Provence – a perfect day:-
After the coast, we drove inland again to to St Remy de Provence, mostly on the toll road.
We did a slight detour on the way to the village of Les Baux, which is another beau village in a spectacular setting of large rocks and cliffs. The word baou is the Provencal word for a prominant elevated rock, or cliff, which aptly describes the landscape, and the Baux family ruled here from the 9th to the 15th century, when the last Baux lord died. The princes of Baux claimed to be the descendents of one of the three Magi, Balthazar. http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/provence-tourism/chateau-baux-provence/history-baux-provence.htm#.UnkRWWt5mSM
The village is also known for giving its name to bauxite, as bauxite was first discovered in this area in 1821. This discovery led to renewed interest in the area and eventually restoration of the town, as it was by then derelict.
The village is no longer a functioning village but it is an extremely popular tourist destination and to avoid the crowds even in the not-so-busy season it pays to arrive early. http://www.beyond.fr/villages/baux.html
We had two nights in St Remy, at the Hotel L’Amandiere. The hotel is quite nice – more like an extra large house, mostly on one level, in the suburbs, with garden all around and very quiet. A few more guests here than we are used to (that is, more than just us) but it turns out that is is a long weekend and Friday 1 November is yet another holiday in France. Which also explained why Les Baux was busy, and all the shops were shut.
Although restaurants were open, finding food turned out to be a challenge. Got to town at 5.45 to find nowhere served food until 6 pm, which in fact turned out to be 6.30 when we tried again at 6. We couldn’t be bothered waiting so in the end bought some apple tarts from a patisserie and a pizza from a pizza van, and had them back at our hotel with a glass of red.
Next day we visited Avignon and walked around the old town and the Palais des Papes and Rocher des Dom area, and viewed the famous St Saint-Bénezet bridge. Not too crowded and a lovely day. The Rocher des Dom is a beautiful park and oasis in the city centre. Avignon is a beautiful city with wide tree-lined streets and of course the river running through the middle.
After a picnic lunch by the river near the carpark it was off to Gordes, yet another significant beau village, and on to Murs, near our next hotel.
The hotel, Mars du Loriat, is a few km on from Murs, and is exactly as one imagines a country hotel in Provence. A large house surrounded by trees and olive groves, a spacious room beautifully decorated and our own private veranda overlooking the trees and valley beyond to a range of hills. Had dinner outside on our veranda watching the sun set and the stars come out and listening to the birds.
Next day after a leisurely breakfast we drove back to Murs for a look around. Almost deserted. A pretty little village with an impressive chateau at the top which was well preserved but in private hands and not open to the public at all. Then went to the next small village of Jourcou, where we bought some red cheese. We could not resist having lunch at Les Terraces, a small restaurant with outside tables overlooking a vineyard and the hills in the distance. Not gourmet food but quite acceptable, and what better way to spend an hour two than sitting in the sun enjoying lunch and a glass of rose. Even better, there was a lovely roar and a bright red 1933 MG sports car came around the corner and parked over the road. Much interest from all the men in the village and at the restaurant. Beautiful little car.
Spent what remained of the day and the evening once more relaxing on our veranda and enjoying the peace and quiet. A perfect day in Provence.