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Trip Report: Provencal Echo

‘I am on a lonely road and I am traveling,
traveling, traveling, traveling.
Looking for something.
What can it be?’
(Joni Mitchell—‘All I Want’)

Bienvenue voyageurs. What follows is both leeeengthy and jUmbLed. It serves as a trip-report-plus-tips-list based upon our recent return to Provence (and Gard). My wife and I had been there a couple of times before, but 25 years had passed since we’d last visited this area which the Romans once called Provencia. And so, a Provencal echo.
This recit de voyage has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorekt speling or grammar badly. This recit de voyage has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorekt speling or grammar badly.
Some elements from our previous reports, such as headings, have been reprised. Eclectic musical interludes will again be included in an attempt to convey something of the character throughout this part of southern France. Hungry readers will discover a special Camargue Fougasse recipe towards the end. We hope that somehow, these facts and opinions may prove useful to travelers who are Provence-bound.

Tres etrange pre-trip coincidence: around the time that we booked our flight, I noticed a hidden cache of dusty old posters in our attic. Unraveling them, we discovered that they were from our aforementioned previous Provencal trip all those years ago. A Parisian art gallery had then been about to toss the lot into the trash, but we’d intervened. The posters were prints of Provencal scenery, promo for art shows. I had the best one plaque-mounted.

Suggested pre-trip activity: try playing French Scrabble, with a French Dictionary within reach.

The Mustique Wars: my wife, Mrs Z, is allergic to mosquito (mustique) bites and for some weird reason, I too was inundated with them in the immediate weeks prior to our departure. God’s sense of humour: after all my research on Mrs Z’s behalf about the prevalence of Provence’s dreaded new tiger mozzies, my spouse eventually suffered only 3 bites. This time, they preferred me. This report will include running totals for ‘how many mozzies bit me versus how many I killed’.
Aix: Mustiques 6 vs Myself 2.
Playing House in Provence:
Once again, we eschewed hotels for private vacation rentals. Our view is that rentals are better value. We went high-end during our month in Provence and Gard, with the exception of the apartment that we rented in Avignon. Our strategy resulted in some dream rentals. Mon dieu, it was hard to leave some of them.
Lourmarin- is a small but active tourist town in the southern Luberon, yet with our rental house’s private courtyard, we felt as though we were in a semi-rural setting. Grass and vines everywhere plus 8 types of trees and a unique seating area beneath an overhang—you’d never guess that just outside the bucolic complex’s old stone walls were smart boutiques and strolling tour groups. At night, a trillion silver stars shone overhead. This rental was comprised of 2 separate buildings. Very arcadian and blissful, Le Maison du Grand Pre. Incidentally, our gestionaire (property manager) had the same surname as the main character in our fave French TV series about the war, ‘Un Village Francais’.
Stay here if: you want your own homey slice of quiet rusticity in a beguiling green space.
End part one.

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Part two
Uzes: this Taschen-like home-away-from-home was the biggest splurge that we have ever dished-out for on any of our travels. And it was worth every penny, a Gard vacation in itself. It was a tastefully-restored historical building, a former mayor’s home with Roman roots and with an ancient Greek fountain right outside the front door. It had a gigantic upper terrace. Although located on a pedestrian lane, there was nothing pedestrian about the 2-level flat. Maison Theodorit had everything that current-day self-caterers might need, yet still retained plenty of authentic old charm. The (locked) wine cellar was once part of a tunnel system used by maquis to foil the occupying Nazis. The master shower was custom-made and a real treat. Excellent furniture. Most detailed House Book ever.
Stay here if: you want modern comforts in an agreeable historic building next to church bells.
Special note: absolutely dropped the ball on this property in Uzes. I actually wondered whether we’d all been catfished. Despite our having properly reserved several months ahead, contacted us mere days before departure to cancel (?!) and offered contradictory reasons why. We were at the same time dealing with a particularly messy family tragedy and such knuckleheadery on the part of a supposedly-professional booking agency was the last thing that we needed. Luckily for us, the actual owners were first-rate professionals who were used to renting their various upmarket properties, and they soon settled the nonsense, honouring our original reservation without delay.
C’mon man management @ You owe us for the unnecessary angst.
Aix: our apartment was part of a family’s private villa (Clos Les Oliviers) on a gated street skirting the eastern periphery of town. It was a unique location, quiet, upscale and easy-on-the-eyes. The extended family who rented to us offered free reign of their yard. We were supplied with the largest traditional market basket that either of us had ever seen. Afterwards, I couldn’t resist joking with locals, while clutching the bag for all to see, “Do you know where I can buy a larger bag?” and “Where are all the other men’s bags?”

