Provence, France Day 6

Start my workout with no ants in sight. About ten minutes in one scouts the area. His friends, only a handful today, join him. But this time they don’t bother to follow me down the terrace.

Our day really starts when we gather together and walk up to the hotel for our car. We have a plan. Our navigator has a map. BW pilots our big ass SUV along the winding, sun-splashed roads toward the village of Seillans. I may be spelling that wrong, but our trusty navigator (Kat) has the map, and she’s still asleep. [Note from Laura: I’m awake, I checked the Google, this is correct.]  Lots of hills to admire on our serpentine way. And the curvy road narrows. Seriously narrows. I think skinnier than county roads in Ireland, but it’s pointed out we don’t have hedgerows crowding in, so there’s that. Round the roundabouts, the main reason I won’t drive in Europe as I want to save lives, including my own.

Entrance. Photo by j a-b
Narrow street made charming by age. Phto by j a-b

We find our village, and parking. It’s old and just lovely. Hilly and steep with cobbled streets, narrow and lined with buildings of stone, many with flowers spilling from window boxes. Most of the shops are closed today, but we came to explore, to see and eventually have lunch. From high perches, we look down on villas and gardens, and out to the hills. The breeze is frisky enough I have to carry my hat or lose it. We walk to a plaza where the panorama makes me sigh with its view of green hills and valleys.

Seillans in pano. Photo by j a-b

We see little cat silhouettes painted low on doors here and there, and a few of the models napping among potted plants. 

Cat by kat.

I can’t remember the name of the clever countess who started a perfumerie on her estate, to brings jobs and revenue to the village, and planted scores of Jasmine, roses, violets, etc. During the war, she converted it into a hospital. A smart, generous woman, I think.  [Note from Laura — saving everyone the Google time: it was the Viscountess de Savigny de Moncorps.]

The church here is again old and lovely. When we walk in you feel the age in the air. A high curved ceiling, a reverent hush, the flicker of candles in the quiet light.

Church door. Photo by kat
Photo by kat

Up and up some more to pass a hotel. Les Deux Roc. Named for the two enormous rocks it faces across the little street. There’s a stone arch and a stone fountain, and a serious view. The arch rises where a castle stood, and the plaque tells us people lived there in the Dark Ages. The stone hums a little under my hand.

I look around and see, as is often the case, a dog has found Jason. The old girl lies belly up and in ecstasy as Jason gives her a good rub.

Jason, dog charmer. Photo by BW

We wander in and out and back to the big, open-air restaurant. A large center fountain spills water into pails of flowers, so charming. Most of the many tables are occupied, but we’re in luck. And after the climb, wine. Lovely wine, pretty air, the clatter of voices, lots of families on holiday, a busy waitstaff in floral shirts. Fresh salad and bread, as the restaurant claims to be pain depot. An easy meal under the shade of just enormous, many-branched trees with bark that look like camo. They’re absolutely gorgeous.

Lunch time! Photo by j a-b
Shady spot. Photo by j a-b
Tree growth stands for no rail. Photo by j a-b
All the freshness at lunch. Photo by kat

On the way back to the car, we stop into an open art shop. The artist is working in clay on her table, and the shop is full of her sculptures, paintings, drawings. We converse in her careful English and my pitiful French. And I buy some postcards of her work to remember. I love particularly one of her sculptures, a slender, dreamy figure in blue, but have no place for it.

Intrepid travelers on a non-driveable street. Lane? Alley? photo by BW

Revived, we decide to continue our adventuring with a trip to Mons. Much winding and climbing, skinny roads and switchbacks. Kat has become our Ensign Checkov. And so BW becomes Kirk. As Jason is logic, and is checking comms, he’s designated as a combo of Spock and Uhura. If the car had weapons, I might be Sulu, but as it is, it’s decided I’ll be Bones.

Damn it, Jim!

