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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Slow lazy days

So we decided to wind down a fair bit and spend our last few days in Apt just chilling ing 

Yesterday we did our Laundry, yep boring but it has to be done ....... Lol
A little shopping in the local shops, and had lunch in the loveliest little restaurant we found in the back streets.


We were a little late for lunch but there was only us and one other group.  We had a gorgeous lunch of soft cheese with herbs, braised veal with vegetables ( kind of ratatouille style and Strawberry and peppermint soup for dessert. It was amazing and our waitress tried so hard to talk to us in English .

Today was market day in Apt. We had read that the market day in Apt was pretty good but we never expecting that each time we looked down a street there would be more stalls , this market was huge.....


As we sipped our coffee we were serenaded


Saucisson , like salamis but ohhh wow so many different flavours and types and sizes just amazing.


Flowers fresh and in pots.


Fruit and vegetables everywhere some organic, some not


House bread, made roughly and so very fresh and crunchy in so many different varieties.

As we have travelled along I ve managed to get a little craft done. I created one whole Lucy Boston block on the plane from Australia to Singapore and whilst we were waiting at Singapore airport for our flight to Paris.


This is my Paris block, the photo was taken on the ledge of my tiny Paris apartment window.
 This one has some special memories, the centre was stitched on the steps of the opera Garnier , Paris and the blue stripe blocks were stitched whilst I sat near the octagonal pond in the Tuileries garden.  I was stitching away and decided to take a picture to send to sandy when a gust of wind blew my block into the pond, fortunately it was close and I managed to fish it out. I had to re glue some papers but it was all good, thank goodness.


This block was mainly sewn on the bus to Giverny and will be my French / Italian block as it will probably be finished in Italy.


And these are gadgets socks, my first go at knitting socks two at a time on circular needles, from the toes up and to add to the challenge they have a cable design..... 
I m really enjoying working on them.

We leave Apt tomorrow and head to Marseille for the night then fly to Venice, via Brussels Sunday morning.

Au Revoir

Googy  Girl 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lourmarin, Bonnieux and Lacoste

We are continuing to have a wonderful time exploring the Luberon, travelling the narrow roads that wind past field of grapes, lavender and other wonderful crops. Several times we have passed fields filled with wild red poppies, unfortunately there has never been the opportunity to stop for a photo.  But I live in hope.


This is the view of Apt, where we are staying as the sun goes down. It's a reasonable size town with plenty of restaurants and supermarkets. Yesterday we visited Super U which was a bit like the old super Kmart, it had the variety and supermarket all in one. I scored a new silicone Madeliene tray . . . 

Lourmarin 

On Tuesday we drove over the mountain range again to the lovely little town of Lourmarin. We arrived a little early so decided we would wander a little through the narrow little streets,some of  these streets are purely pedestrian, or at most they would have a scooter or motor bike,  and on each turn are a joy, I could snap so many photos of the cute little gardens in the corner or the lovely shutters, doors or curtains in the Windows they just make such great use of the available space.  Gadget always get a little worried that we will get lost wandering the back streets but somehow we never really do.... I think I would enjoy staying in one of these villages for a week or so and just wandering with my camera in hand.


The narrow streets of Lourmarin


This is the chateau of Lourmarin, parts of it were built during the medieval period other parts during the Renaissance, it had a gorgeous staircase and several very charming rooms. It is used throughout the year as a retreat for artists.  It was open to the public and had some very lovely decorated rooms.

Bonniuex


Bonniuex is the sweetest little honey coloured village which just seems to tumble down the edge of the hill a bit like Gordes. As we were driving in I was frantically looking for a place we could pull over for a photo but there really wasn't anywhere safe.  We headed here for many reasons, but I was really hoping to go to the bakery museum, sadly it was closed.  We wandered the streets a little and ended up at a little cafe for lunch.  Unfortunately being the total ditz that I am , I left my reading glasses at the cafe, we returned for them but the owner , whom didn't understand English very well, looked and couldn't find them.  Fortunately the owner of our apartment made a phone call and Viola I have my glasses back, plus a spare pair cheap ones from a local optometrist.

I just love these streets... 

From Lourmarin, you can see the village of Lacoste perched on the side of the hill across the valley.