Perfect daytrip out of Lourmarin
Sometimes we gravitate towards lesser-known towns and so chose Cucuron. It was home to an ancient ‘etang’ water pool, as shown in the Russell Crowe movie ‘A Good Year’ (director Ridley Scott lives in the area). French for water= l’eau. Provencal for water= ’aigo’. It was a pretty village. In a public lane, some trusting gardener had left an exotic cactus with a pink flower so large and lovely that at first, we suspected that it was artificial. Best Cucuron view: up by the ancient Donjon.

Most overrated attraction in Uzes: the medieval garden.
Best Map: the ‘Aix en Poche’ (pocket) map. Similar to the Vancouver city map, this one displayed nearly every Aix business in their exact location. Very useful to those of us who preferred old-school cartes.

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Part three
What Would You Do If…?
Let us suppose that imaginarily, you were a young female teacher at an elementary school in Provence. The renovations crew working at your ecole dug deep and lo and behold, some ancient Roman ruins were suddenly uncovered. This discovery was kept secret from other staff—only you were trusted with the revelation because the crew chief admires your um, dedication to the cause of learning. Reporting such an archaeological discovery is mandatory but to do so would almost certainly result in the school being closed down, with your more senior colleagues scattered to distant positions at other institutes. Your best friend on staff, another indebted rookie who like yourself, would be laid off indefinitely, needs to retain gainful employment within this particular town because she is the only child who looks after her infirm parent…
In fact, both Aix and Uzes have recently uncovered Roman ruins. The Uzes relics have been removed but the items in the former have been left in situ, complicating the construction work in front of the Palais de Justice.

A Good Walk in Gard: the town of Uzes lay atop the Eure valley, with its swan-friendly Alzon river. Sundays found families enjoying the valley setting, with woodland charm everywhere and garrigue cliffs looming overhead. We visited the valley’s well-preserved water control tank, which was the source for the ancient Roman Pont du Gard Aqueduct. The valley was at its best on sunny autumnal days, with changing leaves like russet wonders.
Best Places for Picnics:
Aix- Pavillion Vendome Jardin.
Lourmarin- the field in front of the Chateau (occasional donkeys)
Uzes- the above-mentioned valley Eure.
Market Analysis
Playing house in Provence and Gard means that one should factor in weekly markets. Everyone has their own fave marche and which is the best remains a matter of fiery debate. Bien sur, travelers may shop at stores like Monoprix, Carrefour (‘crossroads’) or Casino. But for many, the lure of outdoor markets is irresistible. Travel dispenses peak experiences parsimoniously, but markets always hit our traveling ‘G’ spot. We can’t get enough of them and they stoke our relocation fantasies. We deliberately timed our arrival at each rental to be the day before the market. Some towns have more than one market per week. Note that during 8 days in Uzes, we did not eat in a restaurant even once, a first! Donc, il a pris de la brioche.
This discerning cochon (burp) recommends the following ProvencHalles:

Aix: from the Saturday market stalls--quetsche damson plum jam and Corsican clementine marmalade made by the outfit from Isle sur la Sorgue; mirabelle plums from any produce stall. This massive market went on forever, but its hub remained Place Richelme, site of a daily produce market. Traditional pastry café ‘Weibel’ looked onto the place and made a superb spot to sip an early morn coffee while people-watching.
Other Aix-cellent foodic attractions: good-value funky-boho café ’29 Miolis’, La Chambre des Confiture (rare jams) and also Puyricard Chocolates (they slayed the historic front-runner, Bechard, which had become over-rated).

