Saturday, April 29, 2017

Chapter 11even: Images from the Vaucluse

Images from the Vaucluse

this is a pre-season cafe terrace on the river Sorgue River at Fontaine de Vaucluse
The Vaucluse is the region of France that is north of Provence. This region includes Orange and Châteauneuf du Pape to the west, Vaison-la-Romaine, Carpentras and Mont Ventoux to the east ...

Think about Côtes du Rhône wine, le lavendre, le Tour de France, great weather, and more of France's really nice people, and you will want to come to the Vaucluse in the Luberon - again, and again, and again.

Châteauneuf du Pape, was, of course, the big castle retreat for the French Popes from Avignon. This, during the schism, when  Rome lost the papacy to France.  The photo shows the ruins of the Château today. 

View of the Rasteau vineyards (last week of March) from the top of the old city.
Mount Ventoux is hiding in haze, top left.

A vigneron we had come to know in Rasteau, the premier wine producing area of the Vaucluse, was unequivocal about the wine from his region being of no lesser quality than the highly marketed wines of the neighbouring Châteauneuf region.

During the last 2 weeks of March, leaves on the vines began to sprout. Daily, we could see the green shoot out and unfold in the warming sun.

windblown again, following an after-lunch climb to the top of the city

The Provençal market in Vaison is noted to be one of the best in France. We have shopped here often during several sojourns in the city.

The paella man was a winner at our table, partly because he did the cooking, but mostly, because of the riot of tastes.

Which way do we go?

The road up Mount Ventoux was closed for the season. 

It always looks like there is snow on the peak of Mount Ventoux, but it is really the  limestone. However, in mid-March this most definitely was snow.

Now, my secret is out.
small van for big clothes
In Isle sur le Sorgue, I finally started the business I have been longing to launch. 

Q: Why "confidential clothes", one might ask?
A: Maybe because it is still a secret.

launching soon in Paris

my signature brand

le slip does not mean a woman's slip in French

For more travel and other photography visit my website 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chapter 10en: Montpellier Ma Belle

Montpellier ma Belle

Montpellier - what a nice surprise! We had bypassed this remarkable city on previous trips to France, always on our our way to other places nearby. 

l'Arc de Triomphe built in 17 C to honour King Louis 1V

We credit our friend, Pat for getting up our interest in Montpellier, where she recently did a home-stay for a wonderful French cooking and language experience. 

Chateau d'Eau (above left) the water tower that connects the city's old aqueduct.

Wild and crazy architecture of the day (right) by Place de la Comédie.

We stayed two nights at La Merci, Chambre d'Hôtes that we highly recommend, just steps away from the old city where we walked and walked, and I clicked and clicked away with my camera - day and night.

Caroline's garden at La Merci where we breakfasted and enjoyed our evenings' glass of wine.

Our room with the open shutters in the restored 18th Century building 

We thought that "down the hall" was an interesting way of describing the location of the WC and shower. Now that would be 8 steps down, 8 up, eight back down, and 8 back up again. Always be prepared for lots of stairs in the old world.

Lost in translation? folie douce: tender madness, sweet madness or is that sympathetic madness ... ?

I finally found the perfect sign for the Gemini guy who is never really alone, and who is sometimes deep in reflection. Uh, reverse that thought.

What goes on behind this closed door?

Like all old world cities, Montpellier must be seen at night. Our after-dinner strolls were magical. 

These nocturnal photos captured the mood for us - an ambience of glowing warmth.

Cathédral Saint-Pierre

Thank you, Pat for turning us on to Montpellier.

For more travel and other photography visit my website 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chapter 9ine: When Money is Not Money

When Money is Not Money

The euro coins on the right - "cents" just like the heavy metal parts of our dollar - amount to half a euro, umm, fifty cents. With the current exchange rate for Canadian currency, that'd be a few dollars. Just kidding.

By the way, did it ever occur to anyone that the only thing metric about America is the dollar? 

