31 July 2023


L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a town with a population of about 20,000. It's less than 20 miles east of Avignon and is just a 15 minute drive from our September 2001 gîte in Cavaillon. At L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the Sorgue river, which is 20 miles long, splits into numerous forks and canals. Those water courses served as defensive features and also carried commercial traffic and powered mills early on. The town is known for its many antique shops. When the weather is fine it's a picturesque place to have a drink or a meal outdoors at a sidewalk café.

I haven't talked about the weather here in Saint-Aignan for a week or two now. Why? Because it hasn't been very extraordinary, and I'm glad about that. While southern Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain, and even France's Mediterranean coast) has been experiencing intense heat waves, our high temperatures here in the Loire Valley region have been mild and our low temperatures have been on the chilly side. I'm wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved corduroy shirt on my morning walks with the dog and my morning supermarket shopping. Last week we had more than an inch of steady, modeerate rain, which we really needed.

I've been noticing a lot of people wearing shorts and t-shirts at SuperU, which is very close to the Beauval zoo. I'm assuming that they are tourists from other parts of the country and other countries who didn't think the weather would be chilly here at this time of year. But almost every summer we have a spell of cool weather like this, with the exception of the summers of 2021 and 2022, which were extremely hot and dry. In all of July, which ends today, we've had only 5 or 6 days with temperatures close to or slightly above above 90º F.

30 July 2023

Maussane-les-Alpilles bis

Here are a few more photos that I took in Maussane on the September day in 2001. Again, I took them with a Kodak digital camera that, I see now, took very good pictures.

This is the Café du Centre, on the village square across from the fountain you saw in yesterday's post. I don't remember if we sat down and ate or drank anything. I think we didn't. We just walked around to soak up the atmosphere, and took pictures.

This sign on the front of the café made me laugh. I think whoever wrote the text overdid it with the S's. However, I looked it up in Wiktionnaire (French Wictionary) and it says des petits-déjeuners is the correct plural for petit-déjeuner (breakfast), despite the hyphen. The Robert dictionary says so too. Maybe CHM will have a comment on this point. Actually, I just consulted another dictionary (CNRTL) and I see it gives petit déjeuner without a hyphen. You might think sandwichs without an E is funny, but it makes sense in French because the singular and plural of sandwich are pronounced exactly the same — two syllables, not three. I don't know what to say about hots dogs. The Petit Robert dictionary gives hot-dog and says the plural is des hot-dogs.

I also enjoyed seeing this Casino supérette on the square. It reminded me of little grocery stores that you see sprinkled all around Paris. From what I see on the internet, the Casino chain of superettes and supermarkets still exists, but the store in Maussane doesn't seem to be there any more. I don't see it on Google Maps street view either.

The produce displayed in bins out on the sidewalk looked very fresh and was appetizing. Not to mention colorful.

There was also quite a large selection of wines and apéritif drinks inside the store.

To conclude, I see that there are two other little grocery stores in Maussane these days, so people who live in the town can walk to the store to do their shopping. There is also an Intermarché supermarket in the next town over, Fontvieille, which is a 10 minute drive away.

29 July 2023


Maussane-les-Alpilles is a little town just south of Les Baux, which you probably know about or have visited. I had been to Les Baux a few times but had never been to Maussane. At the time I knew ("virtually", meaning on the internet) a woman and her husband who had bought a house there and renovated it. She said it was a beautiful area, and I wanted to see it. By car it's just 30 minutes south of Cavaillon, where our Sept. 2001gîte was. It's also 30 minutes from Avignon, and an hour southwest of Gordes.

Maussane turned out to be a pretty little town, with a big town square and a fountain. It was lively and pleasant the day we were there.

Notice the prices on the chalkboard menu of a restaurant on Maussane's town square. They might look pretty steep, but they are not in euros but French francs. The euro hadn't yet become the French national currency. A U.S. dollar was worth about 7 francs at the time, so you could enjoy that filet de taureau (filet of bull) with purée de potiron (pumpkin purée) on the menu for about twelve dollars.

28 July 2023

Sault, Ventoux, et les gorges de la Nesque

A 30 or 40 minute drive north from either Gordes or Roussillon is a village called Sault. The village, pop. 1356, is just east of the Mont Ventoux, which rises to an elevation of 1,910 meters (6,266.40 ft.) — about the same height as the tallest mountain in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. On the way there one day in Sept. 2001 we drove through the gorges de la Nesque, where the views are spectacular.

Sault, pronounced [soh] is in an area where a lot of lavender is grown and a lot of honey is made.

On the left, that's the Mont Ventoux in the background. That's not snow at the summit, but limestone rock and stones. It does snow up there in winter, but from a distance the mountain looks snow-covered all year.

There's Walt on the right taking pictures of the gorgeous views out over the gorge. The short tunnels carved into the rock are impressive.

27 July 2023

Roussillon, un village « ocrement » beau

Roussillon (pop. 1,290) is a picturesque Luberon (Provence) village because the soil and rock it is built in contains a lot of ocher (ocre in French). Ochre is what we call red clay in English, I think. many of the houses in Roussillon are finished with a render (un enduit) that is reddish brown or yellow.

Here's a link to a short video about the village. It's really beautiful on fine sunny days, which are the rule rather than the exception in Provence.

The only village in the area that gets more tourists than Roussillon is Gordes. I've been there in June as well as in September, and it was not overly crowded either time. Roussillon is only 10 miles from Lourmarin, just five from Bonnieux, and only four from Gordes.

The surrounding countryside looks like this. Click here for more photos.

26 July 2023

Lourmarin et au-delà

The picture above shows a Citroën 2CV parked in the village of Lourmarin (pop. 1,000), which is just north of Lauris.

The picture on the left just above shows a café in the center of Lourmarin. We sat down there on Sept. 11, 2001, and had a coffee and a pastry. It was very pleasant. The photo above right is a view of Lourmarin taken from outside the village.

The two photos above are places 10 and 20 miles north of Lourmarin. On the left is another shot of the village perché called Gordes. On the right is the main place (square) in the village of Venasque.

Between Bonnieux and Lourmarin to the south and Gordes to the north, there's a Roman bridge called the pont Julien. They say it was built a few years before the birth of Jesus.

25 July 2023

Oppède -le-Vieux bis

When we went to Provence in 2001, we climbed up a steep cobblestone path to see the church in Oppède-le-Vieux. We also had a look around in the cemetery. These are some photos I took back then.

On the right above is the 13th century church at Oppède. On the right below, you can see the church on the upper left and the ruins of the château to the right of it.

You can also see the church and château in Oppède on this photo that I posted a few days ago.

24 July 2023

À Lauris : fenêtres et portes

Lauris is a village with a population of 3900 that is located on the south-facing flank of the Luberon. It is on the right bank of the Durance river. Walt and I first went there in 1993. Walt took pictures of some of the windows, doors and shutters you see below. I wasn't taking photos back in the pre-digital days.

In 2001, when we went back to spend another two weeks in Provence, we returned to Lauris to see if these doors, windows, and shutters had changed. They hadn't.

All of these are pictures that I took in September 2001 with a Kodak digital camera.

One strange thing: Lauris is not mentioned at all the Michelin green guide for Provence that I have, the 1987 edition.

23 July 2023


Views of and from the village of Oppède-le-Vieux, just west of Ménerbes. From the "perched villages" I've been posting about, there are great panoramas of the Luberon and out to the plateau de Vaucluse.