It’s a lazy Wednesday, as I was roused by the impossibly bright Provençal sun at nine this morning. The weather has been perfect for sleeping, around 60 degrees minimum, and I have yet to close my bedroom window in the three nights I’ve spent there. My wonderful Great-aunt and uncle, who rented this house almost a year prior, unfortunately were unable to make it. Louise’s health has been deteriorating, and she was determined to make the most of her holiday rather than be cooped up in the house all week.They have certainly been missed — the house is much too big for the four of us (my folks, brother and I).
We spent varying amounts of time with them at their estate in the UK. I flew in last and was picked up at Heathrow by my father and Great-uncle (who hasn’t seemed to age in ten years!), then spent a day getting over jet lag. We took a train to the Southern coast and spent the day in Brighton, touring the decadent mansion of Louis XIV and wandering the pebbled beach admiring the salty sea waves. Before long we were saying our goodbyes and on a train to France.
The original idea was to rent (“hire”) a car in Lille and tour the French countryside over three days, staying in hotels along the way. We seemed to underestimate the size of the country, though, as we likely spent more time in the car as on our feet, often in a relentless rain. Chambéry was especially nice, nestled in the outskirts of the French Alps, with an exceptional Sunday market to browse as the fog and rain slowly lifted over the valley mid-morning. Sunday afternoon found us in sunny Provence, where the weather has since hardly changed, and we took full advantage of the pool and ping-pong table the next day.Yesterday we drove through much of the Provençal countryside (through some stunning tree-lined roads) on our way to the Gorges du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe. It was nice to tour a natural spectacle for once, rather than the castles, museums and cobbled streets of typical European vacations. The Verdon was spectacular, half as big yet much steeper as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, with a road hugging its cliffsides the entire way. We escaped the car for a nice hike at the canyon bottom, with the overhanging limestone cliffs above us and emerald-green river at our side. I was trying to spot climbers but saw none — probably a bit warm this time of year.
So here we are, halfway through the week in our home in Provence, off to Ménerbes and the Coustellet farmer’s market this afternoon. On Saturday we’ll make our way to Marseille, with Sunday a travel day and the start of the next phase of the adventure…