Friday, August 27, 2010

Provence--Old and New

Twelve years, no kids and fewer wrinkles ago we got married. Our honeymoon was a wonderful two weeks in France; one week in Provence, the other in Paris. It was the beginning of a love affair....not just between me and Mon Mari but also between us and France. We spent a couple of days driving around the Luberon visiting towns like Gordes, Buoux, Bonnieux, Roussillon. Back then we stopped at cafes and had a pastis or a beer at each one, reading the paper, magazines, writing postcards and talking about our future. What did it hold? How would we be as a married couple? How many kids? When?

boys in Goult
The beginning of a marriage is big. Big in a how do we put our two lives together, how long will this fuzzy haze of love last, have I signed my life away on a person who makes me get out and push the rental car backwards because neither of us can find reverse?

Now it's even bigger. Different, bigger, better. I'm sure I'd still be the one to push the car but now there'd be four people watching and cheering me on. Or maybe we'd be smart enough to find reverse.

On our honeymoon we had lunch at a cafe that hugged the side of the mountain with a view of the valley below. Next to our table there was a British family. I remember watching them and thinking how lucky they were to be there. How wonderful it must be to live close enough to France to be able to bring your kids over and sit at that cafe in the sun enjoying a delicious lunch. As an American, and a Texan to boot, Europe is quite a haul.....even more so with kids.

But now we actually live here! So, this week we decided to head back over to Provence and check out some of the places we saw back then. This time with our three kids.

We drove around looking for the spots we'd remembered. It was a different experience of course, but better really. The kids were great in the car, well-behaved at lunch in Goult, patient while we took turns popping into the Sylla wine cooperative in Apt, and ate their ice cream with gusto while we enjoyed an digestif.

Dinner was a very fancy affair of French cuisine's dirty little secret--frozen food from Picard. Our family room had a microwave so we bought stuff we could cook in 4 minutes. We sat on the terrace overlooking the parking lot and ate our French tv dinners. "What a romantic view!", Ma Fille sarcastically sighed.

The best part was that we didn't have a plan.Yesterday we woke up and looked at the map. Where should we go?

Ocher & Pines
We chose Roussillon. It is a beautiful village in the way of all the beautiful villages but with an added beauty bonus. It's built in a part of the Luberon that's made of ocher. The varied shades of red, yellow, pink, and rust are reflected in the buildings of the town. It is truly stunning.

A fantastic day unraveled before us with little to no planning. We strolled around and up and down the village. And then we took the mountain path they've cleverly and immaculately constructed on the edge of the town. It is easily walkable (even for the Littlest) path through red sand, shaded by pine trees made vibrantly green in contrast. We were all stained ocre when we emerged. You can't imagine how bizarrely wonderful it was to see all that color in the middle of the white limestone hills.

kids turning ocher

As we sat in the outdoor cafe having our much deserved lunch the familiar feeling of joy and gratitude hit me. We are here. Living here.With our kids. Amazing. I am constantly pinching myself.

More Roussillon photos here.
We drove home tired and happy, screaming baby drowned out by singing along to bad French radio at the top of our lungs. And while I didn't have to get out and push the car there were a few diapers to change.


  1. This is amazing!! The fact that as a Texan you spent a week of your honeymoon in Provence (I'm a Texan, I understand) and now live here these twelve years later with your three children... wonderful!

  2. Roussillon is one of my favorite places. I love the little village and the coutryside in those amazing colors.


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