Provence - Day Nine
Yesterday's red sky at night was a snare and a delusion; could hear the rain drumming on the roof overnight and it greeted us when we rose to start the day.
There are a number of villages perchés, old medieval towns built on the heights of the highlands in the region that we have been wanting to visit, but had delayed since there was not much point of driving up in the rain only to be greeted by cloud-covered vistas when we reached the top, but since today was our last day we decided to go anyway.
Chugged our way up the hills to Bonnieux, where there was a restaurant that had been recommended and arrived at its doors as the town clock struck twelve. The restaurant was not yet open but fortunately we stuck our head in the door and made a reservation for 12:30 when it opened. I say fortunately because, as it was May Day and a holiday, the town was full and when we returned at 12:30 for our table, the place was packed and people were being turned away. The restaurant, Le Fournil with a little terrace in front, is built back into the mountainside and perched on the side of the sharply inclined main street that climbs from the bottom of the village to the top. Wonderful lunch, my starter was a terrine of rabbit, and V was again very lucky in her choice of soups, a creamy velouté of asparagus that was one of the best things she has ordered since we arrived. We each then had a perfectly grilled piece of hake on fresh spring vegetables and finished with a shared bowl of fresh strawberries in mascarpone. Wonderful restaurant and a wonderful lunch; someone in the kitchen has a very light hand.
When we had entered the restaurant it was grey and overcast and because we were inside the hill at the back of the restaurant we could not see what was happening outside. Imagine our surprise and pleasure therefore when we stepped outside into brilliant sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. In the space of 90 minutes the weather had completely rearranged itself as if to give us at least a brief taste of what we have been missing. Stunning views from Bonnieux out over the Luberon valley and so into our car in the dazzling sunshine to explore.
Wended our way over the highland plateau covered in dusty green lavender fields, and even this early in the year, the air faintly perfumed with their scent, to a spectacular little village perched on the top of a mountain, Saignon, built between the remains of a ruined medieval fortress on one peak and the town church on the other peak. Walked the sloping streets of the tiny town and clambered and climbed the ruins of the fortress and just enjoyed the town and the views. Finished off by sitting in the sun at the town's boule ground and watching the ferocious competition of two teams comprised, without distinction as to age or gender, of some of the town's residents battling it out, with comments freely given by spectators and players alike for good shots and bad.
Through the afternoon sun to our little house where V actually sat on our terrace and soaked up the sun, while I wrote this. We will miss our home of the last 10 days; it worked remarkably well for us. Close to everything and in this part of Provence nothing is farther than 10 or 15k's away and yet out in the country where we could enjoy the quiet of the countryside. The house is used by the owners when they spend time in France and is rented when they are not occupying it so it is equipped as a home with all the stuff and equipment that we all like in our homes to give us comfort and does not feel like a space that has been created simply to rent. A home not a rental property and we can't say enough good things about it. Do think about it if you want to spend time in this part of the world, Les Roux.
Virginia said: What a peculiar day this was, weather wise. The one part that Gerry left out is that we headed out in the morning to the Marché Potier, that was being held in Tour D'Aigues, just down the road and a lovely town. The market had been much advertised in the area and we were looking forward to it. Well, the good news is that pottery doesn't mind if it gets wet, the bad news is that it was raining so hard that there was nobody there! We did our rounds of the stands and, fortunately, there was nothing irresistible (we already have a large pitcher that I'm not sure how to transport, see yesterday's post). We felt very sorry for the vendors, who were huddled under umbrellas and emerged only to empty their bowls of rain. Our decision to head up to Bonnieux and the vicinity was more grim determination than any sense we would actually see much, so G's description of the weather turning was truly amazing. We spent a lovely hour in Saignon watching the boules players and it actually got quite warm. Along the way we drove into Buoux, which is a major lavender growing area. Nothing open, so I couldn't load us up on lavendar, probably just as well, but the fields of lavender just starting to turn green were beautiful and the air was perfumed. All in all it was just so lovely to be warm in the sun and to see some blue sky. We hate to leave tomorrow....