Friday, April 6, 2012

Two Villages in Provence

I reread Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence while I was home sick Wednesday, and I'm sure I got more out of it this time, having been to Provence and the Luberon region of France, albeit 20 years after Mayle purchased and renovated his old stone farmhouse there.   The villages of Provence and the Luberon have become increasingly popular over the years and are favored vacation destinations of both foreign tourists and the French on holiday, especially in August when we were there.  We stayed with a friend, Anne Marie, in the village of Cadenet, about 5 minutes from the more well-known and touristy Lourmarin.  The apartment where we headquartered was a recent construction, no thick stone walls of an old farmhouse like Mayle's.  It is hot in summer.  There is no air conditioning, just the ubiquitous blue wooden shutters thrown open, no screens on the windows with curtains blowing freely in the breezes that, thankfully, cool everything down in the evenings. 
Like all of Provence, life is lived outside in the summer.   We enjoyed seasonal, Provencal foods as we ate crispy pizzas with veggie and anchovy toppings, fresh cheeses from the local market, tiny finger potatoes and succulent heirloom tomatoes in our salads, rich olive tapenades and local sausages.  Our hostess' courtyard was the perfect setting for our meals and relaxing afterwards.

The outdoor dining area in Cadenet

Hanging out at Anne Marie's

Anne Marie rousted us out of bed one morning so we could visit one of the most popular local markets in near-by Lourmarin.  The streets were packed with cars when we arrived, but I found French drivers can always create a parking place.  Soon we were among the throngs at the market, sampling the food and buying souvenirs for friends and family.

Loumarin market crowd

The sunset was lovely from Anne Marie's garden as we came to the end of another lovely, exhausting day in France.

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