Le Castellet

This Brexit business is really eating me up. The past two years, I have been have been wrenched and depressed because of the mess. When will this status quo end? And what will happen next? I have had enough of this nonsense!

BTW, I am a firm Remainer, Ok? And I LOVE EUROPE!! All the Europeans I have come across in & out of the U.K are dismayed by those Brexiteers. While the world faces much bigger threats, such as the climate change, why do we allow those small-minded politicians to manipulate us in order to satisfy their selfish ambitions?

During the present uncertainty, what can I help me to lessen the anxiety over the impending global doom? Focusing on what I can protect and nurture and staying positive. I should be thankful for my ordinary happiness and be kind to my fellow living creatures. And of course, I should keep up with my blog! Recalling what a fabulous time mom and I had in France will be a great remedy for my present pessimism.

After our lunch at Cassis, we headed to our next destination, Le Castellet.

The village was about 27km away from Cassis and it took us about 40 minutes to drive.

When we arrived at a visitor’s carpark, it was empty. ‘It’s so quiet, isn’t it?’ Mom looked around as she put on a hat. As we stepped out of the carpark, we saw a group of appeared to be German tourists, climbing back into a coach with a German numberplate.

‘So where is the village?’ There was no obvious signage to the place. Still, I reckoned it must have been at the end of ascending road we were on.

So I was right! We reached the outskirt of the village.

We got slightly sweaty because the sun was strong and the climb was rather steep.

A light breeze and the beauty of scenery around us was a reward for the effort…

The entrance to the village…

The village has a long history – it is more than 2000 years old. The first settlers were the Celts, then invading Romans and barbarians, and the next settlers were the Saracens. Eventually, the old settlement on the hill was officially recorded as Castellarium in 1030.

The location of Castellet was important for defending and communication throughout its long existence. It became a part of the Gallo-Roman empire, and during the Medieval times, it became a protected township which belonged to the Baux and King RenĂ© of Anjou…

Mom and I walked towards a village centre…

Looking back the entrance…

What is the meaning of those plants hung upside down? We wondered. Are they some sort of talismans?

Streets of the mediaeval villages are narrow and the ones in Le Castellet were no exception. Most of the streets we walked on were barely wide enough for a van. It would be a huge logistic headache for any builder who worked on building projects around here, I thought.

As we got closer to the village centre, we started to see more gift shops…

One thing I found rather disappointing was a lack of originality in the merchandise they sold. So far, we saw nearly identical gifts, especially, tea towels and soft furnishings, at every village and town we visited.

Cafes and restaurants were closed until dinner time…

Ice cream shops were open though.

A church was the tallest building in the village…

The inside was comfortably cool.

Spotlessly clean cobbled street. How civilised! I wished if the streets around Shoreditch were free from litter like Le Castellet…

Lush blooms and green were everywhere to be seen. Unlike me, who is not interested in gardening, Mom loves looking after flowers and plants. So she was happy to see those well-tended hanging baskets and flower beds.

We decided to head back to our car…

Ahhh, a Chihuahua!

Are you enjoying a quiet afternoon? My late Chihuahua, Mr.B, loved chilling out on a pavement during summer days too…

Then, we met two Yorkies! Oh, how I missed my Bella in London…

So, our visit to Le Castellet was over…

There was a souvenir shop outside of the village wall and a large dog was chilling out by the door…

Postcards and fridge magnets on sale. Even though their style wasn’t my cup of tea but they looked cute en masse.

Quiet early summer afternoon…

Mom, we are almost there. She was a bit tired after negotiating steep ups and downs of Le Castellet.

We returned to Aux-en-Provence after making a quick detour to stock up at Carrefour.

Next day, we were heading to Antibes!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lourmarin & Cadenet

The next place we visited before Aix-en-Provence was Lourmarin. The village was listed as “one of the most beautiful villages in France” and we were intrigued by the claim.

A carpark by the perimeter of the village appeared to be full so we proceeded further into the heart of the village and managed to find a space on the street lined with large trees.

The time was around half past two o’clock and the street was very quiet. We saw all the gift shops and cafes were open but they weren’t at all lively.

Lourmarin was famous for its castle. Apparently, the castle had an amazing stone staircase which resembled a fusilli pasta. ‘Mum, do you want to see the castle?’

She pondered for a while but in the end decided not to visit the building because her knee was hurting. ‘I am sorry if you are missing out on opportunities because of me.’, she apologised.

To be 100% honest, Lourmarin didn’t leave me with much impression. The landscape wasn’t as spectacular as Gordes or Roussillon – just didn’t possess the same “wow” factors of the aforementioned places.

