Tuesday, 17 June 2014

L’Isle sur la Sorgue (Part 1) June 13-17

We stayed a week at this pretty town in 2008 and loved it, so decided to return for the last hurrah. We won’t be back this way again given age and infirmities!  It was a quick run from Vaison but very muddled in the town when we arrived; lots of closed off roads that really confused the GPS, though all was made good with help from the Tourist Information Office. Parking is at a premium even in the little square near the apartment, Place de la Juiverie. Much busier than we remember and more cars in the town centre it seems.

So we ensconced ourselves in an apartment in a 16th century building, up one flight of a spiral staircase. Lovely big bedroom with traces of stucco decoration in what was a semi-oval room, huge dining table (and we live at tables, reading, writing, using the laptop, eating; it is our preferred space); spare bed room/sitting room, more than workable kitchen, washing machine, good bathroom. The loo is off the kitchen/laundry rather than the bedroom but fine to get to. A/C and heating too and lots of things hidden in cupboards. The undulating 16th century floor was rather a surprise but we quickly got used to it.  The apartment is in a cul de sac, so private.There is no view or outside terrace but plenty of living space.  No guaranteed parking. http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/l-isle-sur-la-sorgue/168611
Downside was the wifi was unexpectedly stuffed by Orange and was not reinstated during our stay, despite the best efforts of the people on the spot. We used the local Cafe de France or the Tourist Office but it was an annoyance, especially as we had banking to do and a brand new grandson born in Australia to follow up on.

Having been three times to the area in the past, it wasn’t going to be new discoveries but revisiting old favourites in the main. The rest of the first day was buying our groceries (local SPAR very close, local boucherie/traiteur excellent), settling in and choosing a restaurant for lunch and the evening meal. We ate at L’Isle o Delice for lunch where a Provencale assiette was just the light food needed. For the evening we chose L’Art de Vivre and had a lovely meal with good service. The next day was spent reacquainting ourselves with the town, visiting the OTT Collegiate church with its baroque decoration, walking along the canals and back streets and trying to settle the wifi problem using on the spot troubleshooters who could at least talk to Orange in French. We also adopted the iconic Café de France as our local bar, not only because it has good beer and café crème but because it has free wifi.

a canal and wheel
a canal view
Part of the river
a cafeCafe de France
a shops
Old porch house facades
a wall painting
Tromp l’oeil wall
a support
Cast iron bracket
a vine on wall
Dead vine patterns a wall
a collegiate
The collegiate church
a evangelist
John the evangelist
a waterwheels_edited-1
Wheels along the street
a waterweed3
Water weed patterns
a 2cv
Handsome 2CV

Then Sunday was market day. We got in nice and early and sussed out the prices and quality of cheeses, salads, gorgeous strawberries, melons, raspberries, cherries, lettuce, tomatoes, bread, terrine, lavender  honey and wine, and of course a rotisseried chicken, all of which we bought. Alas, no flowers though they are at the Thursday markets! I recall huge bunches of roses in front of Cafe de France last trip and had dreams of filling the apartment. That will have to wait for Paris where I can buy paeonies again. Chook and salad for dinner with raspberries and raspberry fruit paste @ E69/kilo. I bought a very thin slice indeed but it was delicious.

a cheese
a cherries
Cherries at their peak
a chooks
Not our dinner chook but holders for plastic supermarket bags
Next day, off to St Remy which we hadn’t visited before. A pretty town with a very strange church; all portico and columns in front and a barrel vault with stained glass inside, attached to an 11th century bell tower. A disaster in 1824 destroyed all but the bell tower. There is a lovely organ as well. The village was pretty but very touristy with non-French accents predominating, mostly German and American. I bought some lovely Piccoline olive oil from a producers shop for Moulin du Calanquet before turning 180 degrees and having a delicious meal on a charming patio at L’Aile ou la Cuisse, the highlight being a pastry from the pastry case in the front window. Sigh! Chocolate seemed to predominate in our choices. I wouldn’t say the rest of the meal was faultless, the twice shelled broadbeans and roast tomatoes were a nice touch with my fish, but stone cold. Umm, you are supposed to reheat them!

sr arch
A St Remy street
a st r organ
The organ and curved roof, inset with stained glass
sr window
A pretty trompe l’oeil window
Onto Les Baux. One look at the buses and cars parked and the uphill climb to the village decided us. Not there, especially with Nick’s breathing difficulties. Instead we re-visited Les Carriers Lumieres which we last knew as Cathedral des Images. (For those who don’t know, this is a continuous video and music presentation in under the hill excavated caverns of bauxite mines. The walls are flat and floor and walls are projected with images while music plays). The subject was Klimpt and the Vienna school and it was absolutely sumptuous. We were immersed both in sight and in sound, they choreographed the art so it flowed from one image to another or grew from parts to a whole. The view differed from different parts of the quarry so that we ended up seeing it through again from a different viewpoint. An absolute highlight! My camera battery died taking photos here for over an hour.

c entrance
Part of the mine 

ci the kiss  The Kiss
CI 1 CI 2 ci10
CI4 CI5 CI romeo juliet
ci6 ci7 ci11
ci12 ci9 CI3

We followed this with Tarascon Castle, a mighty fortress on the Rhone. We had stopped there before but never entered more than the garden level. It towers over the town and I am proud to say we managed to get to the top and view the landscape from the terrace there. Mostly Renaissance in concept, it had comfortable rooms, but was also used as a prison, and there are prison graffiti. There are no furnishings now, but some descriptions of what was there before. The tiled floors and huge fireplaces give some idea of the grandeur. Well worth the visit and the climb was good for our cardio-pulmonary systems. I needed Nick’s photos here. my camera having died valiantly in the Quarries of Light.

n tarascon plan
Plan of the castle

N Tarascon garden
The medieval gardens
n tarascon size
The bulk of the castle

N Tarascon
The castle from the internal gardens
N tarascon stair
The spiral stair we climbed
N tarascon view
Proof: the view from the top
N Tarascon gargoyle
A gargoyle
n tarascon graffiti
Prisoner graffiti

Next post: L’Isle part 2

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