Leaving Arles this morning we had a small snafu and momentary panic when we realized that the human ticket booth at the station was closed on Sunday and the machine only took change. We had plenty of bills but few coins. Thankfully a kind cabbie took pity on us and changed a 10 euro note. From then it was smooth sailing. Soon we were driving east from Avignon towards the Luberon. Kay expertly handled the car while I navigated.
Our first stop was the ancient, partially crumbled village of Oppéde Le Vieux. The village is built of stone and old beyond remembering. Parts are crumbling while others are in good repair and lived in. The crags of the Petit Luberon mountains form the backdrop. We ate at the excellent Petit Café with hikers, bikers, and cyclists. From there we set off north across the valley. We cruised tiny country lanes through rolling vineyards and stone farm houses.
Rousillon, our next stop, while beautiful was full of big bus tourists and a little like Disneyland for adults. It’s famous for its ochre cliffs which provided the town’s prosperity until synthetics began to be used for paint color and dye in the 1940s. We brushed the ochre dust off our shoes and continued north to Saint Saturnin les Apt.
Understand, dear reader, that we are now traveling without a net. We have no hotel reservations until Friday night in Nice. We walked into the time warp that is the Hôtel des Voyageurs and asked in broken French if they had a room for a couple of nights.
The delightful proprietor said we would need to come back at 6 o’clock. She wrote our name down in her tattered guest book. We weren’t sure what to make of all this but left hopeful.
We walked to the top of the village which feels healthy and untouristed. There was a fête (flea market) in the main square, cats wandering the streets at random and a few people exploring.
Past the beautiful 11th c. romanesque church we climbed to the crumbled, ancient chateaux. We peered down at a small reservoir, the towns water supply. After hiking back down it was still no where near 6 so we sat at a table on the square. In a few minutes our hostess found us and ushered us into a delightful upstairs room opening on to a quiet, shady, shared terrace. This is living!