Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Ah, Monday! Now it's a real vacation, not a weekend that just anybody can have off. Now we're talking.

Another gorgeous afternoon tooling around the countryside. Today's excellent hilltop village is Gordes. On the way here we passed the signs for Apt, where I was instructed to go and taste the angelique confit (a sort of flower, preserved in sugar). But it's an extra half hour to get there, and perhaps they have angelique confit around here. I check around the tourist shops, which do indeed have an impressive collection of unusual and expensive things in sugar, but no angelique.

Gordes is one of those wonderful little villages, all piled up on itself on a point, nice defensive ground, view all around, flowers in the windowboxes, streets too narrow for cars. Time to peruse the ceramics shops and sit at a café on the central square for a cool, bubbly beverage. Perrier with mint syrup, please.

From there we go to Roussillon. For JP, this preserved jewel of a medieval village piled up on its crag is quite different from Gordes just a few minutes away. There, the stone is yellow-white-ochre, cut in narrow slabs. Here the stone is covered with a thick layer of plaster, in deeper colors, lots of reds. For me, these villages and the others all around are more similar to each other than different. The way they cut the stone - here narrow slabs, there small blocks, farther on large blocks - and the colors of that stone - from white through yellow to red - covered or not with plaster, is a detail. I tend to notice the larger caracteristics, the organisation around a central square with a shaded well and a church and a cluster of cafés, the narrow streets, the colorful wooden shutters and flowers on every façade.

Back toward Gordes and beyond it we stop at the Senanque Abbey. It's just closed for the day. Vespers was called on the bells just as we parked, and the monks and their visitors staying in retreat are all in the chapel, chanting the liturgy. They have quite an impressive kitchen garden out back, and a soft field of lavender just about to bloom out front.

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