Dimanche, June 07,2009
It’s really a bad thing when you sleep late on vacation, especially when you miss the most famous marketplace in the South of France!
Well, almost missed. The plan was to get up really early and spend the day browsing the world famous marketplace in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Called the Venice of Provence, it’s history is known for water, water everywhere, but now antique market days are a huge part of it’s tourism on Sunday and Thursday. So, it is Dimanche and instead of rising at the crack of dawn as planned, we wake at 10:30am, ( no sleep night before!) A rush out the door barely dressed finds us finally there an hour later. Oh well, we did make it and it was as amazing as we were told.
I buy 10 bars of sweet smelling French soap, Herbs de Provence, tapenade and whatever else I can carry, not to mention all the cheese and bread and local produce I can stuff into my mouth. So, if you go, be sure to sleep the night before, get up early (the market opens at 9am) and park behind the post office in town- parking is a nightmare but don’t let that stop you- this market and its surrounding beauty is a must see!
(ps..read ” Peter Mayle’s- A Year in Provence)
Next stop- another must see, is the Lavender Museum at 84220 Coustellet, Provence.
Besides the obvious sweet smell of lavender, here Dolores and I learned everything you could possibly need to know about lavender. We learned how its distilled, how/where it grows, the different types. Did you know that Lavender is used for medicinal purposes but Lavandine is not! There is so much here and its so beautiful. Movies to watch too! Of course, we packed our bags filled with fine lavender gifts…ahhhhh….
Onward we go- We drive through a small village Fountaine de Vauclues, of course its beautiful but no time to stop- bummer- our destination is now the photogenic village of Roussillion. You need a serious camera here and I am so glad I have one! There is no modern development here, only an enormous deposit of ochre giving the earth and its buildings a distinctive red color.
Its light is heaven to see early morning or late in the day. Cafes abound on these brilliant orange paths and we of course stop for a glass of Cabernet every chance we get. Not only is it very artsy, but Roussillion was also Europe’s capital for ochre production until World War 2. Insanely beautiful. I still dream about it.
Well, now we know that night will fall soon and we have no place to sleep. But who cares? We are in the south of France! But seriously, it would not be a good idea to drive in the dark. I am already shaking as Dolores navigates ditches on the side of the road! I read the maps and try to pick out a town that looks like it may have hotels and places to eat. The decision is made. We will stay in Bonnieux.
Turns out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We stay in a funky hotel/restaurant where no one speaks English. Love it! Nothing fancy which suits us just fine.
Infact, as we pull up outside, a naked man sits on the balcony of the room below where will lay our heads on the pillow. Interesting, but he does not scare us off. For 40 euros a night (huge huge bargain!) we do lay our heads on the pillow of the “Josephine” room of the Hotel La Flambay. We have comfortable beds and a tiny bath but who cares!.
We have plenty of room for all our stuff- as we have already accumulated too much. First thing is to celebrate with a glass of wine and turn on the Ipod – all of our French songs await. There is much dancing too be done now!
Soon afterwards we head out to explore before the sun sets. Of course we have coffee, tiramisu, flambee on a nearby terrace overlooking a castle. These things never happen in New Jersey, so we are quite happy and content even if naked men roam about.