15th August was a bank holiday in France. The plan was to leave early to catch the annual parade at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence which ended at 12 noon.

We left at 9.30 am in the hope of reaching Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at 10.30 am. Saint-Rémy is 69 km from our holiday home at Lagarde-Paréol

While driving 42 km, we were -literally-stuck in a traffic jam. Our GPS did not forewarn us of the stagnated traffic, bumper-to-bumper kilometres long! It happened just before 10 am. We thought it was just the usual traffic; after all, it was a public holiday and we suspected that most people would be heading for the grand parade at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

However, the clock on the GPS ticked … 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes …  We still had 27 km to go and the cars did NOT budge an inch!  And then we saw cars winding down their windows and human heads popping out and necks stretching out as far left or right to take a glimpse of what lay ahead. 

At about 20 minutes, we heard the police siren and then the ambulance. 

After a while, we saw people – restless people – getting out of their cars. I jumped on the bandwagon and got out of the car. Below were some memorable photos I took on the A7 highway of the mega long queue of cars on 15th August, 2016. Our GPS confirmed an accident had occurred that morning. I could only guess that it was a serious one as the highway was immediately cordoned off. All cars behind us had to drive an alternative route. 

Honestly I felt quite agitated with the long wait….there goes our morning and our plan to be at the parade on time ...😏

After 40 minutes of being completely traffic-immobilised, we finally progressed. Geez!

The Carreto Ramado of Saint-Rémy de Provence

We finally arrived at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at 11.25 am! With about half hour  of what’s left of the Parade, we actually managed to watch the grand finale, the Carreto Ramado, an enormous float, decorated with the flora and vegetation, symbolising the farm and produce of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the region.  

The huge cart was drawn by at least 50 draught horses, splendidly harnessed one behind the other. It was a sight to behold! 


I smelt lavender everywhere! And a bit of garlic and horse manures. Lol!

The Carreto Ramado procession is one of the most important events of the summer festivals.  

Despite the heat, the crowds were thrilled to relive the tradition of the northern Alpilles since the 19th Century. 

These sweet looking girls and handsome boys paraded with pride wearing the costumes of the Arlésiennes from 1900. 

The carts, horses, floats, costumed ladies and gentlemen paraded around the town all morning until noon. We were glad to experience that moment, albeit our tardy show up.

By 12 noon, the crowds dispersed, and suddenly, the streets became more fluid.

After the repugnant lunch experience we had at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we vowed to have a more decent meal. 

Honestly it was easier to find Gault Millau rated restaurants at Saint-Rémy than most of the neighbouring towns in the Provence, meaning, we’re assured of the best dishes being executed in relation to what we were willing to pay, of course😁

And I had one word for our lunch deal. Exquisite!

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is one of the towns in South France that has the most English-speaking tourists. 

By the way, we had frequented Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in many of our trips and have always loved it there, so much so that we stayed there during 3 consecutive Summers in the same holiday villa owned by a British couple.

We left Saint-Rémy driving along the most spellbinding avenue of trees which were synonymous of the town. LOVED it!

Eygalières

Before driving home, we stopped by at the address which was once upon a time a 2 Michelin-star restaurant owned by a Belgian couple, Wout and Suzy Bru. 

4 years ago while we visited Eygalières, the restaurant was called, Maison Bru. 


This Summer, the Maison Bru signage was replaced by a new owner. 

I read that the Bru’s moved back to Belgium and opened a Brasserie-type restaurant in Antwerp and Wout Bru is no longer a Michelin-star chef. 

With 5 days left of our Summer hols, would we be relaxing at the poolside or exploring for more adventures?

Stay tuned to find out 😉

Cheers!

After the magnificent and transcending walks in Carpentras and the summit of Le Mont Ventoux the day before, coupled with countless vitamin D, natural reflexology and tons of oxygen, we slumbered fathomlessly. We woke up super late the morning after and left the house at 11.30 am, immediately after a quick breakfast.

We headed for L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a small town in Vaucluse, also known as the Venice of Provence.

It was not our first time visiting L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which was 66 km from our holiday home. It’s a charming little town with its many old but attractive water wheels, the many waterside cafés and restaurants and the little mossy bridges criss-crossing the canals. Charming!

