Let's get on with the final installment of my wonderful Provencal holiday with K, Bestie extraordinaire. It's super long. And you may feel tired. But soldier on you old stuff wimp! We did it for reals.
All this was fine and good. But first we had to get there. We left Bonnieux, stopping off at Sénanque Abbey to check out the lavender and the 12th-century monastery which has been back in use since the late 1980s. We didn't go inside because I was foolishly wearing shorts. I knew better but having had my skirt blow up to reveal all the previous day in Bonnieux I thought I'd risk it.
It was beautiful from the outside, we got some great photographs and K bought trinkets at the gift shop. And then we headed out to Gordes, one of my favorite Provencal villages to be honest. There are two shops there that I could spend a fortune in and the views and honey from there are magnificent. (We said 'magnificent' a lot...must be the current replacement for 'awesome' in the U S of A.)
|See. Beautiful from the outside.|
No time to dilly-dally though because we still had Les Baux de Provence and Glanum to see before we reached our inner village St-Rémy hotel--more on this later, but keep in mind that I said the inner village was mostly pedestrian and then note that I said our 'inner village' hotel.
Les Baux de Provence is the old stuff lover's paradise, jackpot, happy dance inducing boon. It really is kinda cool. Mon Mari and I went there on our honeymoon too and I knew K, lover of all stuff old, would pee when she saw it. They've upgraded it with 'shows' since I was there 13 years ago and while this whiff of theme park could possibly distract from the unadulterated ancient beauty of it, I can forgive them for wanting to draw more crowds and sex it up a bit.
The views from the top walls reward you for the vertigo inducing climb up a narrow staircase whose cleaved stairs make it challenging and bring to mind all the thousands of years of feet that stormed up them to the lookout. You can see the Mediterranean and a glimpse of the horizon from up there but when the fortified village was alive and kicking the Med was much closer, covering more of what is now Southern Provence. In one of our honeymoon photos from Les Baux it looks as if a figure is looming behind me in an ancient stone doorway...this is one place you really can imagine spirits lingering.
|Les Baux de Provence & pigeon keep nooks|
This love sustained me through our next feat of tourism.
You remember how I told you about our St-Rémy hotel being inner village, right? Well. We were driving Mon Mari's fancypants with built-in GPS car and naturally I put in the address of the hotel as our final destination. And GPS lady did not let us down. She guided us right smack dab into the middle of the village to the dead-end narrow alley which housed the courtyard door to our hotel. Pedestrians were shuffling, glaring, 'run for your life!' and happy aperitif drinkers sitting at outdoor tables had a dose of diesel fumes as I bullishly, nonsensically, foolishly continued on. Following. The. G.P.S.
You know how I have this tendency to keep on with it even though I know it's probably not great just because I get all freaked out and glassy-eyed with terror. Need I remind you of the diesel/unleaded disaster?
Our stylish and groovy hotel lady came out to her beautifully weathered gray courtyard door in shock. Kindly shock. But shocked indeed. It was a horrible moment. I had only one option. You know what it is already don't you? Let me stress this: I Had To Reverse The Car Out Of The Alley. I nearly lost it. No lie. But I remained calm and steady. Texas girls are born knowing how to back up cars. Or at least all of them in my family are. We're like Mater in Cars the way we zip and zoom around in reverse, undaunted. I channeled the powers of all the Daniels clan and got on with it. It was terrifying. I had about a foot of leeway on either side of the car and the alley curved slightly making the navigation of it even more difficult. When I got out of the tunnel I had to deal with the sidewalk cafe with its smoking, pastis-drinking Frenchies looking on indifferent.
Two big green planters were my downfall. And I have to say that when the lovely French men came up and offered to help, I surrendered. I hope my Texas ancestors will understand. Monsieur Sympa got the car out by reversing out the other direction and going the wrong way on a one way street. At this point, this was the least of my worries.
We were out and then had to find our parking garage which was a complete ass kickin' that made us nearly stop speaking to each other for good. We each kept drawing on the love we felt over passing up Glanum and the promise of a cold beer at the end. Which we found immediately along with a lovely French couple who bought us a round.
The next day we headed back to the safety of the Languedoc but not before stopping off for one last hurrah in Arles. There is old stuff there in spades. And we saw it all. Luckily by tourist train because we couldn't be bothered to walk another foot.
|Arles Coliseum snapped from tiny,white tourist train|
It took me a week to recover. And poor K had to get on an airplane the next day, trudge through four airports and two connections with a hangover and not arrive home to Austin until I was getting up the next day. That's a lot of love folks. A lot of big ol' Texas Bestie Extraordinaire Stylee LOVE.