Saturday, September 18, 2010

A long walk and lots of stairs

With so many great places to go, but knowing that my parents will be here soon and wanting to save the big-deal places to go with them, we decided to hit the trail about a 25 minute drive to the north and west of us. We started in a town called Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, which is known for being the source of the Sorgue river. We will go back to see the actual source and I’m sure I’ll tell you more then, but just to get you excited it is one of the most powerful springs in the world at about 40,000 gallons per second during winter or spring floods, and even now the water flowing swiftly through town was beautifully crystal clear.
Sorgue river in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
We walked out of town and started up a valley on one of the Grande Randonnee (GR as they are called) long distance trails that crisscross the whole country. The limestone around us was shaped into cool pinnacles and caves. We climbed slowly but steadily up this oak-covered valley for a loooong time (being passed only once by a jogger! She was the only other person we saw that morning), stopping at interesting points and praying that the views from the top were really as good as the guidebook promised.
Looking down the valley we walked up.
The trail was very rubble-y the whole way,
which got tiring after a while.
The view was spectacular – except the fact that it was a cloudy day, and the valley was still somewhat shrouded in low-lying clouds. But you could see Gordes to our left (and we will be walking over there sometime!), and then Saignon, Bonniuex, the west side of hill that Lacoste would be on, and Menerbes across the valley. We ate lunch and soaked in our hard-earned view. Four bikers passed us, a huge bird (maybe a griffon vulture?) circled the valley below us, and the rain that was promised held off. Life is good.
The towns are a little hard to see...
Our trail now ran alongside Le Mur de la Peste (The Wall of the Plauge). Built in 1721 to stop people from fleeing Marseilles when the plague broke out, all 20km of it wasn’t enough to hold back the plague which continued to spread. It’s ruins now run about waist high, looking like any stone wall you might see in the woods of Vermont. We past some of the guard tower ruins, as well as one section of the wall that seems to have been restored to about shoulder-high. People build walls in the oddest places—just like at the Great Wall in China, it left me wondering how a wall here would stop someone who has already climbed mountains? Ok, the Great Wall was a little bigger, but so were the mountains over there!
Le Mur de la Peste
Our loop took us down another valley, this time filled with pine and cyprus trees, leading us through what was (or is in flood time?) a creek bed, with the limestone carved and worn by years of water that seems to have disappeared. Finally our car was in sight, and our weary legs were happy to go home.

Our legs weren’t done for the day yet thought. After getting back to the studio, we went in search of Madame Collette again, as we were now supposed to move into the main house. We knocked on her door, but no one was home. I decided to check my email, and stepped out into the street (I had found I can pick up the internet just a few steps up the road from our door) when who should be walking but, you guessed it, Madame Collette! I think we must be telepathic or something. Now if only I could send actual words instead of just “where are you” vibes then we’d be getting somewhere!

The studio is really the first floor of the house (which has five floors! Albeit small.) and there is a doorway from the studio to stairs leading up into the house. So Alan and I spent a busy few minutes carrying all our things up the stairs while Madame Collette went about tidying things up and pointing things out to us (like how to use the washing machine, after she laughed at our pile of laundry : )
Patio (and entrance to the house)
Dining room
Living room
More kitchen
Stairs going up to bathroom and bedrooms
Washing machine! The drum spins vertically.
At the very top of the tower, the last bedroom
And so we settled into a larger, nicer version of where we were before, and while I do appreciate the larger kitchen and rooms I did miss sleeping in our “cave” down below.


  1. Wow, really cool. The views are spectacular and your new space is really nice. What an adventure. Happy posting.

  2. W0W, what a great place. It looks so clean and airy. God has blessed you. And now Mom & Dad coming share it--couldn't be better!!!