Our late arrival at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue beckoned us to look for something to eat. After all it was almost 1 pm. With the glaring sun and 39 deg C, we were pressured to look for a cool shelter along the canal.  There were many restaurants and almost all were full house. We finally found one when a family of 4 just left the table. 

We were being served by young entrepreneurs (4 guys serving and a girl at the cash till), who spoke reasonably good English with French accent. Unfortunately the guys were not attentive lots as they had forgotten to bring the free jug of iced-cold water and a mini basket of cut baguette.  We had to remind them and the wait for our dishes to be served took a long time. 

By the way, the photo collage below may look “Wow” at the first instant, but what we were being served were complete rubbish. The only thing that deserved a positive feedback was the crème brûlée (what I had as dessert)

The starter of warm goat’s cheese on a slice of baguette on a bed of iceberg salad was nothing to shout about. 

The main course of grilled steak with fries and salad was the BIGGEST disaster! The thin slice of beef steak was burnt, dry and as hard and chewy as a leather. The fries were a FLOP – burnt and greasy to the core. Yucks! There was NO sauce!!!  Conclusion: Our main course was as dry as the Sahara Desert, all burnt under the 39 degrees Celsius of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue!

Hubby and the boys had a hattrick of the most disappointing meal with a burnt dessert of tarte tartin to round up! 

Well, what could I say? It was a Eur 16 three-course lunch menu. Even the Eur 14 complete menu at Carpentras was so much better.

Annual Floating Market

What a pity we missed the floating market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue! It’s held every first Sunday in August, however, we had other plan that Sunday (7th Aug). We were equally entertained that day, if you could recall Part 2 of my Back To Sunny Provence post 😉

To have an idea of the Floating Market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, below are some photos which I took from the Internet, which I have given credit to the photographers captioned under the photo-collage.

By the way, the flat-bottomed boats are known as Nègo Chin, which are traditionally used for fishing.

Impressive, isn’t it?

Photos courtesies of Valerie Biset and Tonton84


Going Back In Time …

I had no clue about the link between the eccentric late Keith Floyd, a British celebrity cook, TV personality, restaurateur, a bon viveur and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue until I read about the write up on that little town. Apparently, Keith Floyd had established a restaurant there during a lengthy sojourn in South France in the 70’s.  How interesting!

Well, our presence at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was not because of Keith Floyd, but more so, for the oldest flea market and antique fair. 

That’s right, we went “back in time” inundated with the mind-boggling items sold there. Literally, we did not know where to start.

And then I saw something familiar! I was excited. My mum had and still has the big vase, I’m pretty sure!! 

I remembered my Mum rearing 2 baby tortoises in there at one point of time, and then it was used as water reservoir. I haven’t the slightest inkling what my Mum has been using the vase for now 🤔 

Guess what, Mum, the vase is an antique!!! It’s worth Eur 120 (ca RM 600) at the antique fair at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue! Better keep the vase in tip-top condition. A little crack or restoration will, unfortunately, bring down the price🙁

This queer-looking antique shop has attracted hundreds and thousands of tourists over the years. The antique dealer deals only in animal format, dead or alive 😳

Down Memory Lane

I had walked more kilometres in a day in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue than I would in a week when I’m home! And I had never perspired that much 😁

It was interesting perusing the old scripts from yesteryears, for example the weekly French newspaper, L’Illustration from 1914 -1944. Each newspaper is worth Eur 15 today. I wonder how much it was worth then ?

Meanwhile, hubby was in nostalgic mode when he viewed the black-and-white postcards of Belgique / Belgium. It was interesting watching his expressions of awe at buildings and places he’s familiar with now compared to what he saw on the postcards.

It was fascinating  to watch an artist spending his time sketching intricately the detailed Medieval stained glass windows. I did not stay long to watch him splash colours on his sketch. We still had a lot to see.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the price tags dangling on the Panama hats. Each was priced at Eur 70 and above ! They looked like the straw hats from, yes Panama, sold at the daily village market in Provence and each hat was priced from Eur 10 and a bit more.