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Lourmarin: Tunisian sweets, the scent of melon, and some of the best artisanal home-made dishes that you’ll ever eat---what’s not to love about this Friday market? The cherry tomatoes were the finest that we’d tasted in decades. I was born in Canada’s tomato capital, so trust me on that.
A trio of standouts at the market were: 1) lemon pie to die for, sold by the young man whose table is in front of ‘La Rec(reation)’ restaurant plus 2) the booth ‘Popotes en Luberon’ (popotes= works hard making food in the kitchen) which was across from the upper-level Place Barthelemy wine shop; it sold superb home-made dishes, all of which were made with organic ingredients sourced from across the countryside by the lady operator—her ratatouille and mushroom pie were worth crossing an ocean for and 3) sanglier (wild boar) sausages from the young gals who run the ‘Maree de Domicile’ booth right at the foot of the stairs. So much more, including competing fishmongers, fresh hummus, art, crafts (e.g. woven baskets from Burkina Faso) and clothing. Full marks for originality to the woman who sold her custom cutlery attached to various polished stone handles.
We even delayed our eventual departure from Lourmarin in order to have a second shopping experience at this market. A much smaller local market was held Tuesday nights in a modern building at the northern edge of town, but it served as more of a socializing event.
Restaurants to look out for in Lourmarin: La Recreation; Gabys Café; Le Bouchon; Helene Lunch and Cakes.

Uzes: This Saturday market, set in leafy Place des Herbes, was most sympatico. Some music lover with excellent taste played a recording of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ on the arcade speakers surrounding the square, a perfect, moody musical choice, just as vendors were completing their sunrise set-up. Oh yeah, they also offered incredible food to buy.
Lovely Clot Azevedo came up from her Camargue home to sell sweet fougasse d’Aigues-Mortes. The ‘Llorca’ pizza van was not to be missed. Poisonnerie Clement offered a wide variety of seafood fresh off their ‘Grau du Roi’ boat, ranging from the usual suspects to ready-to-eat treats like brandade de morue and breaded items. The most compelling stall for us was that of Brigitte & Daniel Tondu. The couple have always located their stall by the fountain. They offered miscellaneous dips, dried fruits, nuts and an impossibly picturesque variety of olives (e.g. tiny dark ones from Nyons and the tasty green ‘Aglandou’). The couple offered excellent selection throughout, artfully presented. Locals flocked to them. Another fave of ours had also come recommended by locals: Les Fromages d’Helene. We bought her outstanding Comte and watched how effortlessly she handled her sword to slice off double samples for couple customers! Inventive Italian pastas awaited shoppers at ‘La Petite Trattoria’ booth. There were plenty more worthy stalls, including the table selling inexpensive Asian treats (e.g. ‘nems’ spring rolls) plus the van that cooked fresh paella, couscous and tajine.
Note that Uzes had 2 markets. The larger one was on Saturday mornings. During high season summer, the local population of 10,000 apparently swells up to 40,000. Our eyes widened at that stat! The ‘smaller’ Wednesday morn market featured an almost totally different cast of vendors, but was still a substantial affair not to be missed. The organic egg guy had his cute 6-year-old daughter as his assistant.
The same square featured a seasonal specialty market, the ‘Braderie des Poteries’ pottery show. Hard to imagine a prettier setting for such events.

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Uzes outliers who were not part of the market: ‘Gaiffier’, a moderately-sized but VG quality supermarket; ‘Deschamps’ pastries & chocolates; pricey butcher ‘Boucherie d’Uzes’; a pair of good pizza places, ‘Pizza de Duches’ and also ‘L’Ecrin de Saveurs’; a pair of appealing cafes, ‘Terroirs’ (in Pl. des Herbes) plus ‘Suisee d’Alger’, just off the square.