Lacoste



Lacoste was a quiet little town, that was not very touristy at all, which is nice. I made gadget tag along up the steep narrow streets until we reached the top where the castle stands. The castle which is owned by Pierre Cardin, sadly is in a state of semi disrepair after being almost totally destroyed during the French Revolution and wasn't open to the public, however the view was spectacular . . . And the streets on the way up were very cute.


I think this justifies the climb.  You can just make out Bonniuex on the right hand side of the image.

Pont Julien 


This gorgeous little bridge was built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD and was named after the family of Julius Cesar and was part of the Via Domitia the road used to travel from the south of Gaul ( France) to northern Italy and into Rome.  Up until about 2002 this bridge was still used for traffic, however it is quite narrow and a new bridge now stands nearby which allows traffic to flow both ways. The narrow openings you can see are to allow water to pass through in times of flood, the Romans really thought of everything.  This is the cutest little bridge and is still used for cyclists and pedestrians. We weren't even looking for this we just were driving past and there it was.

Au Revoir

Googy Girl

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fontaine de Vaucluse, Gordes and Rousillon

The plan for the south of France was to slow down and just enjoy the experience.  So despite having an extensive list of things to see, some of which involved driving one or two hours to see,  we have decided we just want to amble slowly and take it in . . . . 
this post actually covers two days.
We discovered that Monday is a quiet day in Provence with many shops not opening, well everyday shops anyway, souvenir shops always seem to be open . . . . Lol

We used Monday to explore Apt ( where we are staying) and take a drive to one of the lovely little villages. The Luberon ( an area in Provence) is known for its lovely villages. Each similar but unique in its own way. 

Fontaine de Vaucluse 




This lovely village is centred around a river.  As you walk along the banks of the river you reach a point where there are rocks but no longer any water and eventually an immense cliff face, for a very long time people were perplexed as to the source of the water.  They now know that the source off water comes from an immense underground network of waters that are the  result of rainfall and melted snow from one of the local mountains and this network network of water only reaches the surface at Fontaine de Vaucluse. The water is crystal clear, the green you can see in the image is the plant life under the water.  This looks like a quiet flow of water, but just 3 meters higher there are Rapids and a slalom kayaking course, which looked very challenging.  We had a lovely lunch here and enjoyed looking through some lovely little shops.

Today we headed to 

Gordes 


Gordes was on my bucket list, mainly because one of my favourite films was filmed here. "A good 
year " starring Russel Crowe, based on a book written by Peter Mayle. But also obviously it's pretty 
picturesque and I do like a good phot opportunity.  
We arrived at Gordes in time for their local markets, the markets were really interesting and had all sorts of homewares, clothes and food available.  


We went for a little wander around the winding steep narrow little streets, and found some lovely spots to take some gorgeous photos.  The above street was really very steep and was used by vehicles as well. I m not sure I would want to drive anything much bigger than a mini around these streets. The houses were just  charming.


I loved this window isn't she just gorgeous. 

Abbaye de Sénaque


Abbaye de Sénaque is an active Cistercian abbey with monks in residence. This beautiful abbey welcomes visitors, however guided tours are only available in French.  The rows in front of the abbey ( in the image) are lavender and in mid June are a perfusion of purple, if you google the Abbaye you are sure to see images, despite the lack of lavender flowers it was a very picturesque site and very very peaceful. We did a little shopping here and picked up a lovely lavender flavoured honey and spice cake. Oh this holiday is not good for my waist line.


Roussillon 


This stunning village perched on top of a hill is in the midst of the largest Ochre deposit in the world.
Roussillon is famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries.

The red, yellow and brown shades of the village and the surrounding land form a striking contrast with the lush green surrounding landscape made Roussillon for me , Magical. Gadget and I had a lovely time wandering through the lovely shops and narrow streets, we had our first true Provençal inspired meal in a lovely restaurant and returned to the car we a few too many bags in our hands.




The Ochre cliffs 
that are used to derive ochre which is used to colour the mortar for local housing and as pigments for art.
Just a gorgeous village that we both really enjoyed.



This gentleman was selling typical Provençal food at the market at Gordes. Gadget always intrigued by different food purchased some ( cold) to bring back for our dinner this evening.





And Viola 
a Provençal meal is served, it was absolutely amazing and was accompanied by a bottle of Rose wine which was produced on the estate of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. 

