Those are great, Jazz. Many people, including the French, miss the lavender every year because it seems like a 'late summer' plant -- August or September. That's because one buys it dried out, and 'dried out' = late harvest. Wrong! By the time anybody thinks "hey, I'd like to see the lavender!" it is generally already too late.
Thank you. Kerouac, I have talked to many disappointed people who left it far too late.
Lagatta, the wooden door leads to the apartment where I stayed for a week. The owners lived in the other half. This is the website and I rented 'Sunflower'. www.lamagnanerie.com/
They gave me a very good deal. I felt I was meant to stay there, since it turned out that their Toronto home was 6 blocks from where I live. When I'm not so lazy, I'll do a thread about it, I have some good photos.
I can't quite figure this out: From the hilltop village it is a short walk down the road (1km) to La Bégude de Mazenc. The village boasts two bakeries where you can buy freshly baked croissants, crusty baguettes and mouthwatering pastries. There are two butchers, two grocery stores, a fruit and vegetable store, an art gallery, a pottery with unique creations, an antiques store, a hairdresser, a gas station, post-office, pharmacy, flower shop, tourist office, restaurant and two cafés/bars strategically located from where you can watch the world go by. Every Tuesday is market day.
Do they mean you have to walk UPHILL to the village where you get food etc and downhill to the hamlet where you are renting (this would be easier) or vice-versa? Ikm uphill empty-handed is just healthy exercise, laden-down with stuff it could be a pain.
They seem to also speak German. That could be a plus for someone...
I'm so happy to see this - I was feeling frustrated and sad losing all my hard work on the language resources thread!
Lagatta, you walk DOWNHILL to the small village and trudge up the hill with your shopping. Hot and tiring. My apartment was on the top of the hill where you find the crumbling remains of the ancient Chateau de Mazenc. There is a tiny village, perhaps 100 people, and an old bell tower, remains of the chateau, a cafe-art gallery, and lovely stone residences.
The 'modern' village of La Begude-de-Mazenc, at the bottom of the hill) is welcoming, but I really didn't shop there for food often. Most days Ulrike took me for day trips and that is when I bought my provisions...Nyons, Dieulefit, Grignan, Arles.
Oh, that would be easier. I'm not 20 anymore. I don't mind walking up a hill at all, but laden down with groceries, wine, washing powder and what have you...
Assume there is no little grocery store - what we'd call a "dépanneur" in Québec - in the 100-peep village - I'm sure they all drive down to the bigger village either in cars or scary motorbikes. It does have a magnificent view.
Jazz, this is so beautiful. The first photo, with the exuberant spill of flowers coming right at the viewer, and the rather severe stone facade in the background truly sums up the appeal you describe. (& I love the artistry you used in bringing us that effect!) The juxtaposition of the last two photos in the OP is a delight as well.
Those stone houses! I would endure any primitiveness to live in one of them. They are fairy tale perfection.
What an incredible place,one I've longed to experience for as long as I can remember. I remember seeing little snippets,glimpses of your time spent here Jazz,but,this montage all together,paints a lovely,lovely picture of your whole experience.It will linger for a long time in my mind. The shots of the lavender fields,the last one in particular,really capture the intensity what one must see and feel upon being right there. The stone houses and the almost medieval feel to life there only enhances the surrounding fields. Thank you for sharing this with us! Most exquisite and very lovely. Everything I imagine it must be like and then some. Tell me,does the place get overridden with tourists at the time of year of when the lavender is at it's peak? How was village life? Did it cater to tourists or have the feel of real village life with people going about their daily lives? I would love to hear about this. I have a friend who in the last two or so years went to this region and stayed with a family during harvest time. She returned very renewed and rested,positively loved the experience and the people. She also said that it was very hard work. Thank you again!
and the pics make it even better. I instantly felt I was being refreshed after a hot summer day just watching the photos ( and that feeling can most definitely NOT come from the current climate here - although it isn't raining)
Dans les grandes choses, les hommes se montrent comme il leur convient de se montrer; dans les petites, ils se montrent comme ils sont.
Thanks! The walk home was lovely in the early evenings. In this photo, the building is the front portion of where I stayed,
You can see that little has changed with time, this was painted in 1840,
Casimira, La Begude-de-Mazenc is a sleepy village and not at all touristy. Throughout the week I never heard, or spoke, a word of english. Did I even see another tourist? And I was there in high season, the first week of July.
Most days I walked to the village late afternoon or early evening, after one of my day trips, and enjoyed a drink at one of the two cafes. The one I frequented the most seemed to have only local clientele. It was cheap, comfortable and a touch down-at-the-heel. I liked it. One morning I had breakfast at the 'grand' cafe/hotel on the terrace. I was waiting for the local bus to take me to Le Poet-Laval for the day. Fascinating though it was, with its' Knights Hospitallers history, an hour was enough and I waited 4 hours for the next bus to take me home. I was so relieved that I had arranged for day trips by car with my hostess.
The building is very old. The ‘roof’ that you see is the rounded ceiling of the cellar. The kitchen is there, a few tables and a great place to be during thunderstorms. The charming chef loves to chat and we had many conversations.
While this is an exquisite setting, I would never live in a rural area again, anywhere. (the first 17 years of my existence was enough for a lifetime!) But I love, and need, to visit for short times. The shifting of sensibilites is important to me. I am restless and need to feel that there is stimulation ‘at the ready’ should I choose to indulge. Often, I recreate this pastoral sense in my garden within the city, but I want to have options.