Finally, I found these cute old suitcases, which reminded me of a school bag one of my sisters and I had when we were in Primary school. We called the bag, “kapit bag”. I’m sure my siblings will be laughing at this point. It’s a family story and personal, hence, I will leave it as such😉

After walking under the glaring sun for 4 hours plus, we wound up empty-handed! Nothing this year caught our eyes. In 2013, we bought a few things back. This year, we had to be careful with the space in our trunk. A good portion of the space had been reserved for the red wines and Muscat!

Anyway, it was another great walk and we enjoyed the spread of antiques from every stall. We left L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at 5.30 pm.

Stay-Home Sunday

On the way home, we stopped at Intermarché. I bought some chicken, potatoes, onion, garlic, chillies, shallots, fresh coriander and cucumber. I had brought “Uncle Ben’s jasmine rice”, fresh ginger and Baba’s serbuk kari daging with me on our long-haul road trip 😃


I was craving for something SPICY!!! 

And I made this for our Sunday lunch. 

Yummy!

The next day, 15th August was a public holiday in France, as well as Belgium. It’s the day of The Assumption of Mary into Heaven.  We’re looking forward to a procession at our next stop.

Meaning

We had to get up early and leave the house early. Duh!

See you soon!

Cheers!

We finished our memorable cheapest lunch deal ever at Carpentras at 3 pm. Although the portions were not huge, but the 3-course meal, inclusive 25 cl glass of rosé wine gave us the energy to continue our journey to our next stop.

Correction! Our next HIGHEST stop!!!

Le Mont Ventoux 

Our GPS brought us to the village at the foot of Le Mont Ventoux called Bedoin. It was about 24 km from Carpentras

I shall never forget the driving ordeal I went through driving on the single lane (entrance = exit) narrow roads of Bedoin. It was nerve-wracking! 

Correction! Hubby drove but his driving scared the bejesus out of me! He was driving down the super narrow one-lane road (photo below, left), while another car was driving out. Imagine reversing backward and upwards on the very, very steep slope surrounded by buildings at both sides ~ with no soft landing, whatsoever ~ at almost a 90-degree angle? That’s madness!  I was pressing hard the floor of the car on my side as if I was braking, while gripping the arm rests ever so tightly. I was petrified! What a relief when it was all over. Phew!

Well done, hubby👍🏼

I told hubby not to use that road as it was the route used by the heroic cyclists every summer in July in the Le Tour de France cycling race.

So we diverted and took the road for vehicles ascending the limestone giant. It was a 21.5 km drive up the summit of Le Mont Ventoux. 

While we were nesting comfortably in our car, my admiration went out to the cyclists who made it on their own up the hellish terrain to the summit.

By the way, these photos were a static memory of the amateur and hobby cyclists we passed by during our drive up the majestic Le Mont Ventoux anno 2016 taken from my iPhone while hubby was driving 😃

In Memory Of A Cyclist …

We stopped at a memorial of Tom Simpson, a British professional cyclist, who collapsed and died during an ascent of Le Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France

Please google Tom Simpson’s wiki on the real cause of his death.

Planet Of The Sun Or The Wind …?

As the name might suggest, venteux (“Ventoux“) means windy.  It can get pretty windy at the summit, especially with the mistral, however, the temperature that day was a lovely 30 deg C, with a slight wind. It was a nice combination. 

While standing at the summit and looking down, the physical geography beneath looked like another planet.  It was breathtakingly stunning!

The limestone giant akaLe Mont Ventoux stands at 1,912 metres above the purple lavender-filled fields of Provence. 

I’m not sure why the signage indicated 1 metre shy, though? Do you?

The Little Market at Le Mont Ventoux 

I can now boast that I bought some bonbons at an altitude of 1,912 metres! Lol!

I also bought some fridge magnets that were exorbitantly priced! Eur 5 per piece of cheaply made magnets. Argghh!!

And a 50 cl bottle of still water had a price tag of Eur 2! That’s daylight robbery 😳

Before we left the mountain, my younger son wanted a custom minted coin of Le Mont Ventoux. He got what he wanted, but I wonder where it is now ….?!!🤔

One For The Road …

Yup, I’ve been up the Giant of Provence – my second “climb” – though not so heroically on the bicycle, but I have seen what I wanted to see in a long time 😉

The “walk” up the mountain with loads of vitamin D and the fabulous wind resulted in my sleeping so soundly that I did not realise how late we all got up the next morning.  

