I accepted my self-challenge to photograph all the water mills on the town map. L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue has 14 of them … some of them working, some of them not. DON’T PANIC. I’m not putting all of them in this post, I’d rather keep my regular reader!
It was a slightly less hot morning yesterday with a couple of showers due, the afternoon was forecast to be wetter so the a.m. was the chosen time for the project. There were indeed a couple of showers but not enough to lay the dust.
The afternoon saw no showers at all so my trip round the mountains to the colourful town of Roussillon didn’t prove to be a repeat of the Corfu experience; all four wheels remained firmly under my control, no thanks at all to the 100s (well several 10s) of maniac cyclists chasing each other down the mountains round narrow hairpin bends in the middle of the road as I was going up. Not sure how any of them survive, but at least I didn’t splat them.
Early evening light at Roussillon
Another brilliant day.
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The Village des Bories (village of huts) just outside Gordes is an example of dry-stone building. In the 17th and 18th centuries farmers were encouraged to clear more land and convert it to arable use because of a lack of grain and other food shortages. Land around villages was already in use and so farmers had to move further afield (pun intended). They used the stone collected in land clearance to build storage facilities, animal shelters and seasonal dwellings. The village outside Gordes grew vines, olive trees and cereals and reared livestock and silkworms. It was abandoned in the mid-19th century, rediscovered and restored 100 years later. It’s a tranquil place, in a beautiful setting.
The town of Gordes, with houses spectacularly placed on the edge of a bluff, has fantastic views …
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Fontaine de Vaucluse is a typical mountain town, narrow twisty streets, independent shops, plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants, but it has the added bonus of having the source of the R. Sorgue just along from the town centre.
There’s a bit of a path up to the bottom of the cliffs and then a scramble through a totally inefficient barrier, the town’s nod to the safety elves, and a scary (if like me you’re wearing flip-flops, holding a dog lead in one hand and a camera in the other) bit of scree on the downward approach to the cavern.
Amazingly, in the first 100 metres from the cavern the trickle is joined by at least 20 side streams and by the time you’re at the first café, about 50 metres further, the river is already about 6 metres wide and an absolute torrent. I stopped in the café for a cuppa (driving) and the noise of the water was incredible, but the air was much cooler and very refreshing. Further back towards the town centre I took a look at the old water mill that used to power a paper mill, been there since the 18th century, still works.
I was informed today by a local lady that the temperatures that we’re currently experiencing are unusually high for May. Normal is 22-23ᴼ and said she, that 34℃ is far too hot! ‘S great when all you have to do all day is potter around and drink the occasional G&T …
R Sorgue, the first 100 metres
The water mill and the fort
Oh, and eat the odd banana split …
Yeah, yeah, I know BB – Snugbury’s is better ice cream …
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Camping Pont-d’Avignon is a great site – and I really should have stayed one more night, as then I could’ve watched Arsenal win the FA Cup on the bar TV rather than reading updates via the web. Trouble was that I made up my mind to depart without thinking of the match. However K joined me on the phone for the last nail biting 4 minutes of stoppage time and we celebrated together – nice one K. Arsenal have now won the cup for a record breaking 13 times with Arsène as manager for 7 of them.
Don’t think I’ve ever digressed preparatory to starting before …
Truth is that I was totally fed up with the singing … One of the delights of the site is it’s position on an island in the middle of the Rhône right opposite the Palais des Papes and the famous St Benézét bridge, wonderful view; the downside being that the evening cruises in extremely large barges pause right by the ruined bridge, and every time they play that “sous le pont” song. One of the barges has a bloke, using a very powerful sound system, playing an accordion and “singing” an extremely small repertoire of that song, followed by Frère Jacques then Allouette and finally a quick rendition of La Marseillaise. He has a middling lousy voice; I wanted to remove his plumage, forget that poor lark’s!
Just before reaching the lavender museum at Coustellat I passed through a great looking town, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which wasn’t on my to visit list, so when the lavender at museum proved not quite blooming I headed back to a site on the edge of the town. Today was market day – and there’s nothing quite like a Provençal market …
… especially in such gorgeous surroundings.
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When I was eighteen, doing my training in London, I bought a fabulous dress – it may have been from Richard shops (now defunct), they were a favourite chain of mine. It was, as per the time, extremely short, what my Dad used to call a pelmet. As was all the rage it was made from lined crinkle cotton, navy blue with tiny white spots, a slightly A-line shift with a small box pleat frill at the hem and at the edge of the short sleeves. I adored it and wore it with high fashion slingback brogue fronted, low heels. I felt like the bees knees with my hair pulled back into a small bun with a navy scrunchy (except that scrunchies hadn’t been invented and we did magical stuff with organza scarves). My best friend at the time, we’d met a year earlier on our first day, coveted The Dress, and being the fantastic best friend that I was she borrowed it if she was going on a date unless I was also going on a date. I had first call on it. Her boyfriend had no idea it wasn’t her own dress until on one date he commented that he had hoped she would be wearing The Dress. She said I was wearing it on a date and had to confess!
I thought very fondly about all this yesterday when I bought a brand new navy blue dress with slightly larger white spots. This one is a tad longer shirt dress, as befits my years. I doubt that I shall ever be as fond of it but I like it and it seemed appropriate and I hope to wear it in September when I meet up for a few days with my current best friend and we go out for a meal.
We shall be celebrating 50 years of dress sharing, problem sharing, holiday sharing, wine and other alcohol sharing, laughter sharing, dog walking, friendship – but no way is she borrowing my dress, she can get her own!
P.S. No picture – I don’t want her getting any covetous ideas!!
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Out walking with the LWD and approaching the centre of Villeneuve-léz-Avignon, I saw a familiar sight. You can recognise them anywhere, the ubiquitous car boot sale. The difference being that whilst English car boot sales are generally out of town in a large (frequently muddy) field, this one, with all roads closed to traffic, was in the town centre. It made for a great atmosphere; every narrow, windy street was full of stalls and busy shoppers. In the town square as well as the stalls all the cafés were open, shaded outside tables full.
Town centre “booting”
The “official sights” were good too!
Phillipe le Bel Tour (top left) Fort Saint-André (bottom)
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I decided to treat myself to a trip on the train of the Cévennes, of course that meant taking the LWD. She didn’t remain an LWD for long. It was a steam train. The carriages had no windows so there was soot all over the floor. What does the former LWD love doing? Rubbing her scent all over floors … she currently bears a remarkable likeness to a panda. Apt considering where else we went. Apart from the ugly looking dog it was a beautiful 40 minute journey and for once, as I wasn’t driving, I was able to enjoy the views without worrying about going off the rails.
Sûr le train à Vapeur des Cévennes
We arrived in Anduze, the other end of the line, but I wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing the town as I’d noticed the previous station called Bambouseraie and caught a glimpse of what was on offer. Throwing all caution to the wind I decided to check it out properly and interrupted the journey back with a 3 hour visit, even had lunch out – blowing the budget for the entire week!
It’s a fascinating place celebrating bamboo, loads of different varieties from a couple of inches high to 50 or 60 feet, twisted, green, yellow and black. It also had a Loatian replica village built of bamboo complete with pigs (real not bamboo), a Chinese dragon garden and Japanese bonsai. Everywhere the sound of running water from the streams and of course there was plenty of shade under the very tall bamboo forests.
A delightfully refreshing but tranquil place. The former LWD seemed to enjoy it too.
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