted this restful little cafe on the side of the river, and wished we had saved our lunch meal to eat there. Isn't the water some of the greenest you've ever seen?

After the coolness of Fontaine de Vaucluse, we motored on to the hillside village of Oppède le Vieux perched high above the valley, which has a fascinating story. Parking below and walking uphill 15 minutes to the village takes quite a commitment, but the rewards are plenty.

Its roots date back to the Middle Ages when the town's location in the hills proved a safe haven from warring factions. The Baron of Oppède took the castle as his seat in the 16th century. But in the 19th century, the inhabitants began to slowly move down into the valley for an easier lifestyle, and by the beginning of the 20th century, the town was uninhabited.

It remained a ghost town until the beginning of WWII when a commune of artists was founded there, and writers and artists took over the ruined houses to make them their own. Today there are very few permanent inhabitants, most choosing to live in the valley below instead, but the town is a fascinating spot to imagine the days gone by.

At the top of the village, you find the Romanesque Notre Dame d'Alydon church originally constructed in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 16th century.

The locals are bit by bit restoring the frescoes that are found inside.

Ruins of the old fortified castle leave a testimony of days when the town was at its peak.

Today tourists make up most of the activity in this very tranquil spot,

but a few people are still making the quiet little town

their home.

Who wouldn't enjoy having this view of Mont Ventoux in the distance and the Luberon valley extending to the hills? If it just wasn't for that little matter of climbing that hill every day!!

A city lost in time, ready to be rediscovered. Go see it if you can!