We went back in time …

Stay tuned!

Cheers!

It’s Friday. If you love flea markets, you will love the Friday market at Carpentras. This is one of the largest village markets in the Provence with 350 stalls or more set up each week on the town square, narrow roads and parking areas. We have been to Carpentras twice before in our previous trips during the Summer hols. We have never gotten tired of re-visiting the market – again – this summer!

Carpentras is 32 km from our holiday home. We arrived there rather late at around 11 am, thus, finding a parking space was a HUGE problem as most of the open-space parking areas in the centre of the town were reserved specially for the setting up of the stalls, making parking very squeezed and limited around the vicinity or the outskirts.

We finally found a parking area a bit far out of the centre at Parking area La Roseraie. We didn’t mind the walk through the Châteaux La Roseraie, a small park which is quite well maintained. The first thing we noticed when we got out of the parking area after crossing the road were the hand-painted boulders. I found lovable E.T. !  My younger son rushed to his Pikachu, which is synonymous to the current crazy game, Pokémon Go! Arghhh!

If you’re wondering what the lime green structure is, well, it’s a makeshift library. I noticed the books were well read with stained pages, flipped multiple times. Unfortunately, all books are in French …

When we reached the centre, the smell of local produce whiffed past our nostrils instantly, and the magnificent colour and sound are everywhere. For the locals, it’s their weekly shopping. For us, tourists, we were there to admire what we saw with memories captured on our lenses. I wished I could buy loads what were sold there, especially the handsome-looking garlics from Piolenc! But I had to remember that we would be travelling back home some 1,000 km in a few days. The smell of garlic in the heated trunk was not a good idea. Duh!

By the way, I did buy the more floral-scented items. The bouquet of dried lavender and sunflowers would look great in our newly bought porcelain Provençal cricket vase 😉

It would be a shame if we had left the Provence without buying the infamous artisanal soap bars, traditionally known as Savon de Marseille (soap from Marseille).  Traditionally, the soap bars came in the aroma of olive oil. Today, the soaps are made artisanally with extracts from seasonal plants, flowers, fruits, nuts, oils and herbs. Our favourites are lavender, jasmine, olive oil, rose petal and green tea. And that’s what I bought ! *big smile*

Oh yes, I noticed the same lady selling the soap bars at Carpentras was also at the Tuesday market at Vaison-la-Romaine 😊

We had been walking around quite a bit in the limited time we had before the 350 odd merchants called it a day by 1 pm.

When most of the stalls packed it in, we walked away from the market place and square, away from the maddening crowd and found ourselves perusing a board with the cheapest lunch deal ever!

I have never came across a complete meal comprising a starter, main course, dessert and a 25 cl glass of rosé wine at Eur 14 anywhere in Europe !!!  Let me know if you have paid lower than Eur 14 anywhere else? I’m talking about an eatery in Europe! 

I had Croque Monsieur with salad for starter. My main course was veal stew with basmati rice. Hubby had tagliatelle with scallops. Our dessert was tarte tartin.  It was nothing fancy, but for the price we paid, it was definitely worth it.

Oh by the way, the name of the brasserie-resto was La Cantina at Carpentras.

We left Carpentras with a smile on our face and a story to tell.  And I just did 😉

Our next stop that afternoon saw us heading to a totally different “planet”, which brought us nearer to the Sun…

I wonder …

See ya!

Cheers!


After gallivanting around the Tuesday village market at Vaison-la-Romaine until midday, we were famished. 

Jackpot!

Our search for a perfect lunch ended at the nearby Beaumes-de-Venise. We hadn’t a clue about La Part des Anges. We just followed our instinct, as the other restaurant we wanted to lunch at, was full house, hence, we walked a bit up a hilly slope and found a somewhat quiet road with several old and vacant shoplots or terraced houses. We saw several tables on the terrace were taken except for one with four chairs! It was our first eat-out meal in France since we arrived 3 days earlier, hence, we had hit an instant jackpot!

As if that wasn’t enough, we were being served with a fantastic local wine as aperitif, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from the local Domaine de Coyeux.

Remember Anton Ego from the Disney film, Ratatouille?  The Ratatouille he ate at Gusteau’s transported him back to his childhood?

