Arrival: Pernes les Fontaines and Gordes
Our base for our first week in France was an apartment in Pernes les Fontaines, the “Town of Forty Fountains,” about 30 minutes southeast from Avignon. Since our first booking was with Untours, our second day we attended a brief orientation meeting in nearby L’Isle sur la Sorgue. We recommend Untours for occasional travelers like us who don’t want to be part of a tour, but do appreciate the support structure Untours provides, with local reference materials, being met at the airport, and having a local resource person available for advice. Their approach gives you a leg up on your new surroundings that makes arrival in a strange place relatively seamless.
In the afternoon we took the opportunity to drive into the Luberon, where we visited the old and somewhat strange Village des Bories, a cluster of very primitive stone stuctures, parts of which date back as far as the 7th century, with other elements as recent as the 18th century. If you click through the photos on the linked site, you can see that the building technique involved building walls that came toward each other at the top, until neither a “roof” nor an arch was necessary. Doorways were formed by resting a long enough stone across the two jambs.
From there it was a short drive to the hilltop town of Gordes, reminiscent of many of the hilltop towns of Tuscany.
See slide show for more. (to read the captions you will probably need to extend the slide display time).
France trip October ’11 Part I: “Third Exit at the Roundabout”
Well, here we are in France, and so far our lodgings have been comfy, the scenery delightful, the wine ubiquitous and for the most part very good. Vineyards are everywhere. So are traffic circles, which replace all major and most minor intersections. We have a GPS that can’t tell the difference between a major road and a cowpath (hence our title, above). And access to wifi (“wee-fee”) has been intermittent, with few opportunities to post here for you.
We are continually thankful for Ryan’s great French class the last couple of months at the wine shop; it has been invaluable in meeting the everyday conversational challenges that continually arise. Bien fait, Monsieur! We hope you are all joining him at the wine shop Fridays and Saturdays while we are gone!
As I write this we are finishing three days at a sort of B&B near Sommieres that is a restored old stone farmhouse and outbuildings surrounded by beautiful fields of garrigue. (see link; the photo above is the vineyard at the Bertrand Stehelin winery in Gigondas, where we had a wonderful tour and degustation of his delightful wines.)
The last couple of days we have toured and tasted wine in a small region called Pic St. Loup, for which I have long had a particular fondness…and it turns out to be beautiful in many ways as well—we could easily spend a week or two right here, but alas, tomorrow we are off for a week in Lagrasse, visiting the wine regions of Corbieres, Minervois, and St. Chinian, all in the Languedoc region.
Stay tuned, mes amis!