Avignon: unlike those described above, Les Halles was a permanent, covered marche. Such uncheap markets can be fine, but somehow seem to lack the je ne sais quoi that weekly outdoor markets possess. Nonetheless, ‘La Maison du Fromage’ at Les Halles offered over 250 vareties of cheese, including ‘Anthes’, a dill-seed infused type. ‘Christophe Traiteur’ offered various artisanal charcuterie and ready-to-consume dishes. They did a mean veal dish that equated to beef bourguignone. There were also two petite sit-down places to eat here.
We did a 2-fer while shopping for our self-catering needs at Les Halles by going outdoors and across the street, where the small corner boulangerie ‘Fabrique des Saveurs’ sold various quality baked goods. Their chocolate pastries and rhubarb rarities were world-class at everyday prices.
Fast Food in Avignon: Edgar, on the main drag, rue de la Republique, offered an excellent selection of sandwiches, salads, desserts and drinks from breakfast through dinner. Take a bow, Edgar. If only our continent’s ‘fast food’ matched your quality. Sigh…
Culinary Experiment gone awry
Uzes has an expensive gelato producer called ‘La Fabrique Givree’. One of its chi chi flavor experiments was to mix cardamom with coffee. My advice to them would be to stick to other seasonal innovations, such as their chewy chestnut flavor.
Uzes: Mustiques 20 Myself 18

Vitamin ‘W’ (wine) *those uninterested in wine should skip this bit.
While in Provence, visitors may want to drink more rose (aka gris) then is their regular habit. Tavel (Dom. Maby) and Bandol (Dom. Tempier) were two roses that we enjoyed. The Domaine Grand Chemin gris made just west of Uzes and the Val Joanis from Pertuis were another pair of very tasty wines. Even though it cost me half-a-paycheque, the bottle of Burgundian white Meursault that we splurged on, was outstanding. Oo lala!

Suggested packing tips for Provence:
Pack a couple of food-preserver freezer bags for use at markets. They will keep paella warm and fish safe. Also, consider recycling food containers from markets and shops for further use. Many such containers are extra-thick (‘just like my husband’—Mrs Z).

High quality honey is readily available throughout Provence. Special flavors to look for include bruyere (heather), which has both a spring and fall variety, and also chardon (thistle).
One rainy afternoon in Avignon, I witnessed an ugly argument between a middle-aged tourist couple. They were near lovely Place Chataignes and got into a prolonged shouting match over a forgotten umbrella. Seeing that negativity reminded me that we lucky travelers all need occasional reminders not to get upset over the small stuff. Compared to say, fleeing Syrian refugees, its all small stuff.

Fun Time--a pair of quiz questions
(Circle the correct answer)
Sister Ambrosiac was:
a) A ‘70s punk band based in East London.
b) A dominatrix based in Arles, who specialized in bullwhips.
c) An octogenarian nun who had a stall selling monastic food products at Uzes’ market.
d) The Avignon-based casting agent for the film ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.

Which French musician said:
“Music, what a splendid art! And what a sorry profession.”
a) Francis Cabrel
b) Georges Bizet
c) Manu Chao
d) Edith Piaf
e) Rachid Taha

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Question: is the town Nancy in Provence?
A-No it is not, but you may still want to view the rare footage below shot there in 1966. ‘Ronds de fumee especiale’ avec Johnny Halladay et copains nouvelle a Nancy. You may recognize one particular, then-unknown gent smoking at the table.

Guidebook goof
One of my research sources (I forget which) trumpeted a secret photo op. They claimed that a great vista shot of Uzes was available from the nearby rural hamlet, Aurehliac. That claim proved to be so very wrong that we ended up on a wild goose chase during the golden hour. C’est la vie.

