Thursday, October 14, 2010

bathroom in a cave

Well, I'll be honest; today was pretty spectacular. We were up with the sun but had no firm plans for the day, so we asked the hotel manager for some recommendations. Out came a map and a pen, and he described a handful of nearby villages that we might find interesting. So off we went.

First stop was Roussillon, which was maybe a 15 minute drive from Gordes. Amazing place. Like Gordes, it's essentially a town built into the side one of a rocky hill, with an expansive valley of farms and vineyards below it. Roussillon is known as an 'ochre' town, so the entire town takes its palette from the red earth of the surrounding hilltops. And no joke, we even saw an ochre 'swatch' wall on a building under construction. Narrow, uneven roads cut through the town randomly, barely wide enough for a vehicle most of the time. Occasionally we came across a set of steep stone steps providing a shortcut straight up to a higher level of the village. The roots of these places go back hundreds and hundreds of years, so it's pretty amazing to experience. We checked out the market and Leslie got herself a scarf so she could fit in better with the locals. :)

After taking in Roussillon for a couple of hours, we made our way to Bonnieux, which is officially one of the "most beautiful villages in all of France." It did not disappoint. Much like Roussillon, it offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside, and many points of interest within the city walls.

We had a nice late lunch here, and then headed out to find a vinyard.

Ten minutes later, we were in Chateau la Canorgue, tasting wines. It is located just outside of
Bonniex, and its estates included a castle where the owners lived. How cool is that? (Leslie thought it was tres cool)

Last, we hit Menerbes, which again was similar to Roussillon/Bonnieux, but unique in its own way. We soaked in the views from the top of the village, but our feet were starting to get sore from the climbs so we headed back to Gordes.

On our way back, we made one final detour; we stopped at an old (11th-century) Abbey (Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire). It may have been isolated, but man it had one spectacular view. And P.S. Leslie found a bathroom in a cave. Yes, a flush toilet built into the side of a cliff. But no toilet paper. That's another story.

Now we're back at the hotel, which doubles as a restaurant, having dinner and resting our feet.

Tomorrow: St-Laurent de Verdon.


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