LaMagnanerie was my ‘base’ for the week. Local transport is slow and spotty and it is very expensive to rent an automatic car. Five of the seven days were spent on glorious daytrips, Arles and Avignon, the Nyons market, a winery, and an olive grove (both with their own shops and tasting bars), Grignan, Dieulefit, and Poet-laval and Montelimar. I was unbearably excited and stimulated by these. Then, I would go ‘home’ to LaMag for late afternoons and evenings…meandering around the ancient hilltop village, taking the odd photo, a drink and conversation at the café, simple dinners on my terrace as the light slowly shifted, writing in my journal, and the special pleasure of two perfect meals given by my hostess in her garden. The nights on my terrace were beautiful. Each night, it was my outdoor living room. Sometimes it was chilly. I wrapped up in a blanket, armed with a bottle of wine, laid on the lounge and loved the night. Van Gogh’s ‘Starry night’ came to mind.
It took four months of being in Paris to finally venture out of the city, other than a few day trips. There is still so much that I want to see in Paris that it was difficult to leave. Each time I go, there is so much more that I want to see. The perfect short trip to France for me would be this:
The first 3 weeks in Paris, a week in one of the many beautiful areas of France, the final 2 weeks in Paris. During the 5 weeks in Paris, I would take many more day trips which give a feeling of being very far from Paris. Thus far, I have visited Auvers-sur-Oise, Giverny, Reims and the champagne houses, and Versailles. There is an excellent book on day trips, An Hour From Paris, by Annabel Sims.
I am boring you with this because I feel the timing was wrong in my trip. The first month was spent in Paris, and the last week of the trip was Provence. As the train whipped past Paris en route to CDG on my last day in France, I looked out and felt like crying. All I wanted to do was to go down to the Seine and have a un café or un verre de vin.
Jazz, I had exactly the same feeling on the same train after spending a week working at a young-adult event in Auvergne after a couple of weeks in Paris (following other work in Amsterdam). I just wanted to stay in Paris, though there is no rational way I could make enough to afford a Parisian rent and the money I'd have to spend on things like health insurance as a foreign national working for Canadian concerns.
Have you spent any length of time in other French cities? I spent over a month in Lyon, a beautiful old city - some say it is hidebound but I knew some pretty wild people there. Met Rachid Taha who is a very famous singer now. I have been to other cities but not for as long. Lovely as the countryside you depict is, I'd be unhappy there for more than a couple of weeks - I don't drive for one thing, and it is too hilly for a creaky middle-aged person to get around by bicycle.
I would move back to Perugia if I could (the lay of the land is not dissimilar to Provence) but while smaller than Montréal, not to say Paris, it is a city with good public transport and railways to Florence and Rome (it is about halfway in-between) and although it certainly isn't as cosmopolitan as Mtl, Paris or Toronto, since it has long hosted a university where foreign students study Italian, it is unusually varied for a not-very-big central Italian city. Many former students have put down roots, opening restaurants, food shops, travel agencies and other businesses and often forming couples with Italians.
Jazz, your photos are beautiful. What a serene looking place. I like your idea of sandwiching a week in a rural village between weeks in Paris. Its an idea that would work well in many places, even outside of France.
I would love to be able to take a 6 week vacation somewhere. Maybe some day.
Lagatta, I haven’t spent time in any other French cities. Being rather ‘all or nothing’, if I visit a city in France, I want it to be Paris,or, la France profonde. It would take years for me to fully explore Paris. But, since returning home, I have been receiving information from the French rail system on special weekend deals which are incredibly inexpensive. The TGV is so fast that the next time I would take advantage of some of these. Marseille intrigues me and I would like to stay in the Old Port.
You have such a mobile set of skills as a translator! I’ve been mulling over your situation and it seems to me that there must be some way to make Paris affordable for you. As I read Fodor’s or TA, I marvel at the high budgets of most of the travelers. Most Parisians don’t spend anything close to that amount of money and they appear to be just fine, for god’s sake. No, they’re not euphoric...who is? Like you, I would need to work if I stayed for a while, but my French is pathetic (could be worked on) and I don’t have EU work status. (big problem) Three months is the most that I could stay. If I spent the three months I would not only need, but want, to work to give focus to the time. Working would give a much deeper appreciation and understanding of life in Paris. I'm happiest shifting between levels of experience. In my fantasy 8-), work three or four days a week, take some courses in art and cooking etc, write, and explore other parts of France, and Europe. You are certainly fluent in French, have a great base of friends there and an in depth knowledge of the city. I’m not sure about your work status. (Once I’ve solved your problem, I’ll come and visit!) Perugia sounds perfect for you. I'd love to hear more about your time there.
Christina, I love the idea of juxtaposing in almost anything…it enhances the total experience.
I was doing research in Lyon. There are worse places. Lyon has beautiful views from the two main hills, La Croix Rousse and Fourvière. And wonderful French food at lower prices than in Paris, and many say better (though of course Paris wins hands down as a cosmopolitan city with food from all over the world - the main non-French influences in food in Lyon are Maghrebi, Italian and some Vietnamese - there is not the great variety of cultures as found in Paris. Oh, do visit Marseille - also Aix and Avignon.
I don't spend any more than an ordinary Parisian worker when I'm there - I don't go to restaurants every night as I love markets and cooking. The problem, other than work status (one of the best things to do is advanced university studies) is simply that rents in Paris are far higher than rents in Montréal and that it is hard to rent a place without proof of employment (fiches de paie etc), and my employment would be basically from this side of the pond (which is perfectly legal, I'm not "working in France" - though the séjour must be justified by some other motive).