Taxi in Uzes: Nabis 0466222828
Taxi in Lourmarin: Olivier Grosso 0603818233
Once again, we made use of Bus #11. Get it, stick legs? We walked ourselves silly through the wonderful variety of streets and squares, but loved every sweaty second. For one month, we put our feet just where they had to go.
Aix- This small, somewhat Italianate city, had a trio of neat little public transit vehicles. They were called ‘Diablines’ (we referred to them as ‘Popemobiles’). The tiny trio sat 6 passengers each. Diablines covered 3 routes and was quite useful, especially when it was raining.
Avignon- A traveler’s reminder regarding the annual fall alteration of time: in waiting for say, a 6 AM taxi to take you out to the TGV station outside the city, it is essential to make sure that you are aware of the seasonal time change, lest you re-call the dispatcher at 5:10 AM to complain like a fool (see ’rocket surgeon’).

A musical interlude:
Below is a French song about a mule. It is done a capella coz the band forgot the time change and left their instruments at the station.

Worthy Weather Websites: both and also served us well.

Nice to meet you
On Planet Aix, it was our pleasure to meet Thorn-Tree member ‘regards’ and his better half la croute. The two of them were able to secure weekend passes from the Guy Lafleur Anger Management Facility in Nimes, where they are currently incarcerated. Should you ever meet them, be sure to ask ‘regards’ about his experiences on the day when the Berlin Wall first came down.
In Lourmarin, we met Max & Madonna, an ex-pat couple with extensive experience in the area. Over the decades, they have rented in Cadenet and also Ansouis.
Famed author Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) passed away in January. His home was in Vaugines, a hamlet next to Lourmarin. Mayle frequented the unpretentious Café Gaby in Lourmarin’s Place Ormeaux. Just prior to our recent arrival in France, I’d finished reading his final book, ‘My 25 years in Provence’.

For to Make the Laughings
My significant other will probably never make it to the Comedy Hall of Fame, but she produced a classic one-liner on the eve of our departure. Reacting to news that one of our elderly neighbours (we’ll call her ‘Gina’) was herself about to travel to Nepal and Sikkim despite having barely survived a recent mystery disease, my wife privately quipped to me that Gina was seeking ‘Death by Nepal’.

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(laughings cont.) My own comic contribution was to greet the young clerk at Aix’s ‘Caumont Centre’ with the line, ‘Bonjour, Caumont allez-vous?’ Her response, which I’m sure was complimentary, was muttered to her colleague: "Un baragounist. Mais quelle patate, ce mec!”
One chuckle that Mrs Z and I both appreciated in Uzes was found on a remote northern lane by the cinema. A gardener whose potted plants had been pissed on too many times had left a printed-out note on a poster (note that ‘pote’ means chum or pal): ‘SALUT MES POTE! JE PREFERERAIS QUE TU NE PISSES PAS SUR MES POTS DE FLEURS. PASSE LE MESSAGE A TON MAITRE…’ Below this message was an eye-catching photo for the ages. Somehow, a photographer (the gardener?) had got a dog to stand still to pose for a shot wearing sunglasses, a stylish cap, with an unlit cigarette in its mouth and a half-finished beer mug. Superbe.
Un autre Musique Interlude:

Most-Underrated Lunch Locations in Aix
First, the aforementioned Caumont Center. Most travelers regard this historic venue as a place where artists hold their Aix-positions (heh heh), but the restaurant there also offers excellent meals in the building’s trio of thematic salons. Second, ‘Chez Charlotte’, which is currently celebrating a 40th anniversary. Their hidden outdoor patio provides a compelling location with a wonderful tree canopy above.

