When I left off, we were driving up from the Cote d’Azur to the Luberon, a region of Provence full of hilltop towns, vineyards and farms. The drive was long but beautiful. Our first stop was the small town of St. Saturnin-les-Apt for lunch. The town was oddly deserted, because it was a Monday. We had simple sandwiches and a beer at a café, then climbed to the ruined medieval fortifications and cathedral at the top of the hill.
From there, we stopped at an olive farm for an olive oil tasting and did a short tour of the processing facility, then visited a vineyard where we tasted rose and bought a bottle. We also visited Roussillon, a hilltop town known for its brightly colored ochre soil and clay cliffs and buildings, all in shades of orange, yellow, red, purple.
We arrived at our inn for the next few days, La Ferme de la Huppe, a guesthouse on a farm near Gordes. This was my favorite place we stayed on this trip, and probably in my top three of all places I have ever stayed. It was the quintessential Provencal farmhouse, set amid green patchwork fields and gravel lanes, updated for modern guests. Our room was large and comfortable; after checking in, we immediately put on swimsuits and settled in at the pool. I was thrilled to lie in the late afternoon sun, a glass of rose nearby. I felt so lucky.
That night, we had dinner at the farmhouse restaurant. Dinner is extra so we just did it one night, since we knew the restaurant was highly acclaimed. And it was incredible, a multicourse meal with fresh local ingredients, out on the patio at dusk. Perfect.
The next morning, I went for a short run on the quiet country lanes: so idyllic.
This was about an hour and a half hike to a nearby Abbey set among lavender fields. The hike was tougher than we expected (we took at least one wrong turn, as we usually seem to do) and ended up at the Abbey parched and tired. We couldn’t tour the abbey because you need reservations, so we just hung around and looked at the lavender and picnicked on our market purchases, before making our way back to Gordes.
Later, we visited Menerbes, which ended up being our favorite village, so peaceful and relaxed, not as crowded as some others. We relaxed there for awhile, just reading and looking out over the countryside, and had an excellent dinner that night in Bonnieux.
Provence was probably the most relaxing part of the trip. While we were busy during the days and saw a good number of towns and did lots of walking/hiking, we also took the time to enjoy things slowly, to read and watch the sunset. I could see how a person could spend a few weeks or months there, enjoying the slow pace, the incredible beauty of the unsullied landscape, the excellent food and wine.
Next up: Beaune and Paris