Tuesday, October 5, 2010

While the epicerie (that’s what they call small village grocery stores) in Bonnieux had upped our staple foods, they had been low on fresh veggies (many small stores are not open here on Mondays, and so they probably hadn’t had a delivery since Friday). The small Lacoste market is on Tuesdays in front of the church, so after checking my email (Alan had made it safely to Paris last night, and had today all planned out) I went with Mom in search of some vegetables. It was just 9am, and the lady from the farm just down the road in the valley had hardly got her table set up. We bought a few things, but she didn’t have any green beans or broccoli like we had hoped. But the grapes we got from her, mmmmm. They were the freshest tasting grapes I’ve ever had. Probably because I could likely see the vine where they had grown while I ate them! The cheese and honey man was just setting out his jars, and I reminded Mom that we were almost done with the lavender honey she had bought at the market last week. They have lots of kinds of honey here, so we’ve decided to try as many as we can. There was some acacia honey in the cupboard when we got here, and of course anything having to do with lavender is a specialty in this region. But today we bought sapin (fir) honey. I had no idea fir trees even had flowers! Luckily I had my iPod there to look up the word in the translator, because while we understood the man telling us “from Noel trees” and making Christmas tree shapes with his hand we didn’t really believe that honey came from fir trees! It is a dark honey, and I think I could detect a hint of evergreen when I tried it : )

Soon after we returned to the house we set out for the town of Joucas. A small town usually overlooked because of it situation between the large tourist towns of Roussillon and Gordes, the Rick Steve’s guidebook suggested it as a good starting point for a hike up to another small town called Murs. About the same distance apart as Lacoste and Bonnieux, the trail was supposedly much clearer and more direct.

Church in Joucas
We were a little worried about where to park (as the guidebook was mute on that essential point) but town had most obligingly made a little lot at the bottom of the hill. We left the car there and set out up through town, stopping to look at the church and other little architectural features that make these towns so neat. The trail head was clearly marked, and we set off up the hill, following old roads and flat, limestone creek beds that remind me so much of Texas. We reached Murs around lunchtime, looking around the town and peering over the walls that enclose the chateau (which you can’t go into as it is now a private home) before settling on a bench in the sun to eat our picnic lunch.

Shrine and wheat (maybe?) field outside of Murs
I liked the huge dried flowers
Ah, we love signposts!
 We returned the way we came, except for a minor deviation at near the end which brought into view a lovely cliff off in the distance. We could see the orange of Roussillon bright against its evergreen trees, but Gordes hid from view behind a hill.

After our Bonnieux experience with closing shops, Mom decided we should check out Gordes on our way home in case we didn’t get there for the hike we’ve picked out till after tourist season official closes (or so it seems) at the end of October. We walked down streets and into various shops (with some very nice paintings and some I didn’t care for as much) as well as to the church, whose walls were covered in painted patterns. I was tempted by a little iron snail sculpture for only 8 euros, but decided that I knew where I could get it if I still wanted it later.

This bakery caught our eye, and we couldn't resist...
Mom got a "thousand leaves", and mine was kind
of caramel-flavored, but more like the Spanish version,
 dulce de leche, which is lighter than our caramel.
And Dad finally got his "tarte de pomme"
When we left in the morning, we had met Madame Collette aswe walked to our car, and she had given us the key to the studio and said that we could move our stuff down whenever it was convenient. The couple who own both the house and studio (which are really all one big house) are coming down for a week and a half vacation so we have to move back down to the studio so they can have the house. We had already arranged with Madame Collette to move down tomorrow morning at 10am, but when we returned from our excursion we found all the beds stripped and the washing machine working away. Thinking there must have been some mistake, we decided to go ahead and move everything downstairs, but leave the food and at least cook and have supper upstairs. While we were moving, Madame Collette’s husband arrived with a plumber (the sink in the bathroom had been leaking a little), and their little dog Tete (who is very cute) came too and even let me pet her and gave me kisses! She is a little terrier and looks nothing like Kira, but she made me wish that Kira were here! All the French dogs are so well mannered though, Kira really would have to learn to never bark, and only wag her tail at strangers not go bounding up to say hello! I also have yet to hear a single dog bark in town, although we hear them out in the countryside sometimes.

Supper was sizzling on the stove when Madame Collette came rushing back into the house, apologizing to Mom and saying that she had gotten the days mixed up in her head. She was going to remake all the beds for us and then do laundry all over again tomorrow, but we told her not to worry about it. At least it was good to know that we hadn’t been mistaken, and an extra night downstairs didn’t really matter to us.

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