Odd Coincidence: the DVD collection at our Uzes rental included the new doc about the ‘Quadrophenia’ film. The day after we watched that DVD, we saw a wall stencil of the film’s iconic teen-and-his-multi-mirrored-scooter on rue Bonneterie in Avignon.
Who Knew? Fourteen French Facts.
-when French folks mean to indicate a remote place of little interest, out in the hinterland, they sometimes use the phrase ‘Cucuron les Olivettes’.
-prices at weekly markets can cheaper by as much as 50% when they are held at smaller towns with fewer tourists. For example, the vendors set up weekly at Lourmarin, then the same lot offer their same wares the following morning right next door in tiny Lauris village, for half the price.
-huntsmen retain the feet of sangliers (wild boars) as talismans.
-Knopf guidebooks to Provence, with their cool pop-up urban maps, are now called ‘Everyman’ guides.
-rumba-flamenco musicians ‘The Gipsy Kings’ have their own recording studio near Montpelier.
-many French prefer the sport of rugby to soccer, and regard any football fan as a red-neck ‘beauf’.
-the ingenious Pont Du Gard is France’s 2nd most-visited tourist attraction after the Eiffel Tower.
-the word ‘mademoiselle’ is no longer in favour and has been removed from official forms.
-Paris is the 5th most-visited tourist city in the world, after London, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
-in 1863, Jules Verne made some remarkable future predictions, including burglar alarms and emails.
-a Toulouse woman, Beatrice Bayjayday, was carried off by mustiques last year in the Camargue.
-the Tour de France retains the world’s largest TV audience for a live sporting event.
-for such a French-sounding word, ‘entrepreneur’ apparently has no equivalent in the French language.
-summer’s noisome cicada (cigalle) insect is an enduring visual motif for Provence.

Une Fois:
The world-music band ‘Beirut’ had a French theme to their CD, ‘The Flying Cup Club’. Below is the song ‘Nantes’ from that album. Note that Beirut has no Lebanese members, its just their name.

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Most Unexpected Music
Our Aix rental turned out to be right next door to a military college. Every morning, the unseen cadets would suddenly break out in heroic choral singing.
Best live music rarity in Uzes
The town Cathedral has one of France’s finest remaining historic pipe organs (see Michelin guidebook) and there are occasional concerts performed on the massive 17C instrument. Dr. Francis Jacob, from Strasbourg, played while we were there. He politely refused my request to perform ‘InnaGODadavida’ for the encore.
Speaking of Music:

Most Unexpected Food Treat
Our Aix hosts grew their own green ‘Ugni blanc’ and red ‘Grenache noir’ grapes, plus Reine de la Reine apples, pomegranates, kumquats, quince, William pears, passion fruit and citrus. We were told to help ourselves to the autumnal harvest and thus, enjoyed some uniquely fresh breakfasts.
Grape varieties with peculiar names:
a) ‘Pecoui touar’ (twisted tail) b) ‘ginou d’agasso’ (magpie’s knee)

Unexpected Reading Material
Our Lourmarin rental’s library had a collection of old German GEO magazines from the early ‘80s. Before there was an Interwank, and prior to forums like Thorn Tree and Rick Steves, the GEO magazine used to be an answer to National Geographic, another thematic travel mag featuring top-quality photography.
Intellectual Fortification:
Uzes had a Mediatheque library with 45,000 books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and more. In its Travel section, guidebooks for Provence included the outstanding Gallimard series, plus others like Hachette. The 16C building was a successful juxtaposition between ancient and modern architecture. Kids on the Toussaint school break hung out there.

Ways of knowing Provence – the Senses:

Serene sights- ‘Beautiful’ is a tired word but…
The Abbey Jardin at Fort St. Andre in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon (one of France’s Top 100 gardens) was a multi-levelled marvel to see. A poet once wrote, ‘In flowered fields, the mind delights,’ and that sentiment fairly applied there. Roses, ruined chapels, statuary and more. Follow your visit with a tour of the nearby and similarly picturesque Chartreuse Monastery.
(speaking of roses)
Also, clever artists in Uzes had painted playful birds in flight all along walls on r. Tromp.

