Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Vacationing in Provence

This year, instead of traveling all over France to visit our family, we rented a gite in the Drôme Provençale and asked everybody to visit us there. The place was called La Colline Bleue. The owners, M. et Mme Armand, are a very friendly couple and they love children. The kids are still talking about the beautiful collection of fossils from all around the world that they saw at their house. The gite was rustic but charming and spacious enough for our numerous family members. The main attraction was the pool, surrounded by pine trees and overlooking the Baronnies hills. Feeding everybody was made easy thanks to the village's well-supplied supermarket.

La Colline Bleue.

La Colline Bleue has an ideal location. There are many activitities to do in this land of olive, lavender, vines and apricot trees including visiting picturesque perched villages, buying local produces and souvenirs at provençal markets and hiking the local peaks for panoramic views of the Mont Ventoux and the Alps.

The village of Rosans

Nyons, the olive capital, is 30 minutes away. It is an attractive city with a medieval old town and a Romanesque bridge. Every Thursday morning, its picturesque Provençal market attracts large numbers of tourists as well as local families.

The Romanesque bridge at Nyons

Vaison la Romaine, the Roman city, is another half an hour drive away. It is the the largest archaeological site in France. The Roman bridge, crossing the river Ouvèze, is one of the very few antique bridges still in use today. Just above the bridge, the Medieval city is perched high on the rocks.

Ruins of a Roman villa at Vaison

We had a memorable dinner at the Moulin à Huile in Vaison, a Guide Michelin one star restaurant that offers a creative cuisine combining Provençal and exotic flavors.

Rable de lapin au romarin, beurre de moutarde, petit palet des hauts de côtes et pistache, mousse de petit pois, pomme de terre negresse.

Going beyond Vaison and towards Carpentras, you reach the Dentelles de Montmirail country, an excellent terroir for the Côtes du Rhône where the Grenache grape thrives. The picturesque route des vins takes you through the pretty villages and the caves of Cairanne, Rasteau, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise.

A vineyard in Cairanne

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