Anyway, the French did away with public pissoirs  decades ago, mostly because of the offensive odours on the Paris streets during the heyday years of escargot and garlic eaters. But France is to be congratulated on not abandoning the need.

Fifty cents is the usual price to pay at a manned public toilet, sometimes womanned, and that covers the cost of cleaning. Well worth the small price.

The only personal conflict I have had in France was at the public Toilette at Cours Saleya in Nice, last week. I said to the lady -Joanne - who carries the change purse, mostly for the highway tolls, that I would like to take all the small copper coins to pay the toilet guy. And I did. The same coins in the picture, above. Exactly the same coins.

When I placed them on the counter, the man said, "Non."

I said, "Pourquoi pas?" (why not?)


"Ce n'est pas de l'argent?" (this isn't money?) I asked.


I was perplexed, and engaged him with my troublesome French.

"So what am I supposed to do with these? Prenez a la banque? (take them to the bank?)


"Quoi, toilet man?" By this time, I'd almost peed my pants.

He raised his voice, saying I should take the coins to a store and put them in a machine. or something???

I was not letting go, if you know what I mean.

Toilet man pushed the coins on the counter toward me with a pained look on his face that, that I read as m, merde. That is not why I was there, but what could I do? By this time I was even stuttering.

I had been hiding a 50 cent piece in my pocket all along, and realized I had no choice but to relieve myself of it.

Which is what I did, finally.

In the photo, two of the smallest coins - 2 cents - are sitting all by themselves, below the pile. I wanted to offer T-man these as a bonus because he did not live in Paris, but I thought twice about that.

Now, what are we going to do with all these coins? They are getting heavy. The reason J has a bag full of them is because one of the big Lost in Translation things in France is understanding how much something costs, so Joanne keeps paying with paper money and gets all her change in coins. Toilets and toll booths don't take copper.

I finally found a yoga mat. At the Decathlon sporting goods store in Antibes. Two euros!

The Vaucluse is in the Luberon. 

 Can anyone suggest a copyright-free map app for a blog so I can locate things for the reader? 

Mount Ventoux looms large over the Vaucluse.
The cap of the mountain is limestone where nothing grows, and all the tourist brochures say that tourists think they are looking at snow. We were looking at snow. We could not even go up there because the road was closed.

The provençal market at Vaison-la-Romaine was spectacular, as always.

Our most wonderful time in France so far was the week we had Yves and Carol visit with us from Lorraine.

We shared a home in Vaison, great meals, stories and escapades.
We will meet again soon. 

À bientôt

For more travel and other photography visit my website 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chapter 8ight: As Seen From Here

As Seen From Here 

Last night - April 12 - was a full moon in Villeneuve Loubet (we are about a 15 min. drive east along the coast from Antibes). In fact, it was what is called, a pink moon. .... I tried to capture it with my camera, but alas, I could not do it. I need some nocturnal lunar photography training ...

Anyway, the "timelines" structure for the blog is waning, and an images concept is waxing. This is to say, I am having so much fun telling stories, that the blog may never catch up to where we really are - geographically, that is. 

No more stories.

So ... where was I?

Okay, tonight we dressed up for dinner, even though we are not going out.

J is preparing gnocchi with gorganzola sauce and I am wearing the Italian shoes I bought at the market in Ventemiglia a few weeks ago. I wonder if Pat Hannah guessed right on which pair I chose to buy of the 20 or so that were on display.

Got tired of all the accommodation, damn

Noisy, nosy neighbours

Bought a caravan 

Great price

Helluva deal

Lost a wheel

Never buy
a gypsy.

roof leaked too

we heard there was a cheap room in a castle ...

drove up there in the storm, but ...

just too spooky.

The photos above were taken mostly at Entrechaux in the Vaucluse.

The riverside terrace below, I shot at Fontaine de Vaucluse.
How do you like the simple but striking colours?

For more travel and other photography visit my website