Signature sounds-the all-day birdsong in Lourmarin; the wild mistral winds, which sounded just like approaching thunder when reverberating through our antique fireplace in Uzes.
Special touches-what’s that I feel on the bottom of my shoe? Ah merdre. Jaysus, there is absolutely no excuse for the amount of crottes des chien (dogshit) that must be negotiated every single time that one walks through some towns. Unconscionable. Avignon seemed to be the per capita worst for this on our trip. J’accuse! Paris has 20 tons of dog shit annually (i.e. 2 pounds every 5 seconds). Maybe an award for such a distinction should be created and posted all over the Travel Websphere?
-would love to report here that the ayurvedic massage apparently available @ Uzes’ Santosha Institute was a touching experience, but my appointment was cancelled at the last-minute with a flimsy excuse. I was reminded of the Zappa song ‘Flakes’.
Invigorating smells-early morn Lourmarin woodsmoke; one smell that we could’ve done wizout was the revolting reek of certain chemicals being used by workers right outside the exit at Terminal Two at Paris CDG Airport (see ‘airplane model glue’).
Terrific tastes-there aren’t enough terabytes on the Interweb to fully address this topic.

Final Score: Mustiques 22 Myself 22. A tie. I positively hate mosquitoes and have removed all Sting songs from our playlist.

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Gregg, you've done it again. Thank you so much.

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(final bit)
The WHAT THE?? Award for this trip: In front of Paris’ Gare de Lyon, we saw a young family of 4 pass by in silence, each member atop their own self-balancing, electric unicycle scooter! You should’ve seen the smug 6-year-old.

Thirty Years On
In Avignon, we strolled rue de Teinturiers and its canal. And there it was by the historic waterwheel-- the scene of the knife fight. Back in ’88 when I first visited Provence, on my own, a pair of inebriated young men squared off with knives, not 20 feet from my café table. At first, I suspected some sort of distraction scam, but no, it was the real deal. Another Avignon memory from ’88 was the dangerously fast taxi ride that I survived while coming into town. The driver was a young maniac with an apparent death wish. Nothing that I screamed back then on our highway to hell made the slightest difference (see ‘Grand Prix’). Final memory from that long-ago visit: Mustiques 4,835 myself 2.

RECIPE for sweet Camargue fougasse flatbread from Aigues-Mortes (aka gibassier)
-250 g flour
-50g butter or margarine (or maybe try Olivina)
-4 tablespoons sugar
-200g powdered sugar
-3 eggs
-20 cl fresh cream
-4 tablespoons of orange blossom (may substitute zest)
-1 packet yeast
Preheat oven to 180 C. Mix eggs and sugar. Add cream, flour, orange blossom and yeast. Mix the lot then bake for 30 mins. Melt butter with remaining sugar. Remove cake from oven then spread sugar & butter mixture evenly over cake. Put back into oven for 5 mins. Optional add grain of salt. Serves 8.
Quelle Difference!
After Provence, we boarded an early TGV back up to Paris. A mere 3 hours later as the train passed through Burgundy, there was a fair dusting of snow on the ground. From mozzies-to-snow in such a short time frame.

Et puis, le final musical interlude:

Were the wonders of earlier trips to Provence repeatable? It turned out that yes, they were. Happiness can be an evasive word, but it found a new voice again. Le dernier mot comes from song lyrics attributed to some obscure groupe de rock Canadien:

‘We are young,
wandering the face of the earth,
wondering what our dreams might be worth,
learning that we’re only immortal
for a limited time.’

C’est tous. Merci pour lis cette recit de voyage. Et Bonne Chance.
I am done. The end.

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Ah, what a great report! We too spent a very pleasant week in Lourmarin taking in the small villages and towns in the Luberon, but hanging out at the cafes within Lourmarin quite a bit. The market is superb as you noted. Albert Camus, one of my literary hero’s is buried there. We walked the short distance to the cemetery and even with my terrible French an attendant found his grave for us. Madame Camus lies beside him. We had the place all to ourselves.

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Delightful! I thoroughly enjoyed reading of your adventures, being transported to markets and of course having to google and see the wonderful homes that you enjoyed during your travels. Thank you for an entertaining and most informative report.

