Autumn in Provence

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Just the mention of Provence conjures up images of lavender and sunflowers. Beautiful indeed! But what about the autumn? Is there more to enjoy than just the lavender?

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Autumn in Provence has an intoxication all of its own. With the crowds having left and the temperatures slightly cooler, there is no better time to enjoy the many hiking trails throughout the region, to sit at an outdoor café basking in the warmth of the sun with an espresso or perhaps a glass of the delicious red wine of the region instead of rosé, and to take in the changing colors of the flora.

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There’s a special excitement in the air to be in Provence during the grape harvest, September or October, when the vines are at their lushest. The sight of tractors coming and going and barrels filled with grapes along with the anticipation of what this year’s vintage will bring all add to the bustle.

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And then there are the olives. The trees are brimming with olives, as the olive harvest nears. I just love these little treasures. Such precious gifts from the earth.

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We can’t forget about the markets, overflowing with local pumpkins and squash of all variety. Plus, we can buy the lavender dried or as an essential oil.

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img_1255Yes, autumn is filled with delight in Provence. September can be pleasantly warm, as it was this September with temperatures reaching close to 90 degrees. Yet, the villages are quiet. Take a look at this popular café in Gordes on a weekday in September.

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Very peaceful. Yet, it’s still always a good idea to make a reservation for lunch or dinner if you have your heart set on a specific restaurant. But we did find that we were able to get into places in September that we otherwise would not normally be able to in the summer months without a reservation.

More changing flora.

À bientôt!

Encounters at a French Market

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There is nothing like wandering through a French market, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread, soap, honey, and so much more. It’s a lively place—the heart of France, the heart of the village.

Today, I was meandering a French market in the stunning hilltop village of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse department of Provence, keen with excitement to pick out the freshest of fruits and vegetables, to smell the lavender sachets and soaps, to stop and enjoy an espresso, and to watch village life unfold.

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Naturally, my lack of French language skill got me into some interesting encounters. I knew I was in trouble when I went to pay for my fruit and vegetables and realized I only had 50 euros and nothing smaller on me, at least to my knowledge that is. I held out my 50 saying, “desole.” The owner of the stand started speaking rapidly, going on and on and pointing to my wallet. I said, “So sorry, but I only have this.” He continued to speak rapidly and walked over and reached in my wallet and pulled out 20 euros. Oops. I laughed. He laughed. The whole line of people waiting laughed. To me, all the money looks the same. After all, it’s “play” money, right?

Next, I venture on to buy a loaf of bread for dinner. I approach a beautiful stand of delicious looking bread and point to the loaf I want. “No!” I am told. I can not buy the loaf. OK. That makes perfect sense. I am at a stand that is selling bread but cannot buy it. Why of course, this is France! There must be something I don’t know. I just pause trying to figure out how I can get some bread. But then the very kind woman proceeds to make a cutting motion with her hand. Apparently, I can only buy slices of bread? Still not sure what that was all about. So I asked for four slices.

So many “rules.” So many interesting encounters. Yet, I love this place. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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À bientôt!

The End of Summer Blues in Provence

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The temperatures in Provence are still very hot right now. Though beautiful as always, the region seems a little worn, a little tired, after a busy summer. Even my favorite Joucassienne dog is a little wiped out from the heat. Remember my picture of him from last year in June?

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Thus, I think I would prefer to visit Provence in June as opposed to the end of August and early September. However, it is much easier to get a table in a restaurant without a reservation at this time of the year. Still beautiful, still intoxicating, the Luberon seems to be recovering from a busy summer and the scorching heat. But who can complain with a view like this from your gite rental.

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À bientôt!