Monday, June 02, 2014

Hill Towns

As we drive out on the country roads leading to hill towns of this area, I spot several fields of lavender.  This is what I am hoping to see but thinking perhaps we are too far west and that the lavender won't be in bloom until July.  The undulating rows form such wonderful geometric shapes, and the young flower buds are purplish gray and seemingly soft like velvet in the distance.  I think we have created a tourist stop as after I am there for a few minutes, we soon have a crowd of 6 cars, Australian, Japanese and Chinese tourists standing in the field taking pictures! The iphone doesn't do it justice so you will have to wait for real photos to be posted to get the real effect. Ray patiently waits while I shoot from all angles. 

It is cherry season here,and we stop at a roadside stand. The cherries are firm and sweet. They last us the rest of the day.

Onward to Gordes, which is so packed with tourists that there is nowhere to park and we move on. The hill towns are similar to those in Italy, but sit higher on cliffs and have high walls at the top surrounding forts, churches or castles. They dot the countryside and at night from the top of the town walls, you can see small clusters of lights  in all directions. In Italy though, there is more of a sense of small town residents having been there for generations, small local eateries, simple and real life.  Here the towns are tourist meccas, flowing in during the day and leaving by afternoon. The restaurants are there to serve tourists. We are not sure where the local families are, or if they even live there as we don't see children.  Perhaps everyone hides out inside shuttered windows?  Or maybe they live in towns we don't see because there is no reason for tourists to go there?  

Fontaine, our next stop, is the source of a clear spring and the one street town of small gift shacks and cafes is built on the edge of the small river. There do not seem to be residents living here. We hike up to a deep pool hidden below the vast limestone gorge and look up to see a few karsts much like in China. The water is crystal clear and  the shallow river bottom has bright green seaweed and rocks, so clear and bright, it almost looks like the bottom of a Disneyland pool!  

Our way back takes us through Isle de la Sorgue, surprising to us, it is a commercial center with big supermarkets and discount stores. Perhaps this is where locals live? II notice that cars are bigger, people live in subdivisions and people coming out of the big grocery stores are not the slender French we have been seeing in places like Sarlat and Amboise.  No local patisseries here, or small charcuteries, or local fresh food market days. Could there be some correlation between a diet of local food vs processed food, and of local people who walk everywhere vs modern cities where people travel in cars?  hmmmm

At night we find a tripadvisor recommended restaurant Le Piquebaure and enter an empty restaurant. I think lunch time is the busy time for restaurants.  I have whitefish; Ray's duck breast is divine; no Provencal dishes on any of the restaurant menus  in town unfortunately, perhaps we need to be in Avignon or Aix en Provence, or maybe at a local place in a modern city like Isle de la Sorgue? We walk up to the top of the city and do a last walk before our departure tomorrow. 

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