Summer

the villages of the drôme provençale

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this summer heat has got me thinking about one year ago on our holiday in provence. i wrote a little bit about the stay at our cottage in the drôme region and a day in arles, but nothing much about the many, many provençal villages we visited. 
the most known area of provence is perhaps the luberon, thanks to the popularity of a year in provence by peter mayle (a book which i highly, highly recommend if you’re going to provence at all), but we ended up staying in the northern drôme (southeastern france about halfway between marseilles and lyon) which was even more beautiful than i ever could have imagined.

every day we would visit one of the villages around us, once on foot but usually by car, as the only village close enough to walk to on foot was roussas. that was the first village we visited, and oh, what a beauty she is. on top of a hill, there isn’t much in roussas except for residences but the views were absolutely fantastic – lavender fields, vineyards and rolling hills as far as the eye could see.

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then there was grignan – the nearest town to us and even more of a beauty! on the approach, you can’t help but notice the castle perched on a hill, surrounded by lavender fields. incredible. we hadn’t even planned this, it’s just that the northern

drôme

provençale is just that good. the first time we went into grignan, we drove right in to the town center. it was quite funny because this was alex’s first real “european driving experience”. by that i mean the real, old-world europe – tiny, cobblestone streets, minuscule parking spots.

i read him the GPS instructions: “go straight, i guess”.
“like, straight into
here?” [the most compact, cobblestone lane you could imagine]
“…it seems that way”.

we popped in just to ask for some tourist information at the TI, and were taken aback that we could barely communicate in english with them. i really am not being one those tourists that tries to get by with english everywhere, but you’d think… just maybe… at a tourist office? not really in the rural

drôme! it was the first indication of many that this region was typically touristed by french only.

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grignan is a delightful place to wander the streets and take in a lunch at a pizzeria. i can never forget the feeling of the bright hot heat, tucking into a table in the shadows, ferdie sleeping underneath the table, and repeat. very often, we prepared meals at our cottage, but i definitely wanted to have a few dining experiences out.

there were countless other villages that we popped into, parked at their square and strolled around a bit. i wouldn’t even know their names, just that they looked nice from afar, so why not?

there was the morning we went to saint-paul-trois-châteaux

because we were waiting for ferdie’s procedure at the vet’s. (more on that at this post) we hadn’t even intended to come here, but the fact that we had business there gave us a great reason to get gelato and wander the streets to the town center, as charming as any other.

later that same afternoon, we drove just a little to get to nyons, probably about 45 minutes east of where we were staying, and had a lovely time getting to know the olive oil capital of france! (and of course, a stop by the olive cooperative to pick up some very necessary souvenirs, like the most extra extra virgin olive oil you ever did taste and some soap, some olives for mum)

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{salade niçoise, when in provence….}

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nyons surprised me with its absolutely gorgeous river; the color, stunning, making me wish i had my swimsuit like the other more fortunate people on this broiling hot late june day. we walked around with our drugged dog, taking lunch at the most inviting cafe on a small square.

after awhile, a man leaned over and remarked about our dog: “he is very quiet, no?”
“well, you see, he’s a bit …drugged…..”

really great way to meet friends!

all in all, the feelings and sensations i remember the most about our summer in the

drôme provençale: white hot heat. the joy of fresh apricot juice. the smell of rosemary in the evenings and early mornings. belgian beers. the clink of the pétanque

balls. the sight of tiny but growing figs, which i had never seen before. cacti. orange poppies, swaying in the mistral breeze. cheese, bread, salami, SO MUCH BREAD. world cup matches on tv. sitting at a table on a light stone sidewalk, always with a dog under the table. icy cold rosé.

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how does every stinking village look this stupidly beautiful?

it was simply one of the best vacations i’ve ever taken. i already can’t wait to explore more of france! although the cities can be fun, the countryside is where i’ll remain!

we’re about to go on a little film festival holiday ourselves – catch you later next week! 

ps, more provence posts? check out the first post and our little cottage or one day in arles.

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