The end of the road

Dinner last night at our hotel was fabulous, right up there with Le Criquet in Arles. We both had an entrée salad with some kind of meat (we think chicken), pâté, comfit, roasted cherrie tomatoes (like home grown) and greens. For la plat I had lamb and Kay had fish, all with a great local rosé. The rosés here aren’t the insipid pink stuff we get in the states. They’re more like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc and this one, picked for us by madame la hostess, was trés bon.

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This morning we drove east stopping for a short hike in the Colorado Provençal, an unusual formation of ochre cliffs nestled in low pine and oak forest. Of the fellow hikers we encountered we were the only foreigners. It was serene, and cool in the trees, a great little break from civilization.

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Driving on we paused for lunch in my favorite village so far, Viens. Situated on a ridge where the Luberon mountains to the south and the Plateau de Valcluse to the north come together, this windswept town feels very far indeed from the hubbub of Roussillon or Gordes. We walked the surprisingly large medieval village to it’s chateaux on the edge of the ridge and found a couple of picnic tables with a commanding view of a valley below. Blue stone cliffs of a deep canyon ran into the distant north and west. We lunched on artisan bread, cheese, sausage, fruit and olives from the Arles farmers market. A couple of guys who worked for the local park service wished us bon appetite and pulled up a near by table. There wasn’t another tourist for miles. As we drove out of the village by beautiful old houses with yards perfect for gardens Kay and I said “we could live here.”

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From there we turned west and south towards Saignon, our next stop and yet another stunning village perched on the end of a ridge. A few more visitors there but still very quiet and peaceful. We had coffee and sorbet on a shaded patio and then walked through the village. There was a guy trying to lift a manhole cover, apparently to repair something beneath, using a shovel and a mattock. He tried repeatedly to pry it up with the mattock and get the shovel under it by himself to no avail. An apparent friend looked on offering no help! So I walked up and offered my service. We got the thing off easily the only word spoken being “merci.”

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Our Final destination before heading back was the minute hamlet of Sivergues. After a very slow 10 km of twisty, one lane road the sign read “Le Fin De La Route” – the end of the road. A handful of ancient stone buildings where nestled in the oaks. If not for a few cars parked in private drives and some wash hanging to dry we would thought it deserted. It was so quiet we found ourselves whispering. I hoped we would run into someone and get a little story of the town but luck was not with us. So we simply enjoyed the timeless setting and quietude.

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On our way home we were detoured through the metropolis of Apt, population 11,500. It felt like the big city after our day in the villages. We took a wrong turn and pulled into a drive to turn around. Kay had been saying for a few hours that we should try to get a bottle of wine to go with the remainder of our groceries for dinner. I looked up and in the small vegetable stand before us sat a row of wine bottles. Mais bien sûr, any french grocer is going to have a few bottles for sale. Back at Hôtel des Voyageurs we sat on our patio, drank our wine and savored our last dinner in Saint Saturnin les Apt. Tomorrow it’s north to Côte du Rhône

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