Wishing we were in Provence… But, as it so happened, one of the pups got a tummy illness that left us no choice but to call the trip off. Thankfully, a last-minute change of plan cost us only a night’s stay cancellation fee. Could’ve been worse. Looking on the bright side, this just means that we’ll have to go back next summer!
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.
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.
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, 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)
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.
And don’t forget the sunflower fields.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
Merci beaucoup Le Castellas!