Finally, finally two weeks into our trip to France, we arrived in Provence, and encountered sunshine and warmer temperatures. It was even hot one day. Ahhhh. That felt good.
The best thing about staying in self-catered accommodation is the freedom it allows. Once settled into our little stone cottage overlooking a vineyard, we could wake up a bit later; unlike staying in a B&B, we didn’t have to present ourselves for breakfast at the agreed upon time, or pack the car and get on the road for our next destination. We could make a pot of tea, go for a morning power walk on the unpaved roads that snaked around us, all the while trying to surreptitiously peer through the gates our neighbours’ properties to see how the other half of Provence lived, and return “home” to shower and decide our plan for the day. And maybe have another cup of tea.
For six days we cooked for ourselves. We barbequed, made huge salads from the plethora of fresh produce available, bought bread every day at the local boulangerie, snipped fresh rosemary and thyme from the lovely herb garden right outside our door, and enjoyed some of the local wine.
Each day we set off to explore Provence. The old walled city of Avignon, with its ancient Papal Palace…
… and that famous pont we all learned to sing about in French class in grade five.
I was enchanted by the carousels in France. We saw a couple of these in Paris, but this one in Avignon was wonderful. It had two levels of prancing horses and even a pig. Oh, it was hard to walk on by and not go for a merry-go-round ride that day, I can tell you.
One day we drove to the beautiful old village of Chateauneuf du Pape. We strolled down almost empty streets…
… where we could look out over the vineyards and across hazy mountains.
Then we descended back down to the heart of the village and stopped into a wine tasting shop. We sampled a few varieties of the red wine Chateauneuf du Pape is famous for, and selected a couple of bottles to take home. Along with a wonderfully aged black olive saucisse. Ugly to look at, kind of shriveled and covered in white mold…who knew it could taste so scrumptious. Perfect with sliced tomatoes and fresh bread for lunch.
A couple of days later we set off early in the morning for Arles. This was a wonderful day. We explored the winding streets of Arles, once a thriving Roman settlement. We gazed up at Roman columns and sat in the Roman arena where they still hold bullfights in the summer.