Gordes—The Jewel of the Luberon

IMG_0099.JPG

Placed in a commanding position with all her majestic glory is a village that shines like a jewel above all others. She wears her crown well as visitors flock to capture her image from the valley below.

IMG_0087.JPG

The best time to see Gordes is when it’s calm in the early morning or in the evening as the sun is setting and the light is magnificent for photos. It’s never been too busy when we have visited, since we always go slightly off season. But I would stay away in the prime of summer or only visit in the early morning or in the evening when the tourists are off having dinner and you can have the place all to yourself.

IMG_3038.JPG

Wandering the narrow cobblestone streets and taking in the simple charms of flowers in terracotta pots, colorful shutters, and sparkling pools high up above the valley is the best part of slow-pace travel, immersing oneself in the moment.

IMG_5479IMG_0702IMG_1265IMG_1577IMG_1587

It’s also relaxing to sit and people watch at le Renaissance, a very classy café/restaurant, where there are often musicians playing in the square.

IMG_1008IMG_1605

And, of course, the nearby notorious Sénanque Abbey is a photogenic dream.

IMG_5496IMG_5488

There’s no denying that Gordes is the jewel of the Luberon. Stunning indeed. There are other villages though that call to me more, having that special je ne sais quoi that is the essence of French village charm. But I always make time for Gordes.

IMG_0081.JPG

À bientôt!

The Old Man of Storr—A Scottish Icon

106.JPG

There’s a reason why this hike is one of the most popular and photographed sites on the Isle of Skye. With massive rock pinnacles towering amid rolling green hills, valleys, and mountains, no wonder this has been the site for many science-fiction films, as it looks as though you are on another planet! Yes, stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes set the stage. Located on the Trotternish Ridge, just north of Portree, the Old Man of Storr hike begins.

DSC00614.JPG

072DSC00621.JPG

We were considering skipping it, thinking it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. So glad that we went! It wasn’t overly crowded on a mid-October day. But I hear it is unbearable in the summer, as Skye has become more discovered. The walk is rated medium in difficulty. With good hiking boots and a raincoat, it’s suitable for anyone with average fitness. There are plenty of spots to stop and catch your breath if needed. The path does get quite muddy and slippery from the rain of course; so caution is needed. We had a fair amount of sunshine on our October day but did encounter a heavy rain shower once we reached the top. While waiting it out for 10 minutes, the sun came out.

DSC00622

075

It probably takes about an hour and a half to reach the top. Once you make it, the last section is a bit of a rock scramble. You can stop here or crawl a little on all fours like I did. After this, it’s a must to veer off on the path to the left of the Old Man as you are facing it. Follow the path down a little and then back up for breathtaking views that will make you think you are in Switzerland. This path eventually reconnects with the main path to take you back down.

099.JPG

We were originally torn between the Old Man of Storr hike and the Quiraing. We chose Storr, being that the Quiraing was rated difficult. Now that we conquered the Old Man, we are ready—boots and all—for the Quiraing because the scenery looks even more amazing. Check out this family’s beautiful photos of Storr and the Quiraing for inspiration.

DSC00638.JPGDSC00629.JPG

And at the end of our hike, the Tea Pot was waiting in a parking area nearby, where we had the most delicious sandwich that I was skeptical about at first—Scottish cheddar and raw onion in a hot dog bun. Crazy good.

DSC00640.JPG

DSC00643À bientôt!