Exploring Provence for the First Time: Day One

Follow Linda and Dave Beach’s story about their first trip to Provence:


On Monday we drove to pick up my parents at the Marseille Airport. We had planned to explore the coast near Marseille that day, but since Dave wasn’t feeling well and Mom and Dad were jet lagging, we headed back up to Bonnieux.

We also found out that my parents’ cat had knocked a flower pot off of a counter onto my dad’s toe the night before they flew over. He lost the toenail and had a very sore toe which was not a good thing to have for walking the hill towns of the Luberon! But he persevered and only whined on occasion. We stayed in and cooked chicken for dinner since Dave’s stomach was not up to dining out. If you rent a house and plan to cook, be sure to get the temperature conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius as their ovens only have the temps in Celsius. We actually cooked several meals in and enjoyed having this option.

henri-and-maria.jpgEvery morning we went down the street to the famous Henri Tomas’ Patisserie. We were told by Christine McConnell to say hello to him from her and that we were staying in her house. He must like her because he treated us exceptionally well! We had breakfast and/or picked up goodies every day”¦except Tuesday which is the only day he is closed. He is quite a character – animated and friendly! He thought that my father looked like Michael Caine and said “Bonjour Monsier Caine” when he came in. Henri speaks mostly French, but with a few charades he is easily understood. He also makes wonderful pastries! My favorite was an almond brioche with bits of almond praline. Dad’s was a raisin brioche and Dave and Mom liked them all.

Our first day of exploring took us to the nearby village of Lacoste, where Dave was sure that he would find shops full of shirts with alligators on them, but of course that wasn’t the case. Streets here are even more narrow than in Bonnieux and we actually stopped the car at one point and walked ahead to see if we could get through without getting stuck! (A local Frenchman adamantly informed us that “c’est possible”.) This village has a castle that was formerly owned by the Marquis de Sade, from whom the word “sadism” was derived. It is now owned by Pierre Cardin and is not open to the public, but it dominates the skyline of the small village. We always meant to come back and walk around the town, but never found the time.

We then went on to Menerbes where we had lunch at La Gaboulet which was recommended in an article from Slowtrav. The best of the entrees was Dave’s cod with aioli. We walked around the village after lunch enjoying the views. Lots of pictures”¦ Hoping to taste some wine, on the way back we stopped at Chateau L’Issolette which was recommended by friends. They were closed, but just down the road we found the owners of Chateau de Mille out tending a horse. After being nearly chewed up by their watch dog (yes, there was a sign that warned us of it), we were able to purchase several bottles which were quite good.

We did have the dreaded “mistral”on that first day. It is called a mistral when the wind blows strongly from the northwest. Although it is typically sunny during the mistral, it is also cold! The next day, however, the mistral was gone and it was sunny and warm.

Next, we visit beautiful Rousillion.

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