Yes, they actually do say voila in France and you hear it quite often. In fact, I believe every waiter/waitress that we had during our trip said it when putting down our meals!
My gradschool girlfriend Erica and her husband Rene came to visit us this month. Newlyweds....
Since Rene used to live in Germany he wanted to see some areas a little farther away that he had not yet experienced. We took yet another Ryanair flight (they really should be paying me for all of these plugs) to Montpellier in southern France. Then we rented a car and drove over to the region of "Provence." You may recognize this from the seasoning, Herbs de Provence.
Apparently Erica was really excited to fly.
We stayed in yet another place from Airbnb and this one again did not disappoint. We did not land until 10 pm and by the time we got to our place it was 11. Our hosts graciously welcomed us to our new home for the next 4 days. It is a mother-in-law suite with two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a beautiful patio with access to the pool. The owners lived in the house upstairs and it was absolutely the most gorgeous piece of property on a hillside with an incredible garden full of tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, and wild herbs. I was super jealous. Quinn had asked if there might be any restaurants or bars open where we could grab some food and our hosts regretfully said no. However, they happened to have some tomatoes, a full leg of prosciutto that you could cut yourself, a warm loaf of bread, eggs, and a bottle of wine that they suggested they would bring down!!!!!!!! They would not take no for an answer. So before we knew it we had an amazing snack and once again wonderful hospitality from strangers, turned hosts, turned friends.
The tomatoes were so amazingly huge! They were possibly the best tasting tomatoes we have ever had.
Quinn cutting the ham leg
We all had to inspect the tomato
We were also greeted by their resident Saint Bernard who was a giant fuzzy ball of mush.
Our patio and our pool
We enjoyed some more tomatoes with our breakfast
We spent our first day cruising around our town of Saint Remy. This town is famous for its Roman ruins
and its mental hospital where Vincent Van Gogh spent some time. He completed something around 200 paintings while staying at this institution.
You can really only tour a small part of the hospital because it is still a working hospital but the grounds are quite amazing. This region of France is known for its lavender which blooms in July. This timing was not coincidental.
We took a lot of breaks for Quinn to put his foot up and to reduce the amount of walking. Here we are relaxing at a cafe.
Next stop, Les Baux de Provence. We didn't have this on our itinerary and had no idea what to expect but our host recommended it so we went to check it out. We were quite impressed when we rounded the corner and this was the town!
Wandering around the streets. This is more of a historic, touristy town rather than a town where people live but there is a huge castle at the top with a giant trebuchet. We didn't hike up there but we got some nice views anyhow.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner in town as well. I had tagliatelle with little octopi and Quinn had a traditional dish with veggies that you dip into a garlic aoili.
This was a delicious fish dish!
Les Baux by night.
The next day we went to the town of L'Isle sur la Sorgue. It is a town known for its canals and water wheels. It sure had a lot of those.
They also had a lot of delicious cookies.
Next we went to Fontaine de Vacluse which has a fresh water spring that no one knows the source of. It was a pretty walk but we didn't get a ton of pics
Next up, Senanque Abbey. This Abbey is known for its beautiful lavender fields and dramatic backdrop.
So many people were taking pictures, including us! Peek a boo!
No biggie, just a random hill top town along the way. Getting this group shot was an adventure because I set up the camera on this little plateau and then had to run around a path and down a ways to get in position. I didn't realize it, but I had a whole audience and one lady even said, "watching that was as great as the view!"
Little stop in Rousillion. This town is known for being the "Colorado" of Provence with its red rock. Unfortunately for us, the sky opened and rain poured on us so we couldn't really check out the town. Something to save for next time.
Dinner at a little crepe place in a quintessential outdoor seating area.
The next day we went to check out Chateuneuf de Pape which is a town where they used to make the wine for the pope. Erica and Rene got some mussels for breakfast and we had a little en route breakfast picnic. Quinn got some good shots just along the side of the road. Everything is beautiful in France.
First stop, a winery and car gawking.
Next stop, best meal of the trip.
Next top, more wine
Then we went over to the city of Avignon which hosts a theater festival every July, for the entire month. In order to get people to go to their productions, the actors perform, hand out flyers, and generally make a raucous in the city to promote their show. The whole town was covered in posters and there were little performances on every corner.
They also have the Pope's palace there but we were just too tired to take the tour....bad tourist, bad!
Fun door, and fun Erica.
We also had to check out the Pont du Gard which is a still standing Roman aqueduct! It was so gigantic!!!!!! You really cannot get the perspective from this picture but there are some tiny people in it. We enjoyed a beverage and some hours of relaxation here.
Magnificent Olive tree.
Dinner at a little joint in our town
On our last day, we went to check out Saint Marie de la Mer. This was a tourist beach town and super windy so it was kind of bust but they have a really cool symbol for their town.
Then we stopped by a flamingo and wild horse sanctuary. I have seen a ton of flamingos in my life but this was the first time I ever saw one fly. It is so incredible. Their wing span is really wide but it is just crazy to see their super long legs behind them. I really enjoyed seeing them circling around the park. We didn't get to see the horses because we were once again foiled by rain but we did get to see an owl and coypu. It was a fun little sanctuary.
After France we had one more day with Erica and Rene and the three of us went on a Mosel boat cruise. Quinn had to work and unfortunately missed a beautiful sunny day. I love when friends come to visit and it is even more fun to explore a new place together. Southern France is on my "must return list" and so are Erica and Rene!