Post Card from Provence

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Bonjour! Pronounced [bawnzhoor] and translated “good day”, is such a pleasant greeting, ringing out from just about everyone here in Provence: shopkeepers, waiters/waitresses, school children, teenagers, old and young alike. It has a lilt to it, with the accent and pitch going up a bit on the second syllable and we’re working hard to imitate it…

Yes, The Café is posting from the Provence region of France this week. If you read our last post, you’re aware that Scott and I have been visiting our family in London and recently shared a post on everyday life there called London Life.

When possible, we love to take a little side adventure when we go to London. Last spring, it was Paris, this time we chose Provence as our destination. Neither of us have had the opportunity to explore this beautiful area of southern France, and since it’s just two hours by air from London, we figured it would be an easy trip.

Nothing’s quite as easy as it seems though, is it? We flew into the Mediterranean port of Marseille yesterday and rented a car. Scott’s a brave soul and volunteered to be the designated driver while I co-piloted. It was a scary way to start our experience because, although the French drive on the right side of the road, we’re not fluent in the language so the road signs might as well have been in Greek! Plus it was a raining, which made the unfamiliar signs and the correct exits even more difficult to interpret. Then there were the toll stations. Which lane are we supposed to be in? How do we pay? How much? Do they take credit cards? Are they going to arrest us cause we can’t figure this out? Someone’s beeping behind us! Yikes!

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When we finally arrived our destination, (about 30 round-a-bouts later, no exaggeration), the charming city of Apt, France we gave each other a big high five. That’s when we noticed each of us had a few extra gray hair!

The skies were bright blue and crystal clear today, so it was a great day to get out. I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of our first twenty-four hours here. Apt is a Provencal market town perched right on the edge of the Luberon mountains. It dates back to Roman times, so it looks like something out of a movie scene. The old walled village in the center of the city is beyond charming, with long, narrow streets winding between the shops and houses. There are interesting little nooks and passageways everywhere waiting for discovery and we that’s exactly how we spent the day!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

We were thrilled to discover, quite by accident, that’s there’s a 25 mile rails-to-trails (meaning an old railroad track that’s been paved) bike path within minutes of our flat here in Apt. We also found a bike shop and are now the proud renters of two eighteen-speed bicycles for the next week. A short ride today into the countryside blew us away with the brilliant fall beauty. We’re excited to explore some of the nearby Provencal villages by bike over this next week.

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

Tomorrow we head north to Vaison la Romaine (another area of Provence) for a culinary adventure. Scott will have his camera in tow so we can blog about it next week. There’s something really exciting in it for you too, so be sure to check back!

P.S. We rented a wonderful flat here in Apt. It’s old (in a charming way), and quintessential Provencal. Below is a sneak peak, but we’ll post more coming up. It might look fancy, but we really don’t have a huge budget when we travel. The post will include ways we’ve found to make a trip like this decently economical!

Nighty, night!

Post Card from Provence - Travel with The Café through this wonderful region of France. The sights, people, food and wines are simply amazing!

 

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47 thoughts on “Post Card from Provence”

  • Chris, I really enjoyed reading about your experiences with the roads in France. The round-abouts can be frustrating, but once you get accustomed to them, they are wonderful and far superior to stop signs and traffic lights. We adopted the “if you miss the exit the first time, go around again” mode of traveling through the round-abouts. Thankfully the first time we visited France many years ago we stayed with friends the first week and he got us orientated on how to pay on toll roads, parking garages, and other very confusing French things. On our last trip our car was equipped with GPS, which was a wonderful help.

    I think you guys did great! I can’t wait to see more about your rental.
    Sam

  • Chris, what absolutely beautiful pictures,I wish I was there,it’s a lifelong dream to go there one day, your pictures sort of took me on a virtual journey,Thank you for that,and all the yummy recipes, I don’t comment often,but I love your blog.

  • I love France. I know the people can be brusque if you don’t speak the language but I love it there. I can read French so I’m okay with the signage but I feel self-conscious when I try to speak it.

    All these photos are fabulous and now I want to travel. 🙂

    • We’ve heard that sometimes too Maureen, but honestly, the number of very pleasant encounters combined with the outright helpfulness of the French people we’ve met is always way in the majority of our experiences.

