I've been doing a lot of exploring around the country side getting to know this part of the Luberon. It is a very rural area with a lot of farming, wine production along with fields of vines, and olive trees abound. When it isn't raining the light is fabulous, as artists throughout the years have attested coming here for the "translucent" light. Often, especially during the autumn and winter months, smoke fills the air as farmers burn dead crops and weeds. The smell brings back memories of my childhood when everyone in our neighborhood would burn autumn leaves back before it was stopped because of air polution.
The top of the church in the village nearest us.
A field with a shamrock green patch in the distance.
A view of La Tour d'Aigue from the distance from behind with smoke in the air.
These weeds with white flowers grow between all of the wines when it cools down.
A field ready for planting.
A tiny shrine right up the road from our house.
Elliot, happy at last, in the sun.
I take almost a photo a day of the sky here-different every day, and breathtaking.
Occasionally, the house gets to be too much for us, and Maurice and I set out to do a little exploring. Our most recent visit was to the little town of Apt, which reminded me a lot of Monasaque with ancient bell towers gaurding entry to narrow streets now lined with shops, mostly selling clothing or items for tourists.
View of clock tower from Rue Grand.
A really ancient cathedral badly needing renovation. I liked the giant "medallion" on the wall.
Underneath the cathedral, Roman remains as Apt was on the Roman road through the area.
City fountain near the cathedral.
On the way back home we stopped at a little village perched on top of a hill, as many are around here, called St Matin de Castillon. There wasn't much there-we just saw one bar-most of the houses seemed to be closed, but it was still a charming place to walk around.
Tower of village church.
Little shrine to, I think, Mary. I liked her little foot sticking out.
A small working sheep farm right there in the middle of the village-sheep herded down the main street by a small, intelligent dog.
We drove to a ski area called Les Orres, just a two hour drive away, and skied for the day. It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. The snow could have been a little better, it has been a dry winter, but we had a good day. The ski resort is in the south Alps which is known for it's good weather but getting enough snow can sometimes be a problem. It is nice to be able to go skiing without a big hastle and just returning the same day. I am very sore on the next day-not in shape for it at all anymore.
View from the chair lift
View at the top. Maurice is figure in the middle on his cell phone.
Sky at the end of the day as we left.
We made a quick trip to Gordes, another one of the many perched villages in Luberon. Our landscaper told us there was an interesting tour underneath the city somewhere but we were told it didn't open until April. Still, we had an interesting walk around. Every building is built of stone which occurs in enourmous quantities around here. It was also used by the Resistance during WWII to watch German activities and got bombed a lot as a result. Their main income was once based on the olive tree production but a major cold front wiped out most of the trees and someone was smart enough to make it into an artist's colony which has been wildly successful. It is very apparant, driving around the area, that there is a lot of money here now.
Church in Gordes. I read the bell towers are made this way-of iron-because the Mistral blows anything else right off the tower.
A look at the stones used in a building and the view.
Like a rocky San Francisco.
Cute display at a store there. I'd like any of these things.
This huge cat taking a nap at a place where we had tea.
Nearby is a deserted village of stone houses called bories. Again, look at the rocks.
A closeup of a wall that everyone in the area now has around their property-no mortar.
Exploring some more-it helps to get out of the house and away from the continuing plumbing problems.
Our landscaper lives in a village called Forcalquier which we decided to visit. It has a wonderful ambience and some great looking shops appealing to tourists. It is at the beginning of what the call the lavendar trail and must be visited a lot. We had a great lunch there and trudged to the top of the hill to look at their citadel, now a religious chapel of some kind.
Mostly uphill here.
Lots of neat doors in the village, probably taken from destroyed chateaux.
The chapel at the very top of the village.
There is a little village called Cadenet with a sculpture of a drummer boy who led the French to some sort of victory by beating his drum and either scarring the enemy who thought it sounded like gunfire or getting the French to follow him across a stream into battle-depends on which book you believe.
Here is his.
I made another excursion into Aix and walked around again. There are religious statues on just about every corner high above not usually noticed.
This is a man-don't know why he shows his leg-going to Spain on religious pilgrimage.
Mary and her baby, Jesus.
A colorful Mary.
This duo looks Italian or Spanish to me.
A fun clock-figure underneath hold the bell and points to clock.
Another sad face on a fountain similar to another in the city.
February 25th, Ash Wednesday
Our little village had a luncheon in celebration of Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holy day in preparation for Easter. The meal was a typical Provencal meal always served on this day consisting of white fish, a bowl of aioli-a type of stong garlic mayonaisse- and a variety of vegetables including potatoes, carrots, green beans, beets,and cauliflower. I was surprised that there wasn't a salad at the end but they did give us each a think slice of roast pork for whatever reason and then, this being France, cheese. Ice cream for dessert. There were about 50 people present and we got to meet a lot of the people in the area. This being a workday, there were only people our age there who didn't work. That night they served onion soup, another tradition which is supposed to aid digestion after a heavy meal at lunch. They passed around veggies and the pork again that I passed on, then a great apple tart which I couldn't pass up-really good. We found out that it is from a small boulangerie near us which also sells good bread. Maurice has had trouble finding good bread in the area. He hates it if it is mass produced and can tell instantly if it hasn't been made in the boulangerie. I have had a couple of attempts at baking bread that haven't been successful. I will never be able to duplicate the French bread here but want to have some good bread on hand so we don't have to go out to buy it.
On another day we found a village called Montfuron which surprised up with a windmill. There is also a good restaurant there serving Basque food that we want to try one day. There was a sign at a ruined chateaux there that said that this place was visited by 27 different winds. I assume the wind comes from all directions. The mistral, the name of the wind here, is considered a real hardship, up there with the flooding of a local river. Not only can it cause damage, but it gets to your spirit, a constant irritant.
The windmill in a village not too far from us.