This was to be one of the best days of my travels. Provence is truly beautiful!
So upon waking, we settled for breakfast at the hotel. It was about 8 or 9 euros per pax. There was fruit juice, milk, toasts and some croissants. To be honest, for the price paid, I expected warm croissants at least. But 😦 , we had a cold breakfast. Well, save for a cup of tea we had. So in the dining room, we pored over the map and tried to fix our itinerary for the day. My reading for the trip suggested the following places: L’isle-sur-la-Sorge, Fontaine de Vancluse, Abbaye de Senanque, Roussillion, Orange, Carpentras, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Manosque, Gordes, Les Baux and St-Remy-de-Provence. I know, too many places with too little time right? We only had 3 nights in Provence. 😥 Way too little time.
The lady owner came to us and suggested places we could go. She suggested for today, we could go to L’isle-sur-la-Sorge, have lunch in Fontaine de Vancluse, Gordes, Abbaye de Senanque and Roussillon. She said there’s nothing much in Carpentras and Manosque. I admit, the main reason why I wanted to go Manosque was because I thought I could get cheaper L’occitane products 😳 since it originates from there. 😳
So we asked for the lady to please help us rent a car and she called a local rental agency and the best rate we managed to get was something like 80 euros per day. For a manual transmission. Automatic transmission costs about 140 euros? Anyway, we should have booked the car earlier to get a better rate. 😐
So a staff from the car rental company came to pick us up to go to their location which was about 5 mins drive. So we proceeded to do the paperwork and the staff asked for my husband’s driving licence. Now, I suppose us Singaporeans are super pampered and take a lot for granted. He produced his Singapore driving licence. The staff said ‘We need an international driving licence’. 😯 Seriously, it hadn’t crossed our mind to get an IDL because well, Singapore driving licence is an international driving licence. And we said pretty much the same to the guy. One thing I’m really glad is that telephones work very well in France. So he picked up the phone and had a very short conversation and upon hanging up the call, he said ‘Okay, this is okay this time’. Phew!
So we got our car and proceeded to drive. In Singapore we drive on the left-hand side and in France, its a right-hand side drive. That’s fine because we had driven in American before on the other side of the drive. One smart thing we did was we brought our own GPS with the downloaded France map and got it started ASAP. But because we needed to get used to driving on the other side, Nick did some practicing in a small carpark. And we then we took a wrong turn and ended up in a gantry for an entrance to some place. So we needed to reverse the car. But no matter how we moved the gear stick, the car was not reversing! 😡
Nick then figured out the button on the gear stick had to be pressed for the reverse function to work and it worked! 😛 My husband’s awesome! Haha, I was getting into a panic mode by then. 😛
So first stop: L’isle-sur-la-Sorge. This is a town for antiques dealing. It was a quaint town, but it didn’t make us go wow.
We found a relatively big car park beside this building.
There’s a lovely stream through the town. Makes the town so much prettier. 🙂
Small streets which we didn’t spend too much time on.
Love the colours in the buildings! 🙂
There’s water coming out from this but I think it is not potable.
And we were almost done with L’isle-sur-la-Sorge by an hour. Back to another part of the stream. It is amazing how clear the water is! And how well the aquatic plants are thriving! Love this stream!
And I think this is a rather famous waterwheel. Not quite sure why. It was covered with moss and really, couldn’t quite see the beauty of it.
So, next, we went to Fontaine-de-Vancluse, to check out the mystery of the source of the spring.
On the way to Fontaine-de-Vancluse, we saw this. I believe it to be an aqueduct.
When we reached Fontaine-de-Vancluse, it was time for lunch and we simply chose a restaurant for lunch.
My little French phrase book I borrowed from the library didn’t help much in deciphering the menu and the waitress couldn’t speak English, so we briefly had an idea of what kind of meat we were getting, just unsure how it was cooked. Luckily our lunch turned our fine, although we had no idea what we were eating at times. I suppose that’s when ignorance is bliss. 😉
A salad to start lunch.
No idea what were the ingredients for the colourful food. Down the mouth, oesophagus and stomach it went too! 😆
Our mains: I had fish and Nick thought he’s having some kind of kebab. Well I suppose what he had could pass for a kebab except it wasn’t the kebab we had in mind. 😯
I liked the fish and mushrooms a lot! No idea what the greenish stuff was but still ate it anyway. 😎
And i think we both got the chocolate fondant. I had expected a different kind of fondant and sad to say, I didn’t encounter a chocolate fondant to die for during this trip in France.
So with our stomach filled, we went to check out the mystery source of the spring. This is the spring we saw as we walked towards the mysterious source.
Backdrop of mountains:
We had companions during our ‘trek’ to the source. Cute! 😛
Hmmm, we don’t know any french…. 😐 If I remembered correctly, the guidebook mentioned that while the source of the spring was found, the exact location was still unclear.
Well, it was a bit of an anti-climax to find that the mysterious source was just that. 🙄
On our way back, we came upon shops whereby we bought quite a number of lavender pouches as souvenirs. 🙂
And so we walked back to the carpark and along the way, we came upon a blue door.
Heh, there’s nothing to it, but just a blue door! 😈
The next town on the itinerary was Gordes. But along the way, we came across Musee de la Lavende. And since a big objective of the trip was to see lavender fields in Provence, we decided to make a stop and get more lavender souvenirs! 😉
A walk round the back and we got this lovely picture. 🙂
The lavender around the museum was not in full bloom yet. Still it served as a temptation. So we decided to head to Abbaye de Senanque first and then to Gordes afterwards.
There is a short distance from the car park to the monastery. As we walked towards the monastery, we were, however, not greeted by a lavender. In fact, the grounds look a bit barren. I reckoned the lavender had either been harvested or will bloom later on in August.
Hmmm, I had expected to see this:
Sigh! We proceeded towards the abbaye and found that most sections were closed and what was opened wasn’t that interesting. The bookstore was opened so we got some postcards from there.
The monastery exudes a very calm and peaceful atmosphere.
Then we were supposed to go to Gordes. But we came upon Roussillon first and decided to enjoy it first.
Roussillon is such a pretty town! I love it! 🙂
It was amazing to see the ochre rocks. I keep thinking of them as red clay. 😐
Such a lovely cluster of houses!
Unfortunately, the ochre trail was closing by the time we reached the entrance! 😡
This means in 2012, when we return to Provence, we will have to visit Roussillon again! 😀
The houses in Roussillon were painted in various pastel colours, making the town looking dainty and pretty. My kind of town! 😛
Clouds were gathering and drops of raining were coming down. So we left Roussillon and decided to head back to Avignon. Gordes would have to wait another time. 😐
And as we drove down Roussillon, we saw a car by the road and Nick stopped our car too. I quickly realised why. This was why.
Even though there was no beautiful blue sky in the background, the grey clouds that had gathered made the picture a wee bit dramatic with a totally different tone from the lavender pictures I’ve seen on the internet. Still, we were very happy to have come across this field of lavender. This totally made up for the disappointment we had at Abbaye de Senanque. 😀
What a great way to end the day!