Planning the itinerary of this very day was a major headache for me. With Avignon as our base, we could go back to the villages in Vancluse that we had missed out last year or attempt villages even further out in the Vancluse department. I was so very tempted to visit Gordes, apparently one of the most beautiful villages in Provence ( besides Roussillon of course!), and the Village de bories. However to do so would mean passing by the villages we had passed by last year and that seemed a wee bit futile. And in doing so, we wouldn’t be able to go as far as Mont Ventoux, which was on my list last year.
However, on this very morning, I had decided that seeing Roussillon again was good enough for us. So I decided to make Mont Ventoux the highlight of today’s sightseeing.
So the route for today was: Avignon – Pernes les Fontaines – Sault (hoping for some lavender sighting) – Mont Ventoux – Seguret – Avignon. Unfortunately I don’t think we could pack in Vaison la Romaine. I had hoped to be able to visit the small villages near Seguret too.
While getting to our car, we got breakfast. By golly, it was only our 4th day in France and I’m sure I was piling on the calories rapidly. But how could one say no to breakfast like this? 😯
So, first stop was Pernes les Fontaines. In the guidebook, this village was portrayed as a quaint village with about 40 fountains in the village. And the impression I had was there’s definitely some outstanding fountains there.
As always, when we reached Pernes les Fontaines, we looked for a car park for the car. We chanced upon a car park with a blue zone whereby the lots were colored with bordered with blue lines, similar to what we had encountered in Sainte Marie de la Mer. We decided to just park there first while we head to the tourist office adjacent to the car park.
And at the tourist office, we met a really friendly staff who provided us with loads of brochures and information on Pernes les Fontaines. She said the blue lots are available for parking but a parking disc is required. ‘Madame and Monsieur don’t have the parking disc? Its okay, I will give you one.’ She proceeded to explain how the parking disc works. There’s a ‘clock’ on the disc whereby we have to set the time at which we parked the car. The disc is valid for for one hour thereafter. She then said the parking is valid for an hour but if we park exceed the time, its okay, but the disc allows for parking for only one hour. 😕 So I was quite confused about that part. In the end, we decided that if need be, we’ll return to the car after the hour is up and just set the ‘clock’ right for the next hour. 😛 Finally when she sent us on our way to tour Pernes les Fontaines, she said the water from the fountains are potable. Okay, that was duly noted but we weren’t quite convinced our tummy would be safe. 😮 One can’t be too safe in a foreign country where language is foreign too.
In Pernes les Fontaines, the trails are marked. We just have to look out for arrow signs and follow the direction accordingly.
So we came across quite a number of fountains. But, if you were to ask me on any memorable ones, I don’t think I’ve seen any truly outstanding ones. The thing about sightseeing is if there’s nothing truly spectacular, after a while, all the fountains look similar. This applies to everthing: greenery, Roman structures and architecture. Therein lies the risk of sightseeing fatigue.
Maybe there are truly spectacular outstanding fountains in the village but we just didn’t come across any. 😯 And so, we entered the zone of fountain sightseeing fatigue.
So we started taking in sights other than fountains. 😛
A small simple chapel.
We came across a tower and decided to see if it is accessible. It was and we climbed up as far we could.
There’s a clock on the tower but I’m not sure if it is telling the time accurately.
We are always fascinated with the coloured windows and doors. 😀
One last fountain and we were done!
In addition, the village is very quiet. I think we spotted only 3 or 4 pairs of tourists besides us. I like quiet but it was a bit too quiet there.
So we decided to have find lunch before heading to Sault in case we can’t find food there. At the point, I wasn’t sure if Sault is a village or is it an area where there’s just lots of lavender fields. While we were walking around looking for a place for lunch, we passed by a group of female teenagers at a square. They kept looking at us, probably they don’t see many Asians around. Then just as we were leaving the square, a girl called out ‘Hello!’ At first we didn’t respond because we weren’t sure if they were speaking to us since ‘Hello’ and ‘Allo’ sounds similar. But this was followed up with more ‘Hello!’. We were the only people around, 5 of us, me and my husband, and three local girls. We were not keen to strike up any conversation, with the place being dead quiet. But it would be totally rude not to respond. So I returned a ‘Bonjour. Au revoir’ with a quick wave and got out of there. What was funny about this encounter was the response of the girl who said ‘Hello’. She was stunned I responded in French and turned back to her friends and said something to the effect like ‘They speak French!!??!!’ We must have seemed like weird Asians to them.
Then along a small lane, there was a man enjoying time at his window from his residence and then said ‘Konichiwa.’ That’s ‘hello’ in Japanese. We had to respond ‘Konichiwa’ back and left him thinking we are Japanese. He was actually quite proud that he spoke Japanese, albeit just a word of it, because he was giving himself thumbs up sign. 😀
We were about to give up on finding a suitable place for lunch when the husband spotted a small restaurant by the road. So we headed in and got seated. We didn’t want to have a heavy lunch so the salads on the menu posted outside the restaurant had attracted us. So we decided to have the same salad each and a main to share.
The salads were huge! and Yummy! The husband accepted the praise I loaded on him in choosing the right restaurant. And for the main, we wanted to get some meat but none of the translations on my phone worked right and we chose something from the menu that was roughly translated to be meat.
So our ‘meat’ turned out to be a sausage…..of innards. And we both don’t eat innards. 😐
But if one does appreciate innards, then this sausage would be delicious.
