I’m back! Back from my holiday in the South of France and back from kittensitting my 2 3 month old British Shorthair kittens. I had to leave them at home by themselves for the first time today as I had to go back to work but I have been with them for the past 2 days and they are just adorable. Beautiful, energetic, fluffy balls of lilac (smoky grey) and blue (slate grey) furr. The girl, Sansa, is very affectionate, confident, inquisitive and playful, and the boy Franklin is sweet and gentle but very shy. He loves his sister and follows her around everywhere, it is very sweet to watch.
Provence was delightful – the weather was fine, the food was wonderful, the villa we rented in the small village of Grillon was amazing, the scenery spectacular. I didn’t want to leave. Truly. Once upon a time I dreamed that I would go and live there and being there just made me want it even more. The architecture is intruiging and awe inspiring, some of the buildings there are in better condition that many modern buildings, yet they have been there for hundreds of years and they were built with the hands of man. I just found it all so fascinating. I had the best meal of my life at a little restaurant in Grignan called La Poeme: http://www.lepoemedegrignan.fr/
The restaurant wasn’t a typical choice of mine for it wasn’t glamorous, extravagant or beautiful, it was infact quite plain. And I was beginning to wonder why we had bothered going to it when we arrived as we were not greeted at the door by a maitre’d, indeed it seemed as though there was just one person serving all of the tables in the restaurant (granted it was small), but with her warm, quiet efficiency and then the first course – an aperitif of Olive Ice Cream and freshly baked breads and savoury pastries I was completely won. And I knew this place was something special. Because I knew that I didn’t care how long I had to wait for my food, I didn’t care that it wasn’t a glamorous castle with expensive furniture and fittings, indeed, I didn’t even much care what it was I chose of the menu, because I knew off the strength of the quality of the bread, which couldn’t have been made more perfectly, not the puff pastry more light, that this chef was a chef of dreams: One with the essense of magic aswell as technical skill. I’d never felt so sure before – and I’m not too keen on Bream, but I was sure that he could make me like it, indeed he could make me love it. And he did. But that was after he completely blew both Ian and me away with the starter. It was a simple dish, but then the simple dishes, when they are cooked well, usually are the best: Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart.
I know it sounds boring, but if I were to explain to you how this man complimented the flavours and textures it would blow your mind. I think there was a little fennel in there, and some onion, and some chilli, and something else too, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my head was exploding with sensation as taste buds were teased that had never even been discovered before. It was crazy good.
The dessert was a fruit crème brulee and was just as I’d expect from such a chef god: Bliss.
I wanted to meet this man, indeed I wanted to commend this man for his exceptional talents, but he never emerged from the kitchen of dreams. We were in such a rural part of France, that there were hardly any tourists around and certainly all of the shops and establishments spoke only a little English so I could hardly communicate with him like I wanted to, so instead I said to the waitress, his wife when she asked how I liked the meal:
“C’était Magnifique!” And she understood that well enough indeed she seemed very flattered to have received the compliment, but I meant it, I really did.
I fell in love with a little village called Gordes. Untouched, mysterious, colourful, beautiful, and perched high upon a hilltop with a panoramic view overlooking the valley below with the sweet fragrance of lavender wafting up from the fields.
It was beautiful and serene, sometimes it felt like we were the only ones in the world as most days we only saw a scattering of people, but there was always the comforting sound of birds chirping and trees rustling in the breeze.
We drove up the steep, windy incline of Mont Ventoux, the starting point for the Tour De France, and took in the breathtaking scenery at the summit. It was a surreal experience, it felt like we were on top of the world, in the clouds looking down. An unforgettable experience, and surely Mont Ventoux must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We travelled to Avignon and Orange, where we took in the famous and beautifully well preserved historic buildings: The Theatre Antique & Musee D’Orange and Palais des Papes and the beautiful gardens surrounding.
We went to the emerald green pool Fontaine De Vaucluse, which is the fifth largest spring in the world and visited a wonderful street market in Carpentras. We also wanted to visit Rousillon and The Calanques in Mersaille, but unfortunately ran out of time! Next time we visit Provence we are going to go and stay nearer to Nice so that we can visit Grasse and Eze amongst other places. I realised whilst I was there that no matter where we went in Provence it was spectacularly beautiful. I felt assured that I probably could have picked anywhere to stay and it would have been lovely. I loved the villa we stayed in which was a converted sheep outbuilding. It still had a lot of the original features which gave it not only a lot of charm, but a lot of warmth and character too, with a lovely little mezzanine (which I adored), and a big open plan kitchen with an island (another feature that I love). The huge open fireplace was a great feature of the property along with the stone well used to wash the sheep.
The property had clearly been renovated with a lot of loving care and we absolutely loved staying there. We had a BBQ outside beside our very own private pool and an outside lounge area complete with herbs we could use for cooking or cocktail making. And boy did the sun shine! The sky was as blue a sky as I’ve ever seen!
I’m off to Croatia in a couple of weeks for a house music festival so I’ve only got a few more weeks before I have to leave my adorable furrbabies at home with my boyfriend. They are such a delight to watch that I cannot wait to get home to them each evening.
Lavender Fields of Provence
Fontaine De Vaucluse