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Provence, 2014

Here are some photos from a quick road trip we took to Provence in June of 2014. Keewi has put up several posts about it on her blog, starting with this one, so I won't go into a whole lot of descriptive detail.

The "original" photos linked to in this set are reduced size, in fact, so contact me if you want a true original. Also, I would note that almost all of the photos posted here have been digitally manipulated, but mostly just adjustments to brightness and contrast; the colors of the lavender and the ochre in Provence really are this vivid!
Day One
The first day, we drove from Montpellier and stopped in Lourmarin for lunch. These first photos are from the vicinity of the Château Lourmarin, the grounds of which were quite pretty (we didn't go inside, since it was quite overpriced).
Then onward to Apt, where we checked into our hotel, and then on to Sault; these photos are on the road en route.
Then to Valensole, where we found some lovely lavender fields. The middle photo is overexposed, but it rather conveys the hazy, blazing sunshine we were enveloped in!
Then to back to Apt, with some wheat and sunflowers along the way.
Day Two
The next day we spent more time inside various towns. We started in Ménerbes, the town where Peter Mayle famously spent his year in Provence. It was absolutely wonderful, one of the nicest towns we found in Provence. Much less overrun by tourists than we expected, too.
Now we are in Oppède-le-Vieux, a tiny town with an old church and ruins above it. Actually the last photo above is the beginning of the path up to the church and ruins. We stumbled on this town by driving around somewhat randomly, heading toward some scenic-looking hills. A nice detour.
Now we're driving to our dinner spot, a restaurant called Sanglier Paresseux, in Caseneuve. Great food and a fantastic view; highly recommended. We had a beautiful sunset during our dinner; the last two photos were taken a few feet from our table.
Day Three
Thanks to a little tourism leaflet we picked up somewhere, we spent our third day mostly in pursuit of ochre. I didn't know this before our trip, but Provence has several famous sites where ochre, a colored earth that can be used to manufacture paints and dyes, has been mined since before the dawn of history. We started off in Roussillon, a lovely town with a great market. The ochre site didn't open until 9 AM (although the first photo was taken from just outside its gate), so we spent a while wandering in the town and doing a little shopping in the fantastic Roussillon market.
And then: ochre! It really does look like this.
Onward toward Lioux, with more lovely lavender fields along the way.
And then to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt, a town with more beautiful ruins above it.
And on to Lacoste. The Marquis de Sade used to live in Lacoste, and the last three photos are taken from the ruins of his house, which has some statues in his memory, interestingly. (Would an American city with such a colorful figure in its history do this, I wonder?)
Now back to ochre. These are from a spot called Colorado Provençal. It was a hard spot to find, due to inadequate signage, and that was a foreshadowing of how easy it was to get lost on the trails there, too. We actually did get quite thoroughly lost, and for a while I was really afraid that we were going to spend the night in the woods; but eventually we got back on track and made it back out. A word to the wise: the map they give you is really bad. Nevertheless; it was an amazing place, rather different from the ochre cliffs at Roussillon.
Day Four
One the fourth day we had to drive back home. These first photos are from Gordes, which was along the way. It was underwhelming.
We were so disappointed in Gordes that we almost skipped our next planned stop, but then we didn't. This is Fontaine de Vaucluse. Very touristy, but quite interesting. We've seen several paintings of this spot in various art museums, which made us curious to visit it. The spring was at low flow (I guess it varies a lot), but it was still quite pretty. The water was filled with an underwater plant that looked perhaps like submerged willow trees (but probably wasn't); strange, but it gave the water a beautiful green color.
And then onward to Montpellier, with only a stop in Avignon to buy a couple of boxes of beer from a local brewery. And then a bunch of shopping at the Odysseum, since we had the car until that night. And then collapse.

These images copyright © 2014 Ben Haller. All rights reserved.