I m liking this Provençal life

Au Revoir

Googy Girl

Monaco, Eze and Nice

On Sunday we headed off to Monarco, Eze and Nice as a tour, with a guide.
This was one of the last minute tours we organised and at 6:30 am on Sunday it was freezing as the "mistral" blew I was wondering what on earth we were thinking


Our apartment was warm and snug

Anyway we jumped in our hire car and headed over the Luberon mountains to Aix en Provence where we were meeting our tour.
We arrived with time to spare, Gadget is always early, as we waited outside the Apple shop for our bus the wind was howling and it was could enough to freeze . . . . Well it was pretty darn cold.
Anyway we found a very cute little brasserie, and after a hot chocolate and a croissant we were both feeling a lot warmer.
We got the tour bus to our selves and we headed off for the two hour drive to Monaco, with the aim to arrive in time for the changing of the guard.  Our driver / guide told us all about the area as we drove along, but we worked out pretty quickly whilst he could speak English, but he really didn't understand a lot, however we were fortunate to have a second tour guide who was learning about that tour and he had lived in Australia, so all was good.

Monaco


The changing of the guard outside Monarco's royal palace. It was pretty interesting. I just loved the bells from their bell tower that toll every 15 minutes.


Just a few toys moored in the harbour, gadget and I thought we could probably afford two or three . . . 


Monte Carlo casino, I took this photo from the wrong angle, all the other boys toys were on the other side of the road.  A few Porsches, Lamborghini s and Mercedes.
After we left Monte Carlo we visited the quant little village  of Eze, it really is just tiny little dwellings built onto the side of a rock, lots of super cute little shops and restaurants. With absolutely amazing views.

Back on the mini bus and we set off for 

Nice


Nice was huge, there was building' s as far as we could see and so many people.
The water was the most beautiful shades of blue and as it was Sunday Everyone was out strolling on the Promenade, and sunbaking on the beach.


Now call me spoilt, but I can't imagine it is really comfortable sunbaking on pebbles, but the locals here were snoozing away quite happily.  It was nice to walk along the shore without taking my shoes off though.  At one point we seen there were sun lounges for hire, just a mere 10€ ($15 au) an hour. There were a few occupied, if you snoozed there you would need to set an alarm . . . .otherwise it 
could get a little expensive.
The French Riviera was stunning, however after only just over an hour strolling along the promenade and into a few back streets to look at some shops we had to get back on the road.
We returned to Aix en Provence at about 7pm, thank goodness it doesn't get dark here until about 9pm because we had to drive back across the mountains to get home. When we returned to the car , which was parked underground our GPS decided it was time to add some excitement to our day and she wouldn't locate the satellites, so here we are in a totally strange town, no internet for google maps , no real maps . . . The stress levels were a little high. Fortunately after about 20 mins the GPS got her act together and we were right to go, but lesson learned . . . One of us needs to have access to google maps.
So as soon as we get to a bigger town again, we will get one organised for Italy.
Anyway enough for one post.

Au Revoir

Googy Girl

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Saturday markets and the Pont du Gard

On Saturday we had to travel to Apt to our apartment for the next week.  We couldn't check in unto late so decided to visit a local market before we left Carcassonne.
This one was held in the town square, in the middle of the newer section of Carcassonne.


Mainly fruit and vegetables, but also fish, bakery items and flowers.


This guy was a very happy cheese seller, he sang the whole time he was serving people.


Strawberries are definitely in season here, and they are really really good, very sweet with no bitterness.  We have shared a punnet or two. 


Lots of beautiful flowers

After the market we headed off again, with the plan of seeing 

the Pont du Gard 

This structure is really cool, it was built almost 2000 years ago. The Pont du Gard was part of a 50km long aqueduct, built to carry water from the city of Uzes to Nimes.  The majority of it stands held together by friction without any mortar to hold it together. The only section where mortar was used was the very top, where the water was carried and that was to prevent the water from leaking out. It was apparently used for almost 100 years however the water source was high in calcium and calcium deposits continuously built up along the aqueduct , which was mainly underground, also plant matter grew into the duct as well, contaminating the water.



Fortunately for the Pont du Gard , not long after it ceased being useful for water, it was altered so that it could become a bridge, a toll bridge so it payed for its own maintenance.  It is now listed as a world heritage monument by UNESCO.
More to come

Au Revoir

Googy Girl