Its hard to contain my excitement right now, as I am sitting in the kitchen of a little Gite (B&B) we have rented for ten days, located 3kms out of a sleepy little Southern French village called Violes. The site is located in a vineyard and overlooks the Les Dentelles des Montmirail range. All I can really say is that the place is perfect for us and we have absolute access to the wonderful and abundant local wineries in the Cote du Rhone region and also to some of the most varied rock climbing in the country.
Our first day here was spent in Avignon as the weather pushed us into tourist mode. The rains came down and came down hard unexpectedly, so we packed the car with our lovely friends Mike and Robyn from Australia and trundled into the beautiful and ancient walled city. We simply indulged in this town steeped in history, ogling the architecture from a by-gone era and taking in a new cultural experience as we wandered.
Pouring my coffee and staring out the back door, directly into the vines full of plump product is just amazing. Sometimes you just get a great opportunity and this is one. The wine produced here is very boutique. Small numbers and only available here or in the owners restaurant in Savoie. Fortunately they have given us three bottles to sample and they have all been very good.
Its great to be able to show mike and Robyn around this amazing part of the world and also to explore ourselves, as Karine and I are checking out villages and areas with a view to settling here in the South in the next 12 months or so. Sorry but we are not rushing into it at all, to much fun to be had just yet.
Day two we wandered out into the mountains near Gigondas and found one of the local climbing sectors and did a few routes to clear out the cobwebs and settle into the area a little more. Walking through the forest was wonderful and it really made me realise just how much I love what do. I am very fortunate right now to say “I am a traveller and I rock climb”. I did not really ever expect to say this out loud, but I can and do now with a proud tone in my voice.
When I woke yesterday morning, I was welcomed by what is known as “The Mistrel”. This is the wind from the Mediterranean and it is strong and it is cold. It stops you in your tracks, even if you are super keen to get out on rock again. So, we jumped in the car and headed out on the tourist trail on the recommendation from Karine and a friend back home.
The Parc Nautrel de Luberon is a stunning area that host a few of the most wonderful historical sites in France. Arriving in Roussillon known for its ochre quarry, this stunning hill top village was a buzz with tourists enjoying the summer holidays. Everyone in France seems to go south for the summer. We walked the Ochre Trail and the landscape that has been “manufactured” by time and change. The trail is just beautiful.
We followed up with a visit to Gordes. This is one of the most incredible villages in southern France and should be experienced by all who come to the South. Truly incredible and steeped in Roman history. Caverns, caves, cliffside living and a fortified chateau, all make this village quite the unique place indeed. Just outside Gordes there is a village that pre-dates Roman history and we could not stay away. We were off again.
Walking into the Bories Village was one of the most amazing sights I have seen in France. The village is now a museum and hosts a range of tools and articles from the past that are just remarkable. Speculation about the age of the village runs rife as some suspect it to have been built in the 15th Century, while others have stated clearly that the architecture is more 7th Century. either way it is a very stark and stunning view into village life hundreds of years ago.