Category Archives: nature

The blue gold of Provence

Lavender field in Auribeau
Lavender field in Auribeau, originally uploaded by Rubber Slippers In Italy on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

In the last 10+ years of visiting Provence we’ve come across so many lavender fields that you’d think we’d have seen them all. But no, no no, we keep discovering new ones on each trip back. How much we see depends on where we’re staying and the season of course, and to give an idea of the far and wide of Provence’s “blue gold”, here’s the website I use to map out an itinerary: Routes de la lavande.

A car may not be the only way to experience Provence, but there can be no argument that it is absolutely the best way. I’m lucky to have a husband that doesn’t mind being behind the wheel while I shout out LAVANDE! LAVANDE! when the familiar hue comes into view.

Favorite summer skirt
©Rubber Slippers In Italy

On the way to Saignon
On the way to Saignon, originally uploaded by Rubber Slippers In Italy on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Timing is everything, but sometimes we’re caught completely by surprise, like when we were heading to a little village reputed to have the best croissants. The lavender was harvested, but I’ve never seen it like this with bundled bouquets laying all over the place.

Bundled lavender in Saignon
©Rubber Slippers In Italy

Those awesome croissants I had heard about were all sold by the time we reached Saignon, but the chaussons aux pommes were buttery delicious with a pretty damn good espresso.

Breakfast at Chez Christine in Saignon
Breakfast at Chez Christine in Saignon, originally uploaded by Rubber Slippers In Italy on Flickr

July 22, 2017 – heading south from Saignon on the D48, this borie came into view. I saved the coordinates for the next time; you can thank me when you get the shot with blooms intact! 43°50’43.0″N 5°25’46.7″E (43.845283, 5.429633)

Borie south of Saignon
©Rubber Slippers In Italy

We drove to Valensole during the 4th weekend of July and there was no blue gold in sight, save for a modest stretch of young plants. “They’ve already been harvested,” our b&b host tells us, but off we went. No holiday in Provence is complete without the dogs in the picture.

Maddie Besties for life

And don’t forget the sunflower fields.

Champ de tournesols dans le Luberon
Champ de tournesols dans le Luberon, originally uploaded by Rubber Slippers In Italy on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Glamping under the Provençal sun

It wasn’t too long ago that we were doing “glamorous camping” in Tuscany, but while neither that b&b or this one in Provence tout themselves as glamping accommodations, I couldn’t help but point out the details that made me feel like I was living large and comfy in the great outdoors. On the day of our departure I remarked to the hosts of Le Jas du Boeuf:

“I wake in the morning and on one side of the room, I watch the sun cast shadows on the roller shades — it’s like I’m in a big tent. And then when I turn around and look out the window, I’m in the middle of nature. Right out the door is the pool, so there’s your glam!”

Chenes room - interior
The Chênes room at Le Jas du Boeuf

Morning view from the room Chenes
We had the pool to ourselves most of the time as other guests were away for the whole day.

There’s enough space between the 4 rooms (2 are located at the main building) to afford an atmosphere of privacy. The outdoor kitchen/dining area next to the pool is handy for simple meals. We had fun putting together a picnic and eating right next to our room.

Picnic in Provence Picnic supper at the pool

And coffee and dessert afterwards, plus the obligatory Maddie-on-vacation photo. So yeah, the pool was the main attraction being that we’ve never stayed at a place like this.

Dessert by the pool Maddie at the pool

Only once did one of the resident dachshunds come by, but it was more of a property patrol instead of a visit. We saw them at breakfast every morning at the main house. Dachshunds can get pretty vocal (I can sense the collective nods of doxie owners reading this!), but they were super friendly, especially Addis who came out to greet us from the very first day.

Addis and Maddie

Tuscany day 2: glamping under the Tuscan sun

La Dolce Vita in Vetulonia
La Dolce Vita, our hideaway in Vetulonia

You won’t have television or internet (for that you’ll need to go to the main building), but at Agriturismo Il Baciarino, why bother being a slave to the grid when you can indulge in a little dolce far niente? Excuse me while I pour a glass of wine in a toast to Julia Roberts.

La Dolce Vita

Where: ancient Etruscan village of Vetulonia. Tucked away on a quiet hillside surrounded by acacia trees, wildflowers, and pretty weeds, La Dolce Vita Vita lives up to its name and offers the casual air of camping life but takes the rough out of “roughing it” with indoor plumbing and hot running water within its rustic stone walls. Renovated from an old farm shed, it is one of 5 self-catering cottages on Il Baciarino’s property.

Glamping at La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita outdoors

A sheltered outdoor kitchen with camp stove, dorm fridge, open dining area, hammock, sun loungers, and swedish hot tub was all it took to fall in love with this magical place. But the true hook, line, and sinker? The undeniably breathtaking view.

Buongiorno bella!

Make that friendly resident donkeys and a jaw-dropping view. We fed apples to the mother-daughter duo from day 1 and they had us trained like good little tourists. The next morning while I was putting the Moka on the fire, they ambled up – clop, clop, clop – and gave me a look that said, “Well where are the apples?”

Pesce fritto

Food: eventually we had to take five from basking under the hot Tuscan sun. We replenished our energy for doing more of doing nothing with a quick trip to the fish stand in Castiglione della Pescaia for cold beer and fried seafood, then purchased fixings from the Saturday morning market for lunch al fresco back home. Roasted pork sandwiches, fava beans, pecorino, chicken liver crostini, and Chianti. Cheap and tasty!

Pranzo al fresco

The dogs loved their new digs. Such a huge difference from being enclosed in a hotel room, and with so much to sniff and explore.

Dog's life at La Dolce Vita

They napped in different spots throughout the day but I swear that Mister B preferred the hammock to all else. What a dog’s life, eh?

Dolce far niente in a hammock

I know we’ll be back: Il Baciarino