After a satisfactory lunch, we headed to Sault, which is a long drive away. Along the way, we noted an interesting contraption used when road works were being carried out.
We do not have this in Singapore. Instead, what we have are workers standing at the road, one on each end, holding up ‘STOP/GO’ signage. Upon seeing this automated system in France, I can’t help feeling how primitive the Singapore system is.
Did I mention Sault was a long drive away? The roads seemed never ending. But we enjoyed driving on long stretches of roads, what we do not have in Singapore. 😎
Sault is an area where there is widespread cultivation of lavender. I had thought that Sault is an area and not a village and I was wrong. Sault is actually a small village.
Of course, there are plenty of shops selling lovely lavender. Wish we could buy bunches of lavender back home but they would be crushed in the luggage. We made do with packed lavender.
There is nothing much exciting in Sault except for a panoramic view of the lavender fields from the hilltop opposite the tourist centre.
We went into the tourist centre in Sault and I asked about the market which was supposed to held every Wednesdays (and it was a Wednesday). ‘Ah, sorry Madame, the market had closed already. It is only in the morning’, said the pretty friendly French lady at the counter. I don’t know why people say the French are rude and unfriendly. So far, we’ve met really nice ones. 😀 Then I asked about lavender fields and she said as Sault is on elevated ground, the lavender in Sault bloom later. She did suggest some places we could go for lavender sighting but we were not going to ‘chase’ after lavender since we had seen some last year. I asked about Mont Ventoux and she gave us very clear directions. In addition, she provided us with some really nice maps which showed clearly the villages with corresponding tourist attractions in the Vancluse region. These maps would be very helpful should we decide to return again next year.
As we descended from Sault, we came across a field with what seemed like lavender!! The husband quickly pulled over and we walked towards the flowers.
At first sight, the field seemed to be a lavender field. But something about the colour did not seem quite right. Still, the way the flowers were planted were similar to the way lavender is planted, ie in rows.
Upon closer inspection, these were indeed not lavender.
This is definitely a lavender field, albeit one that has not bloomed yet.
Onwards with our journey to Mont Ventoux. The day was getting cloudy and as we inched closer to Mont Ventoux, it got even cloudier.
And alot of cyclists were heading to Mont Ventoux. Mont Ventoux is apparently a stop for Tour de France, so one could expect lots of cyclists.
We drove amongst the clouds! 😛
I really admire the will and persistence of the cyclists!! I was all tired from the drive from Sault to Mont Ventoux, and I was a passenger in the car! The road was truly long and winding and ascending! 😯
Finally, after what seemed like a very long drive, we reached the summit!
It was very cold up at the summit. It was a low single digit and we were freezing! It was 20 something degree celsius at ground level and we were not expecting the cold on at the summit. But this dog was not affected by the cold at all, it seemed. 😉
Part of the S-pin loop for ascending Mont Ventoux.
View of Mont Ventoux from a distance.
By the time we reached Seguret, it was about 5 plus. We parked in the first car park we came across. There are actually more car parks as one head further in. Seguret and the villages nearby are all rather famous for their wine.
At first sight, Seguret seemed like a very quiet village. But we thought we would see more people when we go further into the village.
If Seguret was a bit more lively, I’m sure it would be a very charming village. However, while we were there, most of the shops were closed except for a couple of art galleries.
You can see the prettiness of Seguret in this picture. The girls were very happy to get their ice cream 🙂
We then headed up a slope where we got some really nice views. I could only imagine how spectacular the view would be on a day with clear blue skies. Pictures really doesn’t do Provence much justice.
As we headed down, we came across them. 😆 Besties, I suppose.
The scenery when we left Seguret was lovely because from the road we were on, we could see Dentelles, a range of mountains. I had hoped that we would have time to go to a village closer to the Dentelles for a better view of the mountains but it was not to be. 😦
As we had made a dinner reservation at Au Tout Petit the night before at 7.30 pm, and it was a long drive back to Avignon, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Seguret.
We were one of the early diners at Au Tout Petite and we quickly placed our order. For starters, I had salmon carpaccio. I had loads of salmon during this trip. I love salmon. 😳
The husband got a soup which might have contained some foie gras (I think). I forgot to ‘warn’ him that soup in France during this time of the year is usually cold. I thought his soup was quite interesting but he was not very impressed.
I remembered how good the fish was when we ate at Au Tout Petite last year and I was determined to get the fish for mains this time round.
Hmmmm, the fish wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t very well seasoned, so it tasted a bit bland. 🙄
The husband got……turkey curry! That was a most unexpected choice! Why? Because I don’t quite trust Europeans to get the taste of curry right and whoever cooked turkey in curry??
The dish didn’t turn out to be a disaster. I thought the curry wasn’t too badly done but the husband has always had high standards for curry, so he didn’t think much of the dish. Well, I didn’t rub salt into his wound by saying ‘Whadda ya expect? Curry in France?!?!’ 😈
For desserts, I got a raspberry cake while he got caramelised pineapples. I liked the raspberry cake as it wasn’t too sweet and was nicely tangy, just for my taste. The ice cream that came with the desserts were fabulous!
So while I was a bit disappointed with the meal, the husband was seriously disappointed. The food wasn’t that bad, just that we had a much better meal last year. 😕
Again, we walked back to the hotel in the dark and I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sadness, with this being our last night in Provence, and with no plans to return in the immediate future. I do love Provence.