Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The France & Spain Tour 2011 - Day 3

We left our intrepid trio in Burgundy, staying overnight with our friends, Graham and Christine Battye in their stunning b&b in the beautiful village of Montreal.

Early the next morning, before we had breakfast, I wandered around the grounds taking photos in the misty post dawn light. Daphne had already been for a swim in the pool so by the time I got there, the swooping birds had left and all was peace and quiet. The mist was mostly gone but a low layer still hung over the fields on the horizon, helping to provide a natural blanket which added to the tranquility of the scene.

After breakfast, we said goodbye to our fellow guests and of course, our hosts, and set off on the drive southwards to Provence.

The actual drive was uneventful and although we stopped at a service station for lunch which was....different......we simply made a straight 309 mile run to the next b&b, a 17th century Provencal farmhouse close to Avignon.

And what a farmhouse it was. Surrounded by classic wine fields, Mas Pichony was a beautiful home that the young owners had turned into a b&b with several rooms and a gite at one end, where we were to spend the next 4 days. The gite provided us total privacy with our own entrance, two rooms (downstairs with a double bed and an upstairs with 3 single beds) and a large bathroom. Breakfast was outside on the terasse under a 300 year old plane tree where we shared the meal with fellow residents, a large dog, 3 cats and a few chickens.

Hey it WAS a farm !

Over the next few days, I took lots of photos around the farmhouse and will sprinkle them in from post to post so as not to overwhelm one single post. Here are a few from our first evening there, despite not having much time as we needed to get into town for supper and after that.....well it was dark !

First up, a shot of the pool and then the breakfast table.

The pool area was something else. With views of the wine fields on 3 sides, it also had a shaded seating area that ran the full length of the pool with couches and chairs and at the far end was a shaded summer kitchen, complete with sink, fridge, cooler, microwave, full sized dining table and everything needed for having food and drink all day long....and all night ! Finally, over to the side, was a lovely quiet wooden gazebo type structure with deckchairs for that full relaxing experience.

I took some panorama photos and like I said, I'll include them in future posts.

As well as the wine groves and huge trees of all shapes and sizes, the farmhouse had a few 'items' I'd never seen before and have no idea what they were. For instance, what is this ?

As anyone who reads this blog regularly or knows me in person can testify, I love cats and as this place had 3, I was in cat heaven. I didn't care that they were wild cats and didn't take to being picked up (as a few scratches on my hands would prove later), as they were still very cute and would occasionally pose for photographs.

Later on, while waiting for Daphne to get ready (sighhhhh), I went outside and just a few paces from the gite door, I found several bushes with snails on them. Seems that snails just love climbing to the top of anything for no apparent reason, a bit like mountaineers. I was temped to remove the top one and replace it on the ground and then listen for a VERY quiet......offs.

Yes I'm cruel like that !

When Daphne was finally ready and once at the end of the farm lane, we turned right along the D28 for a few miles to the village of Saint-Didier and then took a right onto its main street, the D39, or the Rue Le Cours. This was a typical Provencal village street, lined with centuries old trees and with cafes and restaurants every few yards. You are NOT going to starve in Provence !

After walking the length of the street checking out the choices, we settled on this cafe which I'll show on a Google Maps link as I can't pronounce it or even type its name here.
As you can see, there were tables outside and although we would have ideally wanted to sit at one to do a bit of people watching while we ate, as usual in France, all the smokers were outside and you could've cut the atmosphere with a scalpel. Quite appropriate under the circumstances.

So we went out the back and it was only after we were seated, drinking our water, that we got the menus and discovered the prices were much higher. Seems the front was a cafe with appropriate menu/prices and the back was a restaurant with....well y'know. That's what you get when you're not fluent in the language and the owner asks you if you want to eat 'out the back' as it seemed to me ! Hey ho.

Anyway the back area was delightful, enclosed as it was with trees, flowering shrubs and a bit bizarrely, Christmas style lights. It was another lovely warm evening and the food was good. All in all, a great end to a long day.

We'd been seated in a far corner and right behind me were some very exotic looking flowers which I believe were passion fruit. They're not particularly associated with France but will grow in any warm location where frost is not likely to occur. If anyone thinks I've got this wrong, feel free to let me know in the comments.

And no, I'm not calling this one Bob !

They were a bit disconcerting as they were almost on my shoulder and I felt if I left anything on my plate, they'd have had it. Well that's my excuse for clearing my plate !

After a meal that again took the best part of 2 hrs, we headed the few miles back to our gite. It had been a long day and although we hadn't walked much, we were still pretty tired and so, after planning what we'd do the next day and with the less annoying evening sounds of the countryside drifting in through the partly open windows, we went to bed.

Our first evening in Provence had really given us a taste of the area and we were excited about the days to come.

And as it turned out, rightly so......


shirley moore said...

HI Ian

O how jealous I am. I would love to be in France. It is one place I haven't spent any time.
Shirley Moore

Silverback said...

We've been back just over a week, Shirley, and yes, we did enjoy it. Very much.

Daphne said...

Ahhh that took me back - not long ago but oh, so far away and it was SO lovely. I even liked the climbing snails. And the pool was simply gorgeous!

rhymeswithplague said...

I have no idea what that green thing is either, but you should get to a doctor immediately!

If you had eaten some cheese at the b&b before stuffing your pockets with money to pay for alcoholic drinks later, could you say that you had Brie-gite Bar-dough while you were in Provence?

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