Part 4. High On Lavender
We have exactly eight hours to visit the whole of stunning Luberon before we have to get ready for the fancy wedding affair that night. Challenge accepted.
No productive day shall start without a hearty breakfast, French style of course. It is already steamy outside but there is no way we’re not having breakfast on the terrace of the Bar des Amis, the charming hostel we selected for our stay in Provence. Coffee, tea, fresh squeezed juices, pastries, baguette, butter, homemade jams, fruit, goat cheese (huh?) are delivered to us. A dog walks by. I bite into a croissant. Life is good.
The Bar des Amis is operated by a young family and is so French it is almost cliché: it has four rooms, all of which we booked, none of which looks the same. The stairs are tilted, the shower drain clogs within a day, but the views are unparalleled. We love it.
Conveniently located on the main square of the village - which, also postcard-worthy, bears a fountain - the hostel seems to have been elected the location of choice for all locals in need of a strong coffee in the morning and a strong drink in the evening. They of course all know each other and may even be somewhat related. They call each other ‘cousin’ and have a charming accent that sings the south. We don’t. They stare, we stare back, we clearly are the outliers here. #villagelife
Time to go.
Packed in two separate cars, we set off on our grand provencal adventure.
First stop, the Colorado Provencal. Pray tell, what exactly is the Colorado Provencal? I am glad you asked. It is a former ocher-mining quarry with yellow and red rock formations, creating a surreal desert experience. Nothing like I’ve ever seen in the US (sarcasm), and the best possible place to be on a 100 degree day (sarcasm, oops I did it again). Real talk: boob sweat is running down my back and starting to pool in my underpants within two minutes of the hike.
Are we there yet?
Second and third stops. Nothing like a refreshing stroll around villages sitting on top of hills (it is closer to the sun that way) in the midst of lavender fields, and built entirely of heat-absorbing stones. But who’s here to complain? We have an entire state to visit in one day. Tick tock.
I scurry from one shaded area to the next. There is only one fault in my master plan: it is now nearing noon and you know what noon does to shadows. It renders them inexistent, much like the amount of water I now have in my bottle.
The sun is like the eye of Sauron (shameless LOTR reference), we can’t seem to ever hide from it. We’re all gonna die here. Thankfully, we can pop into one of the million lavender shops around town to cool down.
Fourth stop. We passed by twenty lavender fields on the way there. On the outside, I am looking good: cool outfit, espadrilles, straw hat, Chanel shades. On the inside, I am a melted mess of epic proportions. Real talk: boob sweat is now in my shoes. I have a theory that French people don’t drink much water because of the lack of decent restrooms anywhere. To hell with that. The smart one in our group buys two bottles of H20. Like a pack of beasts, we throw ourselves at them. They promptly vanish. We know that we will sweat it all out anyway.
Whichever stop, frankly I am no longer counting. We are on the verge of a mutiny. We vote pro or cons visiting yet another charming village located in the middle of, guess what, more lavender fields. I vote for. What on earth was I thinking???
Luckily, our very last stop is the antithesis of all previous ones. An oasis, truly. Nestled in between hills as opposed to on top, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is cool and fresh and green and has a million gelato stands. Introduce me to the mayor, I could just french kiss them!
The local curiosity is a hole. Yes, a hole, that goes deep in the trenches of the earth and where it does not see the scorching sun. Like ever. If it weren’t for my fear of ‘what lies beneath’, I would have dived right in.
But there is no time to waste on creepy cave creatures, we have a wedding to attend. Glitz awaits.
To be continued...
Words and photos: Cécile Charlot.