A Foggy Morning

We had a whole day of rain on Saturday, unusual and much needed. Of course, this brings to mind all that the people of the South are going through with the hurricane. I can’t imagine such destruction and my thought and prayers go out to them. Back to my happy and blessed life-I vow to enjoy every moment-I love it when I wake up and I can see fog in the valley below. The valley is called, in the old Provencal language, the Valley of Water and I think this is why there is often fog when the weather is right. I jumped in my car and quickly went to my favorite little valley to see if I could get any photos. I should have left earlier as as soon as the sun comes up, the fog disapaites. I enjoyed the experience, none the less.

A little fog can be seen in this photo.

I especially love this cross beside a vineyard, probably put there in memorial to those who died in the wars that so heavily touched the people here.

No fog, but a sign that autumn is almost here with this field of what I call pumpkins. It is a type of squash that tastes similar to pumpkin. I use it to make a really good soup. You can buy a whole one in the markets or just a wedge, which is nice when you are cooking for two. One of these days I may try it making a pumpkin pie.

Ile sur Sorgue

Another beautiful, and popular, village is Ile sur Sorgue. It is a village where the Sorgue River splits in two and then circles it. Full of narrow streets, charming squares and canals with water wheels, it is a little Venice of Provence and best known for its antique market every Sunday. I’ve never been able to find anything affordable there, but it is fun to look.

One of the water wheels on the river.

I love this sign on a cafe there.

Ile sur Sorgue has a fabulous church. Much of it is painted this wonderful blue color. These golden angels are flying on the back wall of the church.

Some more angels sitting on either side of an arch.

Pernes des Fountains

Near Ile Sur Sorgue is an interesting little town with 35 Fountains. You can pick up a map at the information center that shows you a walking route. It takes 2 hours to see them all. We just found a few and, as it was so hot, made it a short stop. There is a very interesting gate to the city here as well, centuries old.

I especially liked this little angel fountain.

The mistral, that Provencal wind that can be very irritating, joined us on our travels and did some interesting things to the clouds over Pernes.


We had to make a quick trip into Carpentras, an interesting little town. There is an ancient 14th century gate left from the past and, right behind the church, almost touching it, is an old Roman arch almost worn smooth. I found these autumn-looking plants for sale there which I wish I had bought.

This door knock with the head of a friendly dog appealed to me.

Here is the beautiful church there, a real mix of styles.

Autumn Arrives in Provence

Aren’t these grapes a lovely color? They are getting close to the time when they will be harvested. This hasn’t been an extremely hot summer this year so it is hard to know when harvest will be. Each year I hope I will get to see the vendage, the harvesting of the grapes and the making of wine, but I always miss it. This year, unless there is a late harvest-they are usually in September-I will miss it again. I vow to be here next September. I hate to keep missing it.

I was driving along one day on one of the little narrow roads that are all over the place in Provence past a vineyard that Maurice and I have visited before, when I suddenly saw this windmill that hadn’t been there before as far as I can remember. The body of it looks old but the wooden structure and arms are all of new wood. Anyway, it is a lovely sight to see sitting amongst the grape vines.
I think Autumn is defintely here in Provence. On the 15th of August, for the first time, I needed a sweater when we ate dinner out on our porch. The area got its first rain in months last night and there is that little coolness in the air, especially in the mornings. This is when that lovely slant of the sun occurs and the light is particularly golden.

A House in Provence Chapter 11

A sign on the side of a building in St Remy. You can tell we are in wine country.

These types of ruins are very common in France. This was at the top of a little village near St Remy.

Chapter 11

We’ve Got Bigger Problems

Well, the beast under the house died. The plumbing problem has turned out to be a disaster. The plumber came out twice with a roto-rooter and the problem remained. Next he pulled out the bathtub which involve removing tile around it, breaking most of it. Then he pulled out the shower and discovered a huge hole in the pipe under the floor. Apparantly this was the source of our problem. He thought that perhaps someone doing the maisonry dropped something heavy and broke it. Whether they knew it at the time or not doesn’t really matter. The plumber fixed the pipe and, since it was a Saturday, quickly took off without test anything.
Maurice turned the water on in the sinks and went out to watch the flow from some port outside that let him look and he watched huge amounts of debris flowed by. (On the street, by our house, a lid can be pulled up and the flow of water in seen in a little open channel as it goes down hill to the water purification area.) Finally, the pipe couldn’t handle it and it clogged up somewhere up the line and the flow went down to a trickle. We were told the toilet upstairs was connected to another pipe and that it was going to work.
Well, things went from bad to worse. The toilet upstairs slowly started slowing down and finally, when I took a bath upstairs and let the water out of the tub, something seemed to break under the house and water poured under the floor. We think another pipe broke, maybe due to the backup in the former pipe. We think we now have two problems, the first broken pipe and a new broken pipe.
To say we were depressed is an understatement. Here we had a beautiful house and, really, we could’t live in it. There is a fabulous view and the skies are blue with incredible light pouring on the trees. There is a gite in the village up above us and we thought there was a possibility that we would be reduced to going up there to use their shower and toilet. We decided we had had enough and made reservations on the TGV to go back to Paris on Christmas Day. We did’t plan to come back until the problem was solved. I felt like Scrooge and had visions of boiling Stephane in olive oil and burying him with a sprig of lavender in his heart. Merry Friggin Christmas. Bah, Humbug.
Plumbing problems continued to abound into February. A plumber came out and finally got the pipes unplugged. The shower was reinstalled along with the bathtub and it’s tile covering. Everytime I emptied the bathtub or flushed the toilet I said a prayer. And, to add to my sense of doom, there was an unexplained odor in the bathroom smelling like wet cement. Maurice went under the house to see if it was wet but found only dry dirt. Fianlly, the toilet started doing its ineffective swirling thing again and I was unable to use the upstairs bathtub in the bathroom without the odor. There was some sort of new blockage involving the upstairs bathroom and the downstairs toilet.
We called our trusty building supervisor again telling him our problem only to be told that at least we had a working toilet and could take a shower. He had bigger problems to deal with elsewhere. We called our insurance company and reported the problem and started getting our own people out to start finding the problem.
In thinking about all that has happened we have decided that the plumbing problem started when they dug the foundation and discovered more rocks than they expected. We feel that they didn’t dig the foundation hole deep enough and as a result the pipes weren’t installed properly.