The Perfect Day

Today after visiting the town of Aix en Provence,  we reconnected with family friends who were former students as well, from Miami, who spend every summer about 5 minutes from the city at their family estate.  Apparently, this home has been in their family for generations and it is idyllic.  Exactly what I envision when I think of moving here...tree lined drive leading to the house, a pool in front that more resembles a beautiful rectangular fountain next to a colorful pigeonniere, lots of room for the everyone, a personal chapel, a game room equipped with foosball and a karaoke machine for the kids like Raf, enough land to grow, among other things grapes, a museum which includes one of Marie Antoinette's dresses, an outdoor kitchen and 2 large tables outside, under very old trees, to sit and enjoy the local rose and whatever fresh items were purchased at the market that day.  Oh well, I can dream, can't I?



Every summer Avignon is home to a theater festival that attracts the best of world contemporary theater to the ancient city. People were performing in the streets, you couldn't see the walls through the posters. Every inch of fence and sidewalk was devoted to getting us to see one performance or another. We visited the Palais of the Popes, where the 14th century popes lived and an old Synagogue that is still used today.
Avignon is an old, walled city with the narrowest streets we've seen. We didn't realize until we were leaving that we should have parked our car outside the walls. We rented a VW Golf, but it seemed like we were in a Chevy Suburban. We did our best not to hit any pedestrians while driving half on the curb. At first we couldn't find our way out as the streets seemed to get more and more narrow. We even stopped to ask locals and they didn't know the way out either. Needless to say, we managed to find our way...but it wouldn't have been so bad having to stay there a few days.


I like to wake up and work on this blog in the morning.  It's always nice and quiet.  I sit in front of the open window, drink my coffee and listen to the birds.  The sky is a beautiful blue, that matches the color of the shutters of the surrounding buildings and its the coolest temperature of the day.
We have a small patio or walled in garden in front of our house.  It opens on to a fountain in a little courtyard.  Today, I heard a bit of a commotion out front and found this colorful scene when I opened the door.  They were all friendly, waving and happy to have their picture taken.


Menerbes, Gordes, Roussion and Goult

View from Bonnieux



Building for sale 170 euros


Today, we visited 4 towns near each other, each one unique.  When we got hungry we munched on these little, juicy strawberries that had incredible flavor and stained my fingers pink.  The drive took us to the other side of the Luberon mountains ( very little mountains, but larger than hills).  We drove through a town called Bonnieux, and although we didn't stop, it looked like it was worth going back to.  On to Menerbes.  We got there early and it was quiet. There was a museum of truffles and wine, but too early for the wine tastings.  Next time.  Gordes, our next stop, really felt like a 12th century town as we walked through the narrow cobblestone streets.  It was crowded with tourists and funny to see people trying to navigate the streets with baby strollers.  Stop three, Roussion.  The earth, 17 shades of ocher.  We visited the quarries and left with orange shoes that will remind us of where we've been. Goult, the last town we visited, is hard to find in the guide books.  It was our favorite of the day.  We parked and just in front of us was a park where we got to watch our first game of boules or petanque.  They are really serious about this stuff.  As we walked into the town, a cat came running over and started rolling around at our feet, begging to be petted (most cats we've encountered so far are very aloof).  There were very few tourists, many hiking paths around the town, and a windmill.  We found a building for sale, but someone will have to evict the pigeons first.  



As most of you know, this is a much anticipated trip.  We've been talking about buying a place here for eons, but will it live up to our expectations?  This is the first time that we are spending more than a few days here and we have lots to explore.

We rented a place off the internet, in a town called Lourmarin, that we'd never heard of, that didn't take credit cards and sent the travelers cheques for the deposit off in the mail to some unknown person in Aix en Provence.  All the while crossing our fingers that the little cottage really did exist.  The TGV or high speed train from Paris took about 3 hours and dropped us off near Aix.  We jumped in the rental car armed with our map and directions to the town that read as follows...take direction aix-en-provence...then direction sisteron, take the pertius exit then direction cavaillon, villelaure, cadenet, then lourmarin.  What kind of directions were these?  No names or streets, highways, routes, etc.  We were to learn that this is indeed the best way to find where you're going.  The signs are all marked with the town names at each round-about and it is nearly impossible to see the little names of the roads.  
Lourmarin is indeed exactly where we wanted to stay.  It is centrally located, in the middle of all the towns we planned on visiting.  The little cottage we rented is perfect for us.  Although there are lots of open markets each day of the week, we found a supermarket about 10 minutes drive away to buy all our staples and plan to explore the markets for fresh items. 

Last Day in Paris

Modern technology is truly amazing.  Today we decided to sit at a sidewalk cafe and do some people watching.  I brought my computer since it was a wifi (wee fee in French) zone.  I was chatting with a friend in Barcelona, a student in Rome and my niece in Miami all at the same time.  It doesn't get much better than this.   A quick stroll on the Champs Elysee to see whats going on with the electric cars.  Pretty kewl stuff.
It is was a great time in Paris.  Got to have dinner with the family.  It's always too long in between seeing them, but always much to catch up on when we do.


Le Marais

Today we decided to take a walk through the Marais.   We got out of the train and saw how summer school should really be taught.  Right on the bank of the Seine river.

We roughly followed a walking tour we found online.  Starting at the Hotel de Sens (where Queen Margot had numerous love affairs) and through the covered passageways and courtyards of the St. Paul Village, even in Paris, Raf will manage to find a bear.
Can you see those prices?
They actually taste as good as they look!
No longer a deli, but a clothing store.


Paris , Day 2

We were excited to be here once again for les Soldes, but as our friends warned us, the pickings were slim.  It seems when the sales start here in Paris, everyone runs out to fight for their previously identified items on the first day.  Oh well, not much luck there.  So after a delicious 2 hour French lunch at a sidewalk cafe, we headed to the Opera Garnier.  Although we come to Paris every year, we have never been inside.
It was very beautiful, and we could just imagine what it was like watching an opera with everyone all decked out.


Much to our disappointment, our favorite restaurant was closed for the summer and in the mood for bistro food we chose Bistrot Melac.  (I know it seems that a lot of what we write is about food, after all, we are in France.  Luckily, we've been walking everywhere and have a 4 floor hike up to the apartment where we are staying.) When we walked in were were handed an extensive menu of wines we had never heard of, with very reasonable prices.  Good food, GREAT cheese and since they were short staffed the owner Jacques Melac asked us to assist behind the bar.  Just kidding, but he is a jovial character with a wonderful moustache and we had a great time!