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Thanks for the entertaining and informative report. Smiling as I read.

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Jane, Alan, Nancy, Nance and Carolyn, thank you for the kind words. Glad to hear that it was enjoyable. We are astonished at just how different in tone the responses to trip reports can be between forums. From your above friendly positivity, to 'begrudgingly appreciative with spelling corrections and snarky one-upsmanship' (guess which forum), to smug, condescending acknowledgement, to downright hostility over on Planet TripAdvisor. Ah, those uber-critical individuals who bother to troll sites then post sneering negativity. I'm still searching for their superior trip reports.
Peace Always & Happy Travels!
I am done. The end.

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A very good idea.....playing French Scrabble with a dictionary around so as to sharpen one's linguistic skill en français, naturellement. I did once but in German, a good way to get words at your fingertips.

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That was a very pleasant, humorous, and informative read. Last summer was our first time in Provence . . .looking forward to a return trip one day. Maybe on the next trip I'll stumble upon some Pink Floyd.

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Thank you Fred, thank you Tim.
Pink Floyd: actually the most ubiquitous presence of their brand was found during our previous trip, which was last year in Italy (see trip report here called 'Bella Puglia'). A number of times, we saw sandwich board ads at newspaper kiosks promoting Dark Side of the Moon et al. In 2017 yet!
I am done. The end.

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Alan, I forgot to mention that Camus' now-elderly daughter still resides in Lourmarin. Apparently she shuns tourists, so her address is kept secret by locals.
Btw, we too visited the cemetery, a very beautiful one, yeah? Do you remember the wild boar figurine?
I am done. The end.

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I don’t recall the boar. But it was special seeing his grave.

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Thank you for sharing your travels with us! I loved reading about the markets, especially. Now I want to go back and reread Peter Mayle’s books!


Posted by
629 posts

You're welcome Laurie and thank you for reading it. Yeah those markets. A twist on another famed lyric might be, 'Provencal market dreamin' on such a winter's day...' As for Peter Mayle, apparently he was quite ill for his final couple years.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
2532 posts

My wine and liqueur appetite is always piqued but rarely satisfied -- can you say anything more about what you found to drink in the Gard?
All those interesting local fruits must also yield musts and fermented and distilled beverages, non?

Posted by
629 posts

Salut Aviro,
Really, all I could point to this time around would be the above Vitamin 'W' wine comments. We actually did also splurge on a Gevrey-Chambertin plus a Pommard (see 'debtor's prison'), both of which were expensive disappointments, unlike their same same cousins that we drank a couple yrs ago in Burgundy, both of which were world-class. My wine notes for that other trip report ('The Return of the Son of Burgundy and Paris') were more extensive. If you're interested in wine, there's a story in that trip report about a crisis at our Meursault house rental and how our winemaker neighbour, Pascal Prunier Bonheur, saved us from a genuine jam.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
3961 posts

C'est Manifigue! Ah, Provence. Brings back fond memories. You really captured it all! (Big smile)

I can empathize with the relentless mosquitos. We were in lovely Arles for a couple of nights. Caveat: fighting the mosquitos. We now refer to Arles as the "mosquito capital of the world." ;)


Posted by
629 posts

Merci backatya' Janis! Moustiques (correct spelling apparently): there exists a remarkable photo that I once took on the Tokyo subway a million years ago. The shot reveals my poor wife seated on the bench across from me, her beautiful visage all swollen from a few mozzie bites on her cheeks. What makes the foto a classic is the reaction of two little Japanese kids seated beside her---they are staring at her in horror!
I am done. The end.

Posted by
109 posts

Merci beaucoup, gregglamarsh! I actually read this ages ago when I first started researching, and enjoyed it very much - it was actually what first got me interested in Loumarin :). Soon I will re-read with even more interest as I am getting into the details of my planning, and possibly get back with more questions.

merci encore,