One "must" for Erynn while living in Germany was to visit Provence during the lavender bloom. We rented a house in Entrechaux that was amazing, and we used it as a base of operations to explore the region. The area around Entrechaux had many, many lavender fields along with olives and wine grapes.
It was about an 8 hour drive from our home in Germany, and we brought our dear friend Tanja along. We had three full days to explore the area and had a great time. We were there in late June, which was just at the start of the blooming season. The flowers at the higher elevations were in full bloom, but the lower elevation farms were a week or two away from "full purple." We definitely overdosed on good food, relaxation and strong smells during our stay.
For full resolution photos from the trip to Provence click here.
Erynn found an unbelievable house on AirBnB just outside of Entrechaux. The house was almost impossible to find, but once there it was worth it. Even with GPS coordinates (44°13'58.8" N, 005°07'13.6" E) there were roads that weren't roads, and directions were tough. We ended up stopping at a place to ask for directions that happened to be like 500m from the place.
The house had four bedrooms with ample outdoor relaxation areas including a pool. The views were of vineyards and Mont Ventoux. Truly unbelievable and our best house experience so far. Though the broadband was a bit sketchy and did not allow us to watch the World Cup game between the US and Germany. A supreme disappointment to the Americans and German renting the house at the time.
Another view of the house and also Mont Ventoux from the patio.
We did spend a lot of time just hanging out at the house. It was that nice. Plus Greta loved the pool and helping Doug with the BBQ. Every night we went into town for provisions and grilled for dinner. Tons of fun. Greta still asks to go to the house with the pool even months after the trip.
Greta even got to celebrate her 3rd birthday on this vacation. How many people can say that they had their birthday in Provence? I think having Nemo and a pool was present enough for our little one!
On our first day in the area we drove up into the mountains to visit the town of Ferrassieres and the Ho! Boutique de Lavande. Later in the day we went to the town of Sault for lunch before heading back to our house for the afternoon.
Soaking up the wonderful lavender smell!
The small town of Sault was a nice place to stop and get a bite to eat. Plus the valleys around the town afforded some spectacular views.
On our second full day in the area we headed to Nyons. It has an old city center with a couple impressive churches, a Roman Bridge and a lavender distillery and olive oil stores. We had a lovely lunch at Le Crepe au Sud (go there!). The restaurant was in the city center along with the Church of Saint Vincent with its ornate steeple.
After lunch we strolled to the Roman Bridge. The roadway on the bridge was quite narrow and open to traffic. We didn't loiter very long to take the photos.
Some more photos of and from the bridge.
It took us awhile to find La Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours through the winding town streets, but it was worth the climb. The chapel featured a beautiful shaded courtyard. The interior was quite small and there was a steel gate that only allowed you to poke a camera through.
Of course, the objective of the trip to Nyons was some retail therapy. Right on the main parking lot are the Distillerie Bleu Provence (left photo) and the Moulin Dozol (right photo). The distillerie had everything you could imagine made out of lavender including a small museum and demonstration area. The Moulin Dozol had all sort of items made out of olives and other smelly (in a good way) things.
In the middle of nowhere is a cute little shop to buy lavender products, the L'essentiel de lavande. They claim to be in the town of Clansayes. Follow signs, then when you think you couldn't be any further out in the middle of nowhere then drive a few miles more to the end of the road. After turning around a few times you may happen upon the shop. The upshot was that we drove past some of the most beautiful places we've ever seen.
Some of the beautiful sites of which I just spoke...
The left photo is actually the town of Clansaye on the hilltop. I wish the shop were near it.
Driving back from the lavender shop to our next stop, we parked the car next to a wonderful lavender field and we took a ton of photos. Remember to check out the full resolution photos here for all of the fun.
We headed to Grignan for lunch and to check out the palace. The palace didn't open until the afternoon so it was perfect. When we arrived, there was a large literary festival going on. So all of the restaurants were full so we ate take out pizza across from the Hotel de'Ville and the statue of Madame de Sévigné. The festival was actually a celebration of correspondence (writing letters to other people). Apparently Madame de Sévigné had written some gripping letters in the 17th century that are still widely read and celebrated today. She had lived in the town's palace for a spell and written some of her more famous letters while there.
Grignan was a beautiful little town. The medieval streets were narrow with lots of shops and restaurants. It was a bit of a climb to the palace/museum entrance. Greta had discovered the Chupa Chups during the trip, and I don't think she was without one the whole trip.
The palace itself was pretty cool. We did a self guided walking tour of the interior. The exterior was hosting a concert, and I climbed the stairs to grab this photo. Fortunately for me I was the first to have this good idea and a lens capable of such a photo. Unfortunately for others that had the same idea security intervened and stopped them from taking the photo - like the guy in the lower right of the photo.
Some interior shots of the palace. For more photos please check out the full album here.
On the way back to the car we stopped at a delightful ice cream shop. Greta always preferes strawberry. Here is the before and after shot.
We had a really good time on the trip, and it was great to share it with our good friend Tanja. It's rare for us to call a trip a "do-er again-er," but Provence will host the Rathburns again! Next time we'll bring our bikes, and maybe leave the kids at home. Tanja is always invited.
© 2014 Doug Rathburn