Lourmarin

One of my favorite villages in the Luberon region is Lourmarin. It has been beautifully restored and I love to go to their market on Friday.


Strawberries are now out and the best ones come from Carpentras. Maurice always waits to buy the ones from France. The strawberries from Spain are huge and beautiful but, he’s right, they aren’t as sweet and tasty.


I like this ancient little planter.


Colorful plates of spices for sale.


Yellow roses surrounding an open window.


I don’t know what original use was for this stone container but love the flowers now planted in it.

Pont du Gard

About 45 minutes from Arles, is a must see site, the Pont du Gard. An aqueduct built by the Romans about 2000 years ago to bring water to Nimes, it was not only functional but also beautiful with three tiers of arches to take it across the river. It can be a little confusing as you arrive as there are directions to the left or right bank but either gives you access to the bridge with the left having and information center, some shops and a place to get something to eat. It is a lovely experience and, as I read once somewhere, the bridge is poetry in stone.


You wonder how it was put together without any of our modern machinery. The stones are all perfectly cut and fit together with no gaps.


The river is very lovely and you can swim right below the bridge if you want. We also saw canoes on the water.


The view from higher up. You can arrange to take a tour up at the top but we didn’t. Maybe someday.

Roussillon

One of my favorite villages to visit in the Luberon is Roussillon. Long ago they mined the rocks and soil around here to make ochre, that wonderful rusty golden color used in painting. The color is now made synthetically so the demand died down but you can still buy sacks of the powder and paint a wall with it, which I did, or use it in your own art projects. The whole town has a great rust color and is a fabulous place to stroll around, although it can be an aerobic workout as it is on the top of a hill.


A view of the church tower as we trudged up a hill from the parking lot.


An artist who is getting it down on canvas.


I don’t know why but ceramic chickens are for sale all over the place.


The best view in the village.

Banon Cheese Festival

I made a vow to attend as many festivals this summer as I can. They are a very special part of Provence. It takes an effort though to get out there and go. The Cheese Festival in Banon sounded interesting to me but it is high in Haute Provence in Lavender country requiring driving on narrow winding roads and an hour each way for me. The lavender isn’t in bloom yet, either, something which always adds to the enjoyment of this area.
Never the less, I did drive to Banon. There was a huge crowd and everyone parked on the roads down below this perched village and took a bus up. There were all sorts of rides for kids, a stage for live music which hadn’t started yet and even a ring for what I guess would be a boxing match. The little restaurants there had put out many tables for meals and Banon was filled with families and couples getting free samples of cheese, bread and pastries and there were even some chefs there making little things to eat with cheese, of course.


Some of the cheese for sale. Banon is known for cheese that is formed into little discs and then wrapped in chestnuts leaves that are held in place by twine. It can be pretty strong stuff and often, when it is cut into, sort of runs all over the plate. Interestingly-to me at any rate-most cheese in France is made from goat milk. There is cow and sheep cheese but not in huge amounts.


I liked the shape of this cheese. It wasn’t even French, but Italian.


Some cheese from cows.


Stacks of bread to go with that cheese. They were also giving wine tastings and selling bottles of local wine.

It was a fun festival and I’m glad I went but it didn’t compare with those with sculptures of saints being paraded through the streets and traditional costumes and music but I did see alot of enjoyment by the French visiting there.

Some more photos from St Tropez Festival

As usual, I took many photos and have so many that I want to share that I’m posting a few more.


She was getting some flowers ready for the parade. I love her gloves.


Sailors marching into the church.


I love photographing children.


Proud little boys.


St Roch. He is usually seen with a dog and a wound on his thigh.


St Eunice-know nothing about her.


St Peter.


I love the face of this admiral.


They had little girls in the parade dressed up in naval costumes carrying wooden purses.

Festival of St Tropez

Festival of St Tropez

I think almost everyone in the world has heard about St Tropez. It is a lovely place, though it can be a nightmare to drive into on the only narrow road entering it. We decided to spend the night in nearby St Maxime and, early in the morning, took the Bateau Vert which makes its way to St Tropez every twenty minutes.
We were going to St Tropez to observe their May 17th festival, la Bravade. It is a festival that celebrates St Tropez along with the military. A Bravade can be a sort of military celebration and also has to do with the meaning of bragging or of being blustery. It turned out to be a very interesting festival and I like the part having to do with St Tropez the best.
St Tropez is, as is usual, based on one of those stories where the saint arrives on a boat on the shores of France with no one guiding the boat but the hand of God. He was from Pisa, Italy, the right hand man of Nero, well known Roman head, and became converted to Christianity by St Paul. He refused to renounce his Christianity and after two attempts to put him to death-the wild animals refused to attack him but lay quietly at his feet and a column to which he was to be chained fell and killed his executioner, he was finally beheaded, put in a boat, without his head, along with a dog and a rooster-which seems very strange but seem to be symbols of malevolence, and the boat arrived on the shores of St Tropez. The head, in fact, can now be found in a church in Pisa. This led to the village taking St Tropez as their patron saint and thus the celebrations every May 17th, the day when his boat landed. There are statues of him in every shop window along with the color themes of red and white, the colors of St Tropez.


Here is a small bust of St Tropez in front of a cafe. Note the mustache. How they knew he had a mustache without the head is a mystery. He rather looks like Errol Flynn.

Our boat arrived just as villagers and participants in costume streamed up the narrow streets to the lovely church for mass. There were men in military costumes marching in step to beating drums and flutes, everyone carrying small bouquets of flowers to be blessed. These bouquets are then taken home to lie beside the family statue of St Tropez. I don’t know where they get these little busts of the saint. I looked in vain for a small one as a momento but couldn’t find one. After the mass, the small village square filled with women and children in traditional dress, then the military men marched in along with the sculptured bust of St Tropez and three other saints-St Peter, St Eunice and St Roch. I’m not sure why they are also in the ceremony but it was wonderful to see them held aloft and carried through the streets of St Tropez. I found it interesting that, except for St Tropez, the other busts were carried by women. They also held sticks in their hands used to hold up the heavy statues when the came to a stop.


Here are four women carrying a statue of St Roch.


Here is St Tropez himself.


Love the hat.

After lunch, St Tropez was brought out again and this time the focus was on the military. There is much history here of defending the city, especially against pirates and this exhibition shows that they are ready still to defend it. They marched all about the streets and came into the square. This time they started firing their guns and muskets. At first it was just here and there but then they did it all at the same time making an incredible noise and filling the air with smoke. Each time they did the firing of weapons everyone would hold their ears and cough with the resulting smoke. You could feel the percussion of the air against your face and the muskets were fired at the ground. When one of the people watching this event along with us told us that they had 350 kilograms of gun powder for this ceremony, and we had seen the guns go off four times, we decided to leave. The booming of the guns followed us down to the harbor where we left for St Maxime.


This little boy had just gotten scratched by the cat you can see behind him.

I think this was one of the best festivals I have seen in Provence with all of the costumes, the delightful children dressed up and taking part in the festivities, the saints being paraded down the streets and the military putting on their displays. Another great way to partake of all that Provence has to offer.


Some different headwear than the rest and I loved this little girl.


Future sailors of St Tropez


Part of the military in parade.


The square filling with smoke as the muskets are fired.