Central to everything on our to-see list, isolated but not way off the beaten path, quiet but not a ghost town, oh, and a friendly boulangerie is a must. Welcome to the village of Cruis (pop. 600 something) in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence!
Situated halfway between the fortified city of Sisteron and the hilltop village of Banon, Cruis happened to be just where I needed it when searching for places to stay. Noted among the list of villages and cities with character, it more than satisfied the criteria for sleepy french hamlet + perfect home base from which to explore the area.
The Auberge de l’Abbaye – located next to an 11th century church – is ideal for couples on short trips. They also serve superb gourmet meals in their restaurant! Our room, Lavande, had an enclosed rooftop terrace that looked out over the church square and yes, those bells rang on the hour and half hour. All part of the charm on this side of the Atlantic, but at least the clanging stopped later in the evening and didn’t start up again until 7 in the morning.
Time for caffeine. We’re so accustomed to popping into italian bars for a coffee and a pastry that it didn’t occur to us that the concept might not be the same in France. Le petit déjeuner at the auberge sounded like too much food at 12€ each, so we took our cafe au lait at the bar right across the street. The funny thing is that we also wanted some croissants, but the guy serving us pointed to the boulangerie down the street.
We just followed our noses…et voila! Crusty baguettes, flaky pastries, desserts – yum yum! Tip: if your hands get sticky, there’s an old lavoir at the opposite end of the boulangerie. The spring-fed water is so pure that goldfish live in it.