France Provence 2000.12.03 - 12.12

Provence with Mako

We weren't planning to visit Provence 3 times in 2 months, but here we are. Again. Masami's good friend from Japan, Mako, found time to travel with us. Airfare from Tokyo to Europe was especially cheap before the holiday season. A few phone calls and emails, and it was decided. Mako would join us for 16 days. The location wasn't important. We picked Provence for several reasons: we already had a rental car, we knew we liked the area, we knew how to find and rent a house with a wood burning stove, and Wes could "speak" the local language. We rented a Gîte in St. Saturnin les Apt (also called St. Saturnin d'Apt; don't ask us why) for 8 days and planned a slow, relaxed tour of our favorite places. Mako's second week with us is completely open - should we go to the Loire Valley? Paris? Italy? the Côte d'Azur? extend our stay in Provence? We'll decide later.

St. Saturnin les Apt is a short 9km north of Apt. An outdoor market is held every Tuesday morning. Although much smaller than the Apt market, it had most of the food essentials we wanted.

Masami and Mako select vegetables and fruit for dinner. Other stands had scented soap, honey, meat, fish, olives, cheese, furniture, and potted flowers.
The St. Saturnin Château rises above the town. From the top, the whole town and surrounding mountains are in full view.


Roussillon is known for its ochre and rust colored pigments. Above the town is a short 30 minute walking course through sedimentary cliffs colored with oxidized ferrite.

From the town looking towards the start of the 30 minute walk. The range of colors is clearly displayed on this sand stone cliff.
Many of the exterior walls of the buildings in Roussillon are red and yellow like the surrounding soil.


Near Gordes (see the page titled "In and Around Apt") is Village des Bories, a restored stone village built during the Bronze Age and continuously lived in until the 18th century. Stone structures of similar beehive shape are found in Ireland, Spain, Italy, and other parts of France.

Mako and Masami inspect shelters where pigs and goats were kept. During tourist season, this place is probably jam packed with people. On this chilly winter day, we had the entire grounds to ourselves.


A visit to Avignon isn't be complete without lunch at Hiély (Tel: +33-(0)4-9086-1707, closed Tuesday and Wednesday). The other customers were in business suits. Fortunately we came along to balance the attire with a more casual backpacker's style.

Just getting to our 4th course - the cheese platter from which you choose any number of cheeses from about 25 varieties.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

A fabulous place to buy quality, delicious bread spreads like tapenade and olive oil is Les Délices du Luberon at avenue du Partage des Eaux, L'Isle sur la Sorgue (Tel: 04-9020-7737).

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