Saturday, September 15, 2012

European Vacation Part deux: Provence, France

Finally - my post on our trip to Provence! I kept putting it off because I couldn't remember all of the towns we went to while in Southern France and (insert sarcasm font)  letting more time lapse just seemed like the logical thing to do. 

We flew from Ireland into Marseilles, France and I went from understanding language, menus, street signs, to being completely ignorant to my surroundings. There is something very humbling about being in a country where you really don't understand a darn thing. But, it's all part of the adventure, right? 
We rented a cute little (and I mean little) Fiat to drive around while we were exploring the South of France. 

awww! Isn't she CUTE?!

Once we had figured out the car situation, we set off to our "home" for the next week: Moulin de la Roque in the beautiful town of Noves, France. It is hard to put into words just how gorgeous the Moulin de la Roque estate is. Imagine a secluded area with historic buildings and plush green grass, sparkling blue pool, and the cutest Birmese Mountain dog lounging in the shade. Le Sigh. We had rented a place right next door to our friends which made it very convenient since we spent a lot of time in their kitchen cooking dinners and eating on their patio. 

After arriving at Moulin Roque, and getting acclimated to the estate we decided to venture out to St. Remy's for a late lunch/dinner. We opted for an Italian cafe bustling with laughter and the aroma of basil, wine and garlic. Our first meal in France was amazing!

In the following days ahead the H and I would set off on our own to explore the nearby villages. Some of my favorites included Arles, Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Lacoste and L'Isle sur la Sorgue. Each of the villages had thier own 'feel' to them. Of course, all were beautiful and rustic, with their cobblestone streets and stone buildings. I think some of my favorite places were the lavendar fields. I wish I could have bottled that smell and brought it home with me because there isn't anything like the smell of fresh lavendar. Another fav was Arles, famously known for the place that Vincent VanGogh was hospitalized after cutting off his ear. Another favorite place that I wish we would have spent more time was Saint Remy's. The mental instution that VanGogh stayed was located here, although I didn't see it. I also really liked Saint Remy's because of the markets and stores.

For breakfast we would eat something we had bought at the supermarch√© such as yogurt and fruit (and I would get a pan au chocolat whenever I could!) Lunch was usually at some little cafe, where we seemed to gravitate towards the pizza (i ate more Italian in France than I thought) and dinner was on our friends patio and consisted of a spread of wine, cheeses, meats, breads and of course my favorite...nutella!
I feel like every day we set off on an adventure and would explore for hours, walk for miles and take in the beauty of Southern France. However, even though we were able to experience so many places there are some things we didn't get a chance to do:
Monaco/Cannes/Nice - we opted not to do the coastal drive to these places. We had read that the drive would take hours and traffic during the summer was crazy. As much as we liked our Fiat, we didn't want to spend hours in a car.
Mt. Ventoux - there's a reason we didn't do this and I am not ashamed to say it was all me. I absolutely hate driving along anything that is going uphill. Especially when there aren't gaurd rails. No, thank you. We had our fill of scary drives when we did the road to Hana in Hawaii a couple of years ago (beautiful drive -- highly recommended but if you are scared of narrow, high roads with no guardrails it may not be the thing for you). In this case, I am perfectly fine looking at pictures instead.
Our time in Southern France was relaxing, inspiring, and something I'll never forget. I hope to go back one day in the near future. Our time in Provence was coming to an end but we were looking forward part three of our trip... Paris! Ooh la la!!