Prodded by my sister who suggested I blog about the winter my husband and I are spending in Provence, (“you know, kind of like a middle-aged tourist’s point of view”), and frustrated by my computer’s refusal to attach photos to emails, here I am – a blogging neophyte with a first post.
We have the great good fortune to spend the winter months in the Luberon, one of the most beautiful parts of Provence. Characterized by dramatic changes in topography, the region boasts ancient hilltop villages, valleys criscrossed by vineyards and orchards, gold, copper and red leaves glittering in the November sun, and mountain ranges harboring dense cedar forests, dramatic rocky gorges and, at this time of year, daytime evidence of the nocturnal scavenging of wild boar (sanglier.)
Our particular village, Lacoste, dates back to the Gallo-Roman period. Throughout the village is evidence of buildings built on ruins of buildings built on earlier ruins. Layers upon layers of construction, each successive layer a bit less primitive than the last. Wandering in the back yard of our house we stumble upon ruins unexpectedly -fragments of walls, bits of foundation, evidence of the dry-stone construction technique used in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Lacoste’s claim to notoriety is the Chateau de Sade, which was home to the infamous Marquis. Situated at the very peak of the village, built from the palest limestone hewn from local quarries, the jagged remains of the Chateau jut into the blue Provencal sky, reaching so singularly high that one has the sense that the Chateau stands alone and apart from the village – kind of like the Marquis, I guess.
We’ve been here a week. Our first few days can best be characterized as a frenzy of guidebooks, maps, internet printouts and cries of “Look, let’s go here!” “Here’s a hike!” “Here’s a market,” “Look, more cheese!” There is much to do, and we wanted to do it all right away. We are now trying to take a clue from our surroundings and slow down. So rather than devote this first blog post to the frenzy of our first week, which included several towns, several markets, several hikes and lots of cheese, I’m going to craft my blog a little more logically, starting by exploring our region and moving outward as the months go by. (That’s the theory, anyway. There are a couple of stories I have to tell about how neither of us seems able to read a map…..but that is for the next time.) Here are a few pictures: