Monday, 18 June 2007

Let's hit the road!

The best way to explore a new place is on foot…not exactly your idea of traveling in style but that’s how we like it.

We stepped out of the Metro in Paris city with a heavy load on our backs and the sun in our eyes. The Sunday flea market along Port Royal Boulevard was still thronging with people in the late afternoon. After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we joined the crowd in the revelry. A leisurely stroll, followed by Turkish dinner and we were ready to hit the sack.

Traveling to Provence took us all of Monday, on a train journey that afforded continuous views of the countryside. Only when we finally trudged into the beautiful Hotel Bastide de Gordes nestled in Luberon, ranked amongst “The Most Beautiful Villages in France”, we knew our vacation had truly begun.

The next three days were long days of cycling with some steep hills to climb but wonderful views to compensate. Strong winds, hot days and dramatic descents along winding mountain roads made some routes very challenging but it was worth every turn of the pedals. It was really sensational cycling. Here, nature is predominantly Mediterrranean. We traversed through vineyards, orchards with silver green olive trees, pine forests, quarries, gentle hills and mountain ranges, magnificent ravines and valleys, forts and unmade roads.

Traveling on a bike allowed us to stray from the main squares, discover cobbled alleyways and little passageways where the tourists fear to tread.

We stopped by farmers’ markets displaying abundant, tempting choice vegetables, fruits and local products, aromatic herbs and lavender to pick up lunch of freshly roasted chicken, baguette, olives, cheese, sausage, wine and fruits. We had picnic under the trees, sometimes catching a nap before moving on. Cherries were growing in abundance, we could reach up and pick some to quench our thirst.

After a long day of cycling, we treated ourselves to dinner at gourmet restaurants, sampling specialties from the Provencal menu. We sampled foie gras, escargots, bouillabaisse, frog legs, fresh trout, smoked salmon and haddock, duck, veal and lamb, cheese, crepes and French wine all week.

Our little French translation book came in really handy though the French we met were warm and friendly, greeting us “Bon jour’ everywhere we went. The fellow travelers we met along the way were too happy to share their wonderful experiences in the beautiful region.

Needless to say, our spirits were revived in the warm and lively atmosphere of Provence, where the lilting accent enchants the ear. We returned home with toned muscles and a golden tan, and wonderful memories that we will never forget.

Taking a break beneath the shady Plane trees at L'etang in Cucuron.
We stumbled upon a wine shop and farmers' market in Bonnieux!

Finally! At the peak after a tough uphill climb at Cucuron.
Looking down at the valley below....
Approaching our hotel at Auberge de Seguin: the inn below the cliffs.The beautiful garden in Hotel Bastide de Gordes in Luberon.

What a surprise to find not one, but two rainbows after evening showers in Gordes!

Flowers bloom profusely in the warm Mediterrranean climate.

Even the wild flowers are gorgeous!

Picturesque village of Gordes built in terraces.

Cycling through charming villages....

...and shops
Our hotel in Lourmarin.

Pottery in Ochre.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Beautiful pictures! Beautiful :) oh could almost feel that I was there while reading through your blog :)

seagrape said...'s amazing how you managed to capture the beauty of this wonderful trip. beautiful!

SOUL: said...

amazing !!! that's all i can say. and TWO rainbows. wow.

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