Voyage en Vaucluse

We’ve been traveling a lot lately, that and having guests, which kind of go together since our guests have come from other countries just to see our corner of the world. And, atypically for us, a lot of that traveling has been in the Vaucluse, the north-western edge of Provence.

A must for Sunday visitors is a trip to l’Isle sur la Sorgue, which has a huge and astonishingly diverse Sunday market specializing in antiques,

but which also sells clothing,

food, including these rather antique-looking cheeses,

and knick knacks and treasures of every stripe.

You eat well in the Vaucluse, with specialties like calf’s head terrine, and tripe and sheep’s foot stew, although if you have the time and are inclined towards a luxurious lunch

you should go directly to the gorgeous terrace of Le Vivier, where, surrounded by ducks and the gentle plashing of water wheels,

Louise and I dined on cod with lemongrass, calamari, and a vegetable purée,

while Shel had one of the most beautiful dishes ever, a pithiviers of pigeon, each perfectly rare pigeon breast tucked snugly into its pastry nest.

Every dish is gorgeous there, from the cheese plate

to the mignardises, the little treats that come with coffee. I can’t wait to go back there, it’s really a wonderful place.

We walked off our lunch on the breathtaking sentier des ocres, the ochre cliffs of Roussillon, which you can see in more detail here when I wrote about our last trip there,

followed by a visit to the Village des Bories, where we tried to imagine what it must have been like to live on stone, surrounded by stone, without color except the blue sky and the green grass. It’s quite stark, coming from Roussillon, and we wondered whether the people who had lived there so long ago had even known about the splendors of the ochre cliffs that are just a few minutes away, if you have a car, which of course they didn’t.

On another day, with Wolfgang, we went to the town of Sorgues, in and of itself not especially pretty or welcoming, but which is home to the charming little Restaurant Gérard Alonso.

The langoustine welcomed us with open arms,

the veal and asparagus were fresh as Spring,

the cheese trolley was incredibly well-stocked,

and the table was showered with desserts at the end of the meal, this being just the first of three.

We had gone to Sorgues specifically to visit Chateau Gigognan, which sits tranquilly  outside of town

and where we were also welcomed with open arms, this time by Claude Cante, who led us through tasting their exceptional Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  These wines are available in the US, and it’s definitely worth looking for them.

Afterwards, we refreshed ourselves in Fontaines-du-Vaucluse, a jewel of a town, if one could only sweep it clear of tourists. That green in the center of the picture, looking like a perfectly groomed lawn? That’s the river, which flows through the town and is heart-stoppingly beautiful everywhere it goes.

There’s a tiny museum/shop, showing how paper was made in a mill by the river, which must have looked much different in those days of water pollution

shops selling every sort of resistable item (yes, even Shel, who has Coca Cola running in his veins, managed to resist these),

as well as those with more tempting wares.

A ruin presides over it all, here dwarfing Wolfgang and Shel,

and the houses have a sun-drenched beauty that makes you want to move there immediately.

So there’s a little tour through some highlights of the Vaucluse, and tomorrow we’re off for a week in Belgium.  We’re very excited, never having been there. We’ll be renting a vacation house in Bruges, and we plan to travel all over the country during the next week. Allons-y! Next stop, la Belgique.

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11 Comments on “Voyage en Vaucluse”

  1. Debra Lane Says:

    absolutely lovely!

  2. Mikki Says:

    So nice to see you are in your element and loving every minute.

  3. Wendy Says:

    oh I’ve so wanted to get to Belgium, looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  4. Sandra Says:

    We spent a week in Isle sur La Sorgue the end of March and visited many villages and towns in the area, including the spectacular Fontaines-du-Vaucluse. We very much enjoyed the restaurants, markets and water wheels all over the island. We’ll plan on going back to stay there another time, it was that special of a town.

  5. Zuleme Says:

    Yes have been there and loved it. Thanks for all the beautiful photos. Makes me feel like I was there with you.

  6. Nico Says:

    Welcome in BE!

  7. Emily Says:

    Oh! You’ll love Belgium. The food is superb and the towns charming. I “discovered” Bruges in 1961, when it was not on the radar of Americans. It was a lovely intro to the glories of Europe.

  8. Sue Geisler Says:

    I think that you will be enchanted with Bruges. My daughter and I loved the little houses built right against the walkways and the food was incredible. I cannot say enough about the hospitality and good feelings we felt there.

  9. Heidi Husnak Says:

    Magnificent. What a way to start my morning. Your photography is lovely- the light! Thank you.

  10. Carrie Says:

    The cheeses look like they’re to die for!!!

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