After leaving Lourmarin, we drove past Cadenet…

I can’t remember why we pulled over there and then. But anyway, we decided to stop.

A vast vineyard!

We climbed back to the car and headed to our next destination, Aix-en-Provence…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Roussillon

Our next destination was a commune called Roussillon. A guidebook recommended the place as a “must-see” so we decided to lunch there.

What made Roussillon unique was its reddish rocks and soil which added rosy and orangish tones to the scenery. It was due to the earth in the area was rich in clay with ochre deposits – ochres were pigments ranging from yellow and orange to red.

Unlike Gordes’, Roussillon’s carpark and the vicinity were very quiet…

Ragged rock face was punctuated by openings and doors…

Are they some sort of storage, like railway arches? What the inside is like?, mum and I were very curious…

We didn’t came across a single soul while we sauntered towards the village centre. Where was everybody? Not even the sound of everyday life, such as the sound of TV or washing machine, was heard from the walls which lined a narrow street…

Heavenly scent of jasmine greeted us…

Psssss, it’s so quiet. We must keep our voice down…

Around Place de la Mairie, there were a plenty of eateries and we decided to have lunch at one of them.

We were ushered to a narrow staircase which led us to an outside seating area…

The terrace commanded a fine view of the valley…

As we settled into our seats, the weather seemed to be going south and the wind started to increase the strength. ‘Oh god, I hope it will stay dry…’, mum frowned while she looked on one of the staffs struggling to secure a canopy above the terrace which was flapping rather wildly.

For our lunch, we ordered their plat du jour, steak!

Mmmm, it was delicious. A couple, who were seated next to us, saw what we were tucking in and ordered the same dish!

After lunch, I left mum in Place de la Mairie and went to fetch our car.

‘Where does this path lead to?’ I couldn’t resist my curiosity so decided to do a quick detour…

The narrow passage led me to a higher ground…

And I found more cafes and restaurants…

There were small gates and passages everywhere. Very intriguing…

One of the stairs led me to an open terrace which offered another great view over the Luberon Valley…

It was so tempting to climb up another path to see if any hidden gem would await me…

However, I resisted the temptation because mum would be worried if I failed to return soon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Gordes

Yes, the snow is here and it makes me feel like we are finally having a proper winter. And I don’t mind the weather as long as it won’t disrupt my journey to the ice rink tonight!

My entry today is going to be a perfect antidote against the present chill because it is about the little village in southeastern France where mum and I visited during our road trip last summer.

From Avignon to Gordes, our first village in the Luberon region of Provence, the journey didn’t take very long…

There were many pretty villages in the Luberon Valley and having to choose just a few was an agony for us. However, it would require at least another week of stay in the area if we wanted to explore it properly and we didn’t have that time.

Gordes was one of those “eagle’s-nest” type villages which were perched on the summits of boulders. As we got closer to the commune, a winding road leading to the place got narrower and steeper. Prior to our visit, we learnt from a guide book that parking in the village could be tricky so we decided to park in a public parking area by the entrance of the village. While we were getting out of our car, a fleet of coaches pulled up and poured out a herd of tourists. ‘I am so glad that we’ve managed to park before more crowds arrive!’, mum and I whispered to each other as we walked behind them.

A view from the roadside…

It was about five minutes’ walk from the car park to the centre of the village…

We wandered around the village for a while…

We strolled down a quiet street which was lined with pretty shops…

Oh, this was exactly I imagined how the village in Provence would look like! Honey coloured stonework and climbing roses. How idylic…

Time to time, we caught a glimpse of a the Luberon Valley between the buildings…

Luscious green of Provence!

These are the colours of Provence. How delicious they look. I really miss them!

Mum spotted a small studio which was selling hand painted plates and she wanted to see the inside…

There were loads of pretty earthenware on sale…

Mum decided to buy a small dish for olive oil. ‘This will remind me about our time together’, she smiled. Oh, thank you, mum!

After shopping, we walked to the end of the row of houses and saw this…

Isn’t it beautiful?

We walked back towards the village centre and came across a little cake shop…

Shall we buy some treat?

Ahhh, our favourite, Tarte TropĂ©zienne! We couldn’t resist it.

Leaving mum with a box of the cake in the village square, I returned to the car park alone so she wouldn’t have to strain her knee.

I saved the best view of Gordes for you…

Upon leaving the village, we did have a little incident and it was hairy! For some unknown error, Google navigation displayed a cycle path instead of car route, and as a result, I drove into an impossibly narrow lane. I am not sure if I could reverse all the way without my mum’s calm navigation. She did save me from badly scratching a bodywork of my car. Thank you, mum!!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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