  • I love your posts. I was in Aix some years ago and loved the area. I did find it difficult to communicate as I spoke no French and few spoke English. I found them to be very creative when displaying their wares especially the beautiful flowers…..also went to one of their street markets which was a lot of fun. Looking forward to your next post….oh, try to get to Grasse where they make all their perfume.

    • Thanks for your comment Marcia! We have had a wonderful, funny time working through the communications barriers. Our French friends that we’ve met have been so patient with us as we fumble around in English! Despite our lack of a common language, we always seem to understand most of what we’re saying to each other! Body language helps a lot!!

  • Love the pictures and your adventure. Provence has been a place I long to see.. Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

  • Hi Chris! What a beautiful charmed life even just for a week! By the way at first I thought you were writing about an artist…a painter who paints daily in Provence! He has a website called “Postcard from Provence”! Who knows he may just be nearby! He is British I believe who moved to Provence with his wife a cellist and a young son to do his daily painting. He now conducts twice a year painting workshop for a week.. Be blessed with you lovely beautiful vacation!

  • Chris & Scott,

    Your pictures are fabulous and I’m so thankful to have found your blog to be able to live vicariously thru you.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

    ???? Kymberleigh

  • Ohhhh you’ve made me homesick. I flew into Marseilles each time I would spend a month at the Institut de Francais in Villefranche. Although I never learned to speak French well (I am just too Iowa and too Type A), I can read, write and understand it. But, until that happened I do understand the driving dilemma. It freaked me out. I could take a roundabout two or three times before deciding where I was supposed to go. And,. the drivers of those big trucks are not kind to tourists at all. Michael’s and my first biking trip was to Provence and I fell in love with it. There is no better way to see the country than on bikes. Are you heading up to Patricia Wells for a cooking class? That’s my bet. Have a wonderful time wherever you are going.

    • Good guess Mary and that would have been really fun. We’ll tell you more in a future post coming up soon! Tomorrow we will bike a large part of the La Véloroute du Calavon, an absolutely beautiful bike path through this part of Provence!

  • We spent a month in the Luberon area (Lourmarin was our village) and loved it. Our GPS died and we had to navigate the old fashioned way – with maps. Just remember that you can go around a round-about as many times as you want until you’re sure which road to take. It also helps a lot to know the village names that you will driving through as the next village will be the name to look for on the round-about signs. Many people in Provence speak English well enough to help you. The construction worker sitting next to me in a cafe taught me to mix and drink Pastis!
    Have fun.

    • Sharon, I love your comment! And so true! People all over Provence have helped us, and yes, we drove around a few roundabouts a couple of times to get the directions straight – so funny!

  • We spent a couple days in Aix—so beautiful! Some of the best food from our visit to France was there. And we got totally lost driving near Normandy. Our GPS was set to French and our map didn’t show the train station where we disembarked. BIll was not amused!!! Enjoy!! I”m off to read about your sticky toffee pudding…

  • Love your travel notes and photos! For many years my parents rented a 300 yr old farmhouse in Provence for the month of September. Lots of good memories of the food and perched villages, food and countryside, food and lovely locals, food and wine, food …. :). Roundabouts, not so much! Still live in fear of them, lol!

    Looking forward to more updates. Thank you!

    • Thanks Tricia! We went farther today, all the way to Pont Julien, a 2,000 year old bridge built by the Romans from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. The views were extraordinary, with Provencal golden light illuminating the scenes all the way!

  • This is so fun to see all this. The pictures are exquisite and everything looks so quaint. Will be looking forward to the next post for sure.

  • Crestet is a very small village near Vaison la Romaine that is worth a visit when you are in the neighbourhood. An ideal spot for photographers and still a bit medieval.

  • I can post today!

    We went there..I LOVE where you stayed and the pics are terrific..The market was very good too.
    Our husbands are supre.
    Jacques drove the entire month away.
    We were quite funny leaving Marseilles w/ the rental car..and hitting the first toll on l’Autoroute Du Soleil and we didn’t know how to open the window to toss the money or whatever it is we had to do..:)
    I hope your budget is our budget because I love that room!

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