Well, it was probably the same feeling my other half had when he had his first sip of the Muscat. It must have transported him back to a special occasion or reception he had attended once upon a time.🙂


By the way, hubby is a small collector of wines. I won’t call him a connoisseur of wines, but he seems to know his wines quite well, while I seem to know my grudges and complaints of him stockpiling bottles and crates of wines in our small cellar. Lol!

But, honestly speaking, I liked the Muscat, too. It’s a natural sweet wine and refreshingly fruity, so no prizes for guessing what comes up next on our agenda!

We drove to Domaine de Coyeux where I experienced my first wine-tasting. We tried 3 different seemingly similar wines, but they tasted different. A Muscadine is less sweet than a Muscat, and a Muscat from different years tasted different, too. 

To me, the Muscat tasted like the Sarawak tuak. Ha ha ha …!  But a more refined, fruity and clear tuak, and less sweet and heavy. I’m glad I’m not a sommelier. I would be fired immediately. Lol!

Like all Belgians who travelled all the way to France in search for good wines, my hubby bought half a dozen of the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from the grapes of Domaine de Coyeux, from the production year 2014.

By the way, Muscats cannot be kept too long. They last between 10 to 15 years, however, I don’t think the 6 bottles will age past the time stamp🙂

With the superb weather and a fulfilling day, we were all very tired. Luckily I could catch a siesta in the car while hubby was driving. The 2 boys were also dozing at the backseat. 

Home-working

To be honest, my real summer hols had not begun until I had submitted some reports from work. I knew I should not be working during my holidays, but it’s just me. I’d be freaking guilty if I had not distributed the forecast reports by timeline. 

I realised it was a real challenge for me to download all the reports. It took me ages because of the bad internet connection at our holiday home. The night before saw me hitting the sack at almost 2 am! I continued with my work the next day, thus, we had to re-shuffle our holiday itinerary. We all stayed home that  Wednesday. Ouch!

To make amends and peace with my ‘housemates’, I whipped up a tasty and rustic meal of spagbol, my version, plus mushroom soup.

While the guys were in the pool, I was juggling between working at my laptop and cooking the spagbol from scratch. Yup, multi-tasking is my middle name 😉. 

I knew there would be 3 very, very hungry tummies after the swim.  And I was right! So glad to see happy smileys on the guys’ faces gulping and downing the hefty spagbol🙂

It was back to work for me after lunch until I finished the reports at 7pm!

Some colleagues even noticed I was online and thought I was back from my hols! Nope!

I felt a huge relief when I clicked “send”. My reports were finally distributed, and my real Summer hols had just begun. Yay!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Domaine de Coyeux is just one of the hundred thousands of vineyards in France. Our next stop was at Château La Nerthe at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a region famous for its best wines. The journey of 24 km was strewn with vineyards with different types of grapes grown. I noticed the earth where the grape vines were grown was covered with small stones or pebbles and was rather dry. Perhaps that gave the best result to the wines, pressed from the best grapes of the region.

I was excited and was looking forward to another adventure of wine-tasting😀. We wine-tasted some of the red wines. I tasted only one type as I felt a bit tipsy from sipping the wine. 

By the way, the proper wine-tasting etiquette follows the following process: looking, swirling, smelling, tasting and savouring or the five “S” steps: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savour. 

I think I went straight to swallowing and had a big TKO instantly! *big grin*

One consolation though, it was nice and cool in the cellar of the wine-tasting area. When we walked out of the cellar door, we felt the gush of the August Summer heat. What a contrast!

Hubby bought half a dozen of the Château La Nerthe from the production year of 2013.

We left Château La Nerthe and drove to the centre of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in search for a decent meal.

After the successful lunch deal at Beaumes-de-Venise, we chose for the complete menu of  Eur 18 at Restaurant La Mule de Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

It was a good and simple lunch but in comparison, we still preferred the lunch deal at Beaumes-de-Venise for the same price tag.


Our day at Châteauneuf-du-Pape ended at Mason des Vins (House of wines) from 90 Domaines & Châteaux.

Did hubby buy any wines?  Erm… Let me guess… I think that was the silliest question. He bought 6 bottles of Moulin des Saints Rouge 

I felt tipsy just looking at the 4.5 kg extra weight (or 6 x 750 ml)!

