Oppède-le-Vieux—Breathtaking Enchantment

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Every visitor to the Vaucluse department of Provence must make time to visit this raw, rugged, breathtaking jewel of the Luberon. Frozen in time, Oppède-le-Vieux enchants its visitors with its majestic position clinging to the side of the Luberon. Even the walk up from the parking lot into the village is like walking through a botanical garden, with the flora and cypress trees beckoning one to come discover this enchanting place.

IMG_0907Dating back to the 12th century, Oppède-le-Vieux charms its visitors with its architecture. From the center of the village, it is just a short, steep hike up a cobblestone path to reach the ruins on top, where there is a spectacular panorama of the Luberon Valley.

Afterward, visitors can enjoy lunch or a refreshing beverage in the center square at le Petit Café, which is a Mediterranean restaurant serving quite tasty fare. This is a lively little spot to watch the comings and goings of the village, while the owner’s dog mingles with the guests or lounges on a spool in the midst of all the shenanigans.

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For a truly enchanting experience, though, go in the evening for dinner when the village of Oppède is all lit up against the cliff. This is the time when the tourists have moved on and the locals have arrived for a delicious meal in a dreamy environment. Finish the evening with an after dinner stroll through the illuminated streets for a memorable evening under the Provençal sky.

À bientôt!

Escape on the Bike Route—Riquewihr to Ribeauvillé

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs mentioned before, one word comes to mind to describe the Alsace—Ridiculous! That is because it is all you can say as you venture from one village to the next, finding each one more ridiculously charming than the last.

While we love exploring the villages, we also find the need to escape the crowds and soothe and calm ourselves amid the vines, trees, and mountains. Our fondest memories of our time in the Alsace are doing just that.

Since our home base was at a gite rental in Riquewihr—yes, ridiculous with a capital R—we regularly walked the bike route from Riquewihr past the sleepy village of Hunawihr to the village of Ribeauvillé with its ruins of three châteaux (Girsberg, Haut-Ribeaupierre, and Saint-Ulrich) towering above. This walk, set at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, is absolutely serene. The vineyards are lush and beautiful, just like in my Bourgogne, and the scenery is majestic and stunning.

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Our first day in the Alsace, we got a little carried away and walked the 5 kilometers to Ribeauvillé, hiked up to two of the ruins (Château du Girsberg and Château de Saint-Ulrich), explored the village, and then walked the 5 kilometers back to Riquewihr. But no worries. There were plenty of boulangeries, pâtisseries, and winstubs (or wistubs) in which to nourish ourselves before our journey back to Riquewihr, where many more boulangeries, pâtisseries, and winstubs awaited.

Our gite rental in Riquewihr was the highest quality rental we have enjoyed staying in while traveling through France. If you are looking for a beautiful place to stay in the Alsace region, there are no better accommodations than at les Remparts de Riquewihr, where there are 15 luxury rentals set within the remparts or within the village, with some overlooking the Schoenenbourg Grand Cru vineyard.

Being that Riquewihr is extremely popular, due to its charm, it was so nice to leave the door of our gite rental and escape into the vineyards on this peaceful and scenic bike route with nothing but a few chickens running around, the dreaminess of the blissful village of Hunawihr amidst the vines, and the ruins of the three châteaux rising above.

À bientôt!

“Burgundy Healed Me”

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Funny story. A few years back, I was undergoing a bit of a stressful time, and we decided to take a last minute trip to Burgundy to help me “recover.” Escapism, I know.

So we arrive in Meursault exhausted after flying all night and pick up our “hidden” key to our adorable gite rental. We open the door and begin to explore our new home only to discover that it had not been prepared for us since the last guests checked out. I felt a little stressed. So we called the gite manager, and she sent someone right away to clean and prepare it for our arrival What to do?

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We have a couple hours to kill, so we decide to sit in the center of the village and order a bottle of Meursault while we enjoy the fairy-tale-like view of the château. Being as I had been under a lot of stress as of lately, I say to my husband, “It’s amazing how well I am doing!” He responds, “It’s amazing how well you are doing? You are sitting in the most charming wine-making village in Bourgogne sipping a Meursault wine in front of a château, and it’s amazing how well you are doing? Yes. You deserve a medal for enduring such hardships!” Point well taken. We had a good laugh, and “It’s amazing how well I am doing!” became the saying of our trip.

I kept saying that I am going to write a book entitled “Burgundy Healed Me.” Yes, being amidst the vines is soothing, nurturing, healing.

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There are so many beautiful, serene spots in this world to be discovered. But as any Francophile will tell you, there is something addicting, something intoxicating, about France that keeps one needing more.

À bientôt!