May 15, 2019
We had a quiet morning at home without having made any plans for the day. After a coffee and a couple cups of tea, we decided to drive around to a few of the surrounding villages. We generally planned to head west and then loop south to east and back to Venasque. First stop is the village of St. Didier. We thought we’d have lunch there, as we got such a late start. We ended up parking a ways out of the center and walking back. There were lots of gardens to enjoy on the way.
This large property was posted with contractor permits. The little winter greenhouse in this photo is for the potted lemon and orange trees to winter over. I had read about these structures in a book, but had never seen one before.
This overblown garden is lovely with the house set back from the street.
The little bar/cafe we found had a fixed three course lunch menu. I don’t think I can walk enough everyday to offset the quantities of food that are offered for lunch and dinner. I had the Salad de la Mer, Espadon marine and Tarte Fraise/Rhubarbe (seafood salad, swordfish and strawberry/rhubarb tart). It was all delicious for 14 euros. Suzanne had them make her a vegetarian salad and she had the tart also.
We did a little walking around after lunch. Provence is big cycling country and there were several groups stopping in St. Didier for lunch, like the group at the table in front of our little cafe.
A short way down the street we found this charming flower shop. There was an older man across the street that wanted us to come over and view the shop from there. Somehow we managed to have a little conversation with him, with a lot of sign language involved. He pointed us in a good direction for our walk.
This gateway is the entrance to the Thezan Chateau, built in the 1500’s and expanded in the 1800’s. It is currently in use as a private clinic.
This photo is of mosaics in a little courtyard we pasted by.
We noticed a couple of these fountains with large stone pools behind them. These are the wash houses that were used by the local inhabitants for laundry.
We found this floral display in a little plaza. We thought the gardening culprit might be the person with the balcony.
Back in the car to look at the map and decide which village is next on our journey. After a bit of discussion we took off for Pernes-les-Fontaines.
This village takes it’s name from the 40 fountains that can be found throughout. Once we found a parking place, it was off to look at the museum of the French Resistance. The museum was all in French, but was interesting nonetheless.
These are the famous women of the French Resistance. Josephine Baker (lower right), singer, actress and dancer was an American expatriate and naturalized French citizen. She was awarded the French military’s Croix de guerre and was named a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. The legend is that star struck Nazi guards let Baker travel freely throughout France and Europe. Baker used this freedom to act as an informant and to carry messages in invisible ink on her sheet music for the Resistance. Charles de Gaulle generally downplayed the contributions of women to the Resistance and only 6 women were awarded metals for their bravery.
After the museum we climbed up to a scenic viewpoint on the Ferrande Tower from the 13th century.
Back to the car and on to Gordes. Gordes is the village of choice for wealthy Parisians, as it was for wealthy Romans. The hill top town is stunning as depicted in the featured photo. Our GPS, Babette had recalculated so many times and taken us on so many tiny country roads, backtracks and blocked thoroughfares, that we basically missed the entrance to the village and we waved at Gordes as we went by. We weren’t really in the mood for super expensive shops and restaurants anyway.
On to the village of Murs another tiny hilltop village. This windmill greeted us on our drive up the winding road.
We got to the top of the village, which is situated in Luberon Regional Nature Park. It is set among surrounding vineyards and cherry orchards. The village is dominated by a chateau from the 15th century that is privately owned and occupied by several generations of the same family. It is not open to the public.
Next to the chateau or castle is a Romanesque church with this impressive square clock/bell tower.
Onward towards home in Venasque. We passed by these interesting structures as we moved onto a beautiful mountain road that crosses the Plateau de Vaucluse. Then it was downhill through a steep rocky gorge with towering rock walls with caves and fantastic formations.
You can see the cut in the mountains that we drove through.
Au Revoir! Big day tomorrow….