Saturday, June 05, 2010

Last days in Haute Provence

More Rambles around the old HP, along with some in Provence Lower. Here are some of the joints we popped into:

Minerbles was the setting for Peter Mayle's book about his Year in Provence. Another delightful town on a hill (all the towns on hills are delightful - yet to see a dull one). May very well have sighted PM himself, but never having seen him, nor even a photo of the chap, how could we ever know? On the way we saw one field of blooming lavender and promised ourselves a return for a photo. But it never happened ...

King William I of England came from Orange. Along with Mary. This town has been occupied by many different Powers, including the Dutch, the Visigoths, the Romans and the French, but not in that order. The best part of Orange, however, is the ginormous Roman theatre that dominates the city. It is HUGE! Appazzas, it was dug up in the early 20th Century, having been used for a variety of purposes that included: theatre (Oh derrr!), prison, fort, and (wait for it) village! Yes, at one time it housed an entire village! Houses were built up against the walls of the stage and the natural rock amphitheatre. You can still see where the roofs had been attached to the stage wall. During the GL (Glorious Revolution) the government ordered the evacuation of the village, but it took 20 years for this to happen. Then it fell into decay and it wasn't till the early 20th Century that it was excavated and restored to its present stunning majesty. It is now used as a theatre again and now playing the Phantom of the Opera. Check this beauty out on the web - there must be something on it.

The thing to do at Nyons is to have a look in the olive oil (huile d'olive) museum. Of course this is where you (and taste) buy all sorts of local produce, including wine, cheese, olives and of course the oil. The museum itself was cute and informative, as was the movie that ran in a continuous loop. However, the highlight was the ancient gentleman (89-y-o) who set his sights on JLR. "Who is with her?", he asked Susan in Fluent Fronch. Sooz's wiggling finger indicated that it was GCR and the blonde that made up the Couple. The rheumy eyes displayed a level of disappointment that only rheumy eyes can (poor chap!). Anyhoo, it turn out that this Ancient Personage is the owner of the whole show. He berated Susan in heavily-accented French on the health-giving qualities of cold-pressed virgin huile d'olive and was later seen addressing a group of well-behaved primary school children sitting in a demi-circle at his feet. Later we saw his fizz in the posters advertising the joint. [This is not a unique experience for Jude, as similar situations have arisen at the Cliff Booth winery, I have been reliaby informed, but that was BG, so I only have the word of the likes of Dianne Albiston and
Ewan Smith on that]. Sooz spoke at some length with this aged person (I actually think she fancied her chances, despite her brunettedness) and ascertained that his first language was probably Provencale and not French! Most place names around these here parts are presented in two languages, so the language must still be in use.

Lots more cute villages with cuter chateaux atop were visited by The Ramblers, Susan and our companions for the week Stephanie Rose and Jenna Holwell. They all defy description and you'll just have to come and see for yourselves. It's worth it many times over.

On the last night with our companions we drove to a teensy village high above Buis-Les-Baronnies for dinner. While the reports of the cooking from the others was not glowing (I quite liked my beef corgnettes), the experience was something else. In this tiny square (I know, ANOTHER tiny thing!) the village children and village dogs played around
our feet while the older villagers drifted in for their meals and/or drinks. The locals were either middle class professional types, farmer types or hippy types. The French chatter in the fading light with the mountain and valley views made for a perfect end to a wonderful sojurn at B-L-B. Lots of driving tomorrow, so I'd better get some sleep. More when we get to Annecy!

See youse!


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