 

After consuming a bit too much fermented grapes the past couple of hours, I slept like a baby, only to get up the following morn for another new adventure…

See ya!

Cheers from Sunny Provence!

Sunday arrived. We had 6 guests coming at 3 pm. I had no idea how to start or what to cook or prepare as there was zero inventory in the pantry, fridge and freezer! 

Luckily, the night before, we consulted the villa owner about supermarkets in the vicinity. He was very kind and provided us with an address. Brilliant! That was a good start.

Meanwhile my girlfriend, M, was sending me updates about her contingent and going through the names of who would be coming. I have met M’s husband as well their 2 daughters and have known the girls since they were tiny tots. They have now grown to be knockout beauties!

The 2 girls brought along their schoolmates and suddenly M had to be an instant Mum to 4 lovely ladies.

M is not just a friend. She was a former colleague. We both worked at Pfizer BE in the late 90’s. We now work in different companies and we still get to meet socially when we could with 2 other former colleagues for an all ladies’ day out. Check out this post Ladies’ Day Out.

Putting my Thinking Cap on …

Thanks to the villa owner who passed us the address of the Supermarket the night before. It was definitely easier visualising what to put on the table for our guests when we were at the supermarket.

French baguettes were a life saver! And they’re in abundance where we were. Phew

To go with the baguette, there’s soup. I also made sardine dip or side dish (with chopped chillies, shallots, spring onions, fresh coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper). This went perfectly with the baguette as well.

I made a 3rd plate of the refreshing yum woon sen (my own version of the Thai vermicelli salad).

Since it’s Summer hols, we didn’t go by any dining rules. Why bother? It’s not all about food, by the way; it’s meeting and greeting and having a sense of comradeship that’re more important. Chips, nuts and what-have-you nested happily on the serving table. 

And then there were 10 of us …

Our guests arrived on the dot. 3 pm sharp! Bravo. Well done, M!

It was great meeting up with M and her family again ~ and mind you ~ in France, more than 1,000 km away from our homes. So glad that our paths crossed this Summer hols. Everyone had a fantastic time in the pool or poolside and basking in the sun and just talked, oblivious to the passage of time. 

I couldn’t remember what time M and her family left. No one kept track of the time. When they finally left, suddenly our house became so quiet…

Sunday was a fulfilled day spent with friends. Monday was a day of rest, which helped a great lot in charging our mortal batteries for the next days.

Vaison-la-Romaine

We headed for the Tuesday markets at Vaison-la-Romaine, which was 22 km away. I love going to the markets in the Provence. There is at least one or more than one village market every day in the week. Vaison-la-Romaine is just one of them. Unfortunately, it’s not my favourite village market. I’ve seen better ones at Bonieux, a hilltop village in the Luberon region of Provence.

When going to one of the village markets, we had to make sure that we left early as all markets will call it a day by 1pm. 

We bought a huge loaf of pain fermie (sourdough loaf), which lasted for 2 and half days. This was considered as fast moving and would only happen during the Summer hols. Breads back home in Belgium would often go untouched, until they get mouldy on the 5th day. Lol!

The Best Cheap Lunch Deal Ever at Beaumes de Venise!

For a complete menu of Eur 18 per person, comprising of a starter, main course and dessert, I would recommend this address: La Part des Anges at Beaumes de Venise.

We were pleasantly surprised by the excellent presentation of every single plate served for an incredibly cheap lunch menu. 

Mind you, I had one of the best starters in a long time, Tiramisu Provençal. My main course was duck meat in raspberry sauce served with French fries and salad. My dessert was the refreshingly light and tangy lime panacotta. 

The tagliatelle carbonara was my younger son’s choice of main course, by the way.

Thumbs Up for a superb lunch👍🏼

We stayed on at Beaumes de Venise a bit longer because suddenly my other half was attracted to something …

Was it something or someone? Let’s find out, so stay tuned to Part 3…

Cheers!

When my family, friends and colleagues asked me where I would be going for my summer holidays this year, I just kept quiet and hinted to them to guess. It did not take long for them to come out with, “It’s got to be the South of France, right?

Right!

But…but…but France is a vast country, you know. France is not just only Paris, the Eiffel Tower and The Moulin Rouge, for heaven’s sake! 😉

There are a million and one places and locations to discover and explore. 