Mons is famed for its view, so we wind up the narrow streets and find a big dirt field where dozens of people play various games of Bocci. Dozens. Old, young, men, women, kids. And it appears to be fairly serious. Beside the field is a big trailer, a hair salon. I’m fascinated. Will the Bocci players take breaks for a fresh coiffure? There are venders for food and drink, public toilets that the men make use of. Kat and I pass as the accommodations are essentially holes in the ground.

Petanque! Photo by BW
Action shot – perfect form. Photo by BW

The view is breathtaking. Miles and miles of hills. Green, green forests below, and some farms that have carved through with earthen spaces and red tile roofs. Hills rolling into mountains that fold their way to the sea hazed by distance, the toy-like huddles of villages scattered, and all under perfect blue skies. The sun’s white and brilliant. It’s a painting with no frame to interrupt the glory of the art.

A view. Photo by j a-b
Adventurers with view. Photo by kat

Back down we go to wind our way back, roundabouts, curvy roads, vistas, forests. And now a stop at the market. A supermarket. Fun!

Cheese! So many to choose from. A baguette, and won’t that combo be yum. Wines, so many wines. Chips. I’m going to work, and my working brain requires the occasional munch. Peach juice for belinis! Ice cream, because why not. We haul our supplies back to the car, make our way back to the hotel after a fine adventure.

In our villa, we stock our kitchen, and I polish off the day with a belini. Not as glorious as those in the restaurant here, but not bad at all.

A little down time, before we clean ourselves up for dinner at the hotel.

A lovely terrace, a display of desserts that tempt as we walk through. Wine, bien sur. BW and Kat get rockfish soup as a starter. It’s a rich looking purée that comes with little dishes of shredded cheese, a pot of sauce and slices of baguette. Add those to the soup, they’re told. And both do just that.

I’ve chosen the Black Angus steak and it comes with tiny new potatoes. Both are heaven. I share as even though these are reasonable French portions, I can’t finish. But I can look forward to ordering this again.

And those desserts.

Kat has the name of the one she and BW split. Big dessert that our waitress in Eze explained as: pie, cream, pie. Kat looked it up and the authentic French method of creating it takes two days and a gelatin sheet. I choose a little pot of lemon cake with cream, oh my! I think Jason got something chocolate, but I was a little busy.

A long, lovely meal that ends under the stars. I’m grateful for the walk back.

I’ll workout hard today to make up for that meal, a good trade in my book.

The mourning dove brought a companion to the pool this morning, and the cicadas are singing in the forest. I might see if I can book a massage for late afternoon as, if my battery holds out, I’ll work. Otherwise it’s terrace sitting, maybe a walk, and more wine. 

Nora

Today’s #randomkatness.

Wishing for smellovision just about now. Photo by kat

27 thoughts on “Provence, France Day 6”

  1. What a glorious day! Thank you for making it so vivid…feel like I was part of the group!

  2. Oh my goodness, your photos! Stunning and I’m reminded of my trip to south of France this past April for a writing retreat. We stayed in Languedoc province at Chateau Les Carrassess. and did some wonderful touring on down time. Wine. Food. Visual beauty. Such a wonder. Enjoy and thank you for posting these wonderful photos.

  3. As I am just back from Provence, your photos and blog are making me feel like I am still there, but the reading of your words and seeing your photos is much easier on the feet and legs! I relish, though, remembering the feel of the wind, mistral ones one day that took sent my hat flying!! I was lucky enough to catch it mid-air.
    Somewhere I heard that the hum of cicadas is the sound of summer in Provence (was it just my imagination or are they charming there and louder here?). One place we visited, Les Baux-de-Provence, had several shops selling wooden, painted ceramic, and mosaic cicada ornaments for walls, gardens. I should have bought one for a garden wall/fence.
    So, thanks Nora, for extending my visit, and showing just how diverse the countryside and cities are in France.
    Altho I’m not a Star Trek fan, your Name for the day, Sulu, struck a chord…one of my favorite Scrabble words when I have multiple “u”s…also ulu…can put an s before and after. Don’t usually like to waste an “s” unless one is already there!
    Keep on enjoying, hang on to your hat, and I will keep on reading and not posting, as it is your vacation and nobody cares about my thoughts. I just get carried away thinking about cobblestones, quaint villages, overflowing window boxes, the feel of the sun, wind and the whisperings coming through old walls.

