Category Archives: summer holidays

Italians on holiday up by 3.2%

Melon vendor near Reillanne
Melon vendor in Reillanne ©Rubber Slippers In Italy

Just heard this on the news. I guess it’s a good thing, seeing that we’ve been taking little trips here and there whenever the opportunity arises. The big question is where do all of these italians go when it’s time for the summer holidays, apart from visiting relatives way on the other side of the peninsula? My brother-in-law took his family to visit Monument Valley, our neighbors went to the Bahamas, and some of MotH’s colleagues have flown across the pond to somewhere in the states.

Unless it’s to Hawaii, we pretty much stay within 1 or 2 day’s drive from home. Last month in Provence, the woman in the room next to ours stopped us while we were on our way out and abruptly rattled off in italian, telling MotH that she knew there was another Italian around when she heard him talking. Without losing a beat he replied “sì, siamo dovunque!” Yes, we are everywhere!

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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)

A communal feast under a majestic oak tree

Le Castellas in Sivergues

While editing these images my head started to fill up with the stuff that travel dreams are made of, and as I type this, I’m feeling 100%, no holds barred, shamelessly nostalgic. The only reason I can think of can be drawn from the following quote:

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway,

No, we didn’t go to Paris, but lunch at a goat farm in Sivergues will be the meal to remember for life! Sitting in the shade under an old oak tree, beautifully presented platters of food to be shared at the table, a soft breeze, chatter, refreshing sips of Chateau La Canorgue’s blanc – what a sublime experience. It was unlike anything we’ve ever had while traveling around France. It’s as if we had stumbled upon a secret.

Le Castellas after lunch

Recently reopened after 2 years of closure, Le Castellas is under new ownership and offers lunch and dinner for the summer season. Reservations are a must. The website is in french which we understood well enough, but being able to converse (english) during the meal with 2 multi-lingual guests made the afternoon even more enjoyable.

Le Castellas oak tree

The website describes the simple menu so if you can live without ordering from one, are not at all shy about sitting elbow to elbow with perfect strangers, and treasure that farm-to-table atmosphere, then this is the place to go. The service is perfect, the staff discreet, and as my photos will show (I hope!), the setting is like one of those period films shot in the Provençal countryside. Ciak!

Le Castellas boss goat
My guess is that this goat is head honcho of the herd

Le Castellas du pain et du vin
Half liter of Chateau La Canorgue’s Blanc and a gorgeous loaf of artisan bread

Le Castellas les fromages
Clockwise from left: chevre from local producers – lavender, plain, thyme, and I think pepper flakes?

Le Castellas charcuterie
Assorted charcuterie, paté, and toast nibbles

Le Castellas salads

Guests helped themselves to a variety of cold salads (caponata, chickpeas, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomato, cabbage) that were brought to the table in flip-top mason jars.

Le Castellas almond cake

Dessert was a double delight – you could choose between fresh fruit purees (to be poured into your empty water glasses), or spoon a luscious apricot-thyme compote over a slice of dense almond cake. We tried them all 🙂

Le Castellas fruit purees
Mason jars full of strawberry and melon fruit purees and apricot-thyme compote.

Merci beaucoup Le Castellas!