The reason we chose the southern part of France for our summer getaway is simple. We love the consistently warm and sunny weather, the colours of sunflower, lavender, the endless vineyards, the smell of fresh breads, long walking trails and the crazy mistral!

4 years ago, we were at Saint Rémy-de-Provence. We were back there again the year after.  We loved the location and the holiday home and had wanted to go back there this summer. Fortunately or unfortunately, the villa was taken during the weeks we had wanted to book. So we ended up at Lagarde-Paréol, a new location and discovery for us. It’s a small commune but a fabulous locus connecting to nearby cities, such as Orange, Avignon, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Carpentras, Le Mont Ventoux, St Rémy de Provence and Arles to name but a few.

A week before our planned summer hols, hubby said he would like to leave at 3 am. Very ambitious of him, I thought. Anyway, I knew why he wanted to leave that early: it’s cooler and definitely less cars on the roads. After all, we’re taking his car and he was the driver *wink*

Since I had to work the entire week before we left on Saturday morning at the crazy hour my other half was suggesting, I was rushing through my packing checklist on Friday evening making sure not to miss anything out.

I finally finished packing our “brunch bags” at 1.20am on Saturday morning!  And gosh, I was not even sleepy. Definitely a carry over of my hoot owl shift biological clock😳


I tried to hit the sack at 1.30 am on the morning of our supposed departure at 3 am, but only to get up at 4 am!! I noticed the guys were still in bed!

Oh-oh… there goes our ambitious ETD at 3 am! Lol!

I guess the noise I made in the bathroom woke the guys up.

And we finally left at 5.30 am …

Just Another Black Saturday

Although the Saturday we left was not a Black Saturday, but we definitely felt like it. The first traffic jam started at midday at Lyon but luckily that lasted for only half an hour. The subsequent traffic jam lasted for 2 hours starting from Bourg-Les Valence at almost 3 pm. 

We had been travelling for almost 1k km and the traffic jam on the highway coupled with the scorching sun did not do justice. It was not a pretty sight either, especially when we had to drive bumper-to-bumper at most instances. I felt choked surrounded by cars, mobile homes, trailers and jeeps from holiday-makers from neighbouring European countries and the U.K. 

I wished we had reached our ultimate destination …

At almost 5 pm, we noticed a huge transformation of sceneries and backdrops. 

There were miles and miles of vineyards and the narrow road leading to our holiday home was breathtakingly beautiful. We spotted the majestic Le Mont Ventoux immediately.

Our ultimate stop and destination was a sight to behold; just as they appeared on the website. Peace and tranquility, and the spacious swimming pool and al fresco dining area with a bar, bbq and cooking area. OMG! What more can I say? It was picture perfect!

The 2-hour traffic jam was immediately ancient history. 

As if there’s no tomorrow, the boys headed for the pool as soon as we arrived. It was a cool dip for them after being trapped in the heat all afternoon long.

By the way, my older son’s bedroom overlooks the majestic Le Mont Ventoux. I had wanted that room, but it’s not a master bedroom. Too bad …😦

A Transformed Meal

It was a Saturday evening when we arrived. I had carried with me 4 Aiki noodles cups, some left-over veg, onions, shallots, chillies, ginger, curry powder and a packet of smoked Polish sausage some 1,000 km from Belgium to France, and transformed a student’s instant noodle meal into a more appetising and substantial meal. 

Et voila!


That evening, I received messages on my whatsApp from a girlfriend. She and her family were staying at Arles and she wanted to visit us after touring Avignon.

And here’s what she wrote …

Just back from concert & dinner. If it’s OK with you, we would arrive around 15:00. We will visit Avignon first and bring along some saucissons secs from Lyon, tapenades, rillettes and flammekuches from Arles & wine  from Avignon (& bikinis) 😀. I will have no internet on the way. So sms would be the cheapest way to connect. See you tomorrow. P/S there will be 6 of us.”.

Golly gosh… We had nothing in the fridge, and neither, the pantry!!!  

And tomorrow’s Sunday!!!

Now, could I manage to accommodate 6 guests with zero level inventory in the kitchen, fridge and freezer?

Stay tuned to Part 2 …

Cheers!