  4. Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with beautiful pictures and your fantastic travel descriptions!

  5. As always, beautiful vistas!! Love your travel logs. Finished “Come Sundown” last night! Loved it!!! Couldn’t put it down, one of your bests! Thank you for always sharing your travels.

  6. So much walking up hills and down. I would have to eat so much protein to keep up and you and Kat do it all in sandles. I’m impressed. Nora . . .do you work during holidays because you have a storyline always in your head or is it deadlines?

  7. I love waking up each morning to your travelog. Each vacation you go on is like you take us (your readers) with you. Thank you.

  8. I love waking up to your travelog every morning. It is like you take us on your travels with you. I feel the same as you about driving in Europe. Kudos to BW.

  9. Love being on your wonderful vacation with you. Thanks for sharing, but fave part was ‘Dammit Jim’ !

  10. The wonderful thing about Nora’s travelogues? She manages to keep every day fresh . . . it’s never the same ol’ stuff. My very favorite part of today’s entry: “It’s a painting with no frame to interrupt the glory of the art.” Now, that’s writing.

    Thanks for the glorious details, beautiful photos, and charming wit. (And I think I fell a little bit more in love with Jason, knowing he’s such a “dog charmer”.) Voyages surs!

  11. That camo tree is unlike any I’ve seen. When we bought our house, the clawfoot tub had a big hole in it- so we put it into our backyard, planning on filling it w/flowers. We never got around to it, but the tree right in back of it. curved into it, & took it over.

    I love Nora’s dress, w/the lace border. But I don’t know how you traipse around on cobblestones, w/just sandals. When i travel & walk for a long time, I have to be in good sneakers w/arches. And wine w/lunch before walking again- i’d love to, but it makes me sleepy and tired. Loved the blog , & lemon cake! my fav too.

  12. As Laura looked up all our other Google work today (thank you Laura), I checked out ants. This is what I came up with :
    Ants use pheromones for more than just making trails. A crushed ant emits an alarm pheromone that sends nearby ants into an attack frenzy and attracts more ants from farther away. Several ant species even use “propaganda pheromones” to confuse enemy ants and make them fight among themselves.[
    So maybe they were reacting to NR pheromones from working out or the poor guys pheromones that she accidentally crushed………

  13. Another descriptive day trip! I like the idea of cats painted on the doors – perhaps it indicates a cat or cats live there. From the picture of Jason and the dog, it’s hard to tell who is happiest. Thank you for, again, sharing another day in your journey with us.

  14. Ladies, I’m disappointed in you, try using a hole in the ground with a broken ankle, when desperate you will! If you love cheese ask for Brie Fort or the lovely Saint Andre. On a baguette with some lovely red wine, its heaven on earth. Has to be warm and oozing! Served of course with a tomato salad, life is perfect then.

    As an alien resident of this fab country, I’ve been introduced to some of the most fab food and wine God ever created, never realised what a carnivore I was. Enjoy the rest of your stay.

  15. Thank you for taking me along on the journey with you. I enjoy reading your blog. It makes me feel as if I’m there too!
    I am a cheeseaholic, so I really wish I could have been there to taste and sample some good French cheeses. That and a nice glass of wine, with bread, would make a meal for me!
    I bet BW needed a couple of glasses after driving that big-ass suv on those narrow roads. I know I woulda!
    Love the pics and your hat!

  16. Coming from a state where we didn’t even get statehood until a century past the country’s creation, I remember being so in awe when I saw buildings on the East Coast at least 300 years old. The thought of what you’re seeing now, maybe two or three times older, boggles my mind. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you found ghosts….or they found you. What fun.

  17. “…you feel the age in the air.” That’s it! The perfect words to describe the feeling I get when I step into an ancient church in Europe. Thank you! Merci!

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