01 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 12 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape y Gordes y Sénanque y Ménerbes

We awake to another grey, cloudy morning but decide to think positive thoughts and expect the sun will come out! We’ve slept soundly and comfortably in our basic Ibis hotel room. You can’t beat this location and the available Internet and coffee shop make us happy.


One of the tasting rooms at Musée du Vin

After café mocha and some Internet browsing, we’re happily on the road by 9:30am. We’re driving to Gordes, but one wrong turn and we end up winding through areas of Avignon where we’ve no reason to be, ending up on the road to Châteauneuf du Pape. For whatever reason CA had given up on thoughts of visiting the mecca of wine making and thought to drive straight to Gordes. Silly man. Châteauneuf du Pape is not-to-be missed. We love it, and spend an hour or so in the Musée du Vin appreciating the exhibits and tasting the wines. A lovely time.

We finally arrive in Gordes in time for lunch to find the cloud cover hanging low over this ancient village—the gorgeous views we’ve been promised are out there somewhere beneath the pea soup fog. After easily parking, we clamor up and down and around on the roughly cobbled streets, seeing no one and nothing much. We settle in for lunch at Le Provençal, ordering the ubiquitous entre côte—this one with a shallot sauce. I think I’m done with entre côte. It is after all top sirloin, and never tender. Still, the frites are many times outstanding…. That’s about the best thing you can say of today’s déjuener.

Before leaving the Gordes area, I insist that we visit the 12th century Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque which in July would be surrounded by the lush, purple lavender of the Luberon. An original photo of that scene is framed and hanging in our entry foyer at home, so we HAVE to see the Abbaye.

Here, just 2km from fog-bound Gordes, the sun is shining and the vistas are clear. The lavender is wintering over—the grey-green plants near to the ground, with straight and orderly rows running for acres in several directions and spreading out across the rolling hillsides in patterns reminiscent of patchwork quilts. Lovely. The road is narrow, winding and treacherous--leaving no opportunity to snap photos of the gorgeous terrain until we reach the Abbaye.

I also push to go to Ménerbes, made famous as Peter Mayle’s original Provençal home. Gawking tourists have driven him away, but he’s recently resettled back in the Luberon in Lourmain a town just on the other side of the Montaignes Luberon . We scope out the house, and take some photos… I know, cheesy, but we are American tourists.

We decide that the rest can wait for a future trip, and are soon on the A7 heading toward the A8 and in two hours we’ve returned to Mougins. It feels good to be home. CA drops me at the boulangerie for a baguette and I enjoy my walk back to the villa where we make dinner from our baguette, a selection of cheeses, olives, and chocolate. Bliss.

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