e have been going to southern France regularly for the past 10 years and I never get tired of it. The laid back atmosphere, the rustic homes and the wine. It brings me back to the bliss I imagined the first time I read Peter Mayle‘s A year in Provence. I am sure I would still be living in Bloomington, Minnesota had not my wonderful friend Rachelle recommended this book to me.
The story transported me from my rather hum-drum Midwest life, to a (albeit imagined) pleasurable life smelling of lavender in the heart of the Luberon. Life is not yet perfect because I do not have a Mas in Provence but I have never been closer, as hubby likes to say.
Part of the reason we agreed to being stationed in Germany is the time we can save driving to all the places we love, not to mention places we haven’t discovered yet. 13 hours to Venice, 10 hours to Vienna, 7 hours to London or Paris, and finally Lake Garda or Provence 12 hours flat! Hubby likes to drive and well, I don’t really mind riding along. Since I retired as navigator and the GPS took over we hardly every argue in the car and with an iPod full of podcasts and audiobooks the hours fly by.
We have found our own tempo in Provence which includes a bit of light shopping before a lazy three course lunch and then the big debate about what’s for dinner. Wine shopping is a big part of the trip as well as soap acquisitions.
Savon de Marseille, Durance, or L’Occitane and fabric. I have found some of the most beautiful linen fabric I have ever seen at markets in Provence and printed cotton from Souleiado improves with every wash! So this past weekend we dusted off our lofty plans of driving to our favorite winery and sat ourselves in the car for the trip south.
After a bit of desperate searching I found what felt like the last available room in Provence at Hôtel Le siècle in Mazan. We have driven through Mazan many times on the way to our favorite swimming hole but never stopped in the town. The hotel had a two star rating which made me skeptical. We have stayed at 4 star hotels in England with bad plumbing and peeling wallpaper but after seeing the hotel I think England and France have VERY different rating systems.
We arrived Friday before dinner and couldn’t have been more pleased. The hotel is in a 16 th century residence which has been respectfully renovated, tastefully decorated, equipped with air conditioning and wi-fi. There was a flea market in town (yeah) and we had time to get situated and cooled off before sauntering into the village. The latest issue of Marie Claire Idees, a glass of Rosé and prime spot at the outdoor café made for a wonderful start of our evening.
After relaxing a bit we wandered through the flea market, I found some wonderful depression glass candlestick on sale by a local and really I could have found a lot more but I keep getting the question “Do you need that?”, “What are you going to do with that?” none of which I could answer in any reasonable way.
References:We spent Saturday buying wine, eating lunch, buying fabric, trying to keep cool and finally eating dinner. We were really busy. I love how Provence can make a day seem like a week. We were so relaxed after our day that we felt we had enjoyed a proper vacation.
Sunday morning we were the first visitors at the market in L’ Isle sur la Sorgue and picked up my much coveted soap and we were on our way home. Thank goodness for air conditioning since the temp topped 36 degrees Celsius before we got home. We were home in time to see the World Cup final and that’s not bad for just a weekend!