Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Water of Provence

Today’s itinerary took us on the water tour of Provence, as we visited Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Velleron, and Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. This was our first day to do a bike ride where we had to haul the bikes to the starting point. Only the loveliness of the area could have justified the effort to shlepp the 4 bikes in and on the Kangoo.

We drove into the car park in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, about 50 km. from Lourmarin, just as the sun disappeared and the wind whipped up. Nobody mentioned the possibility of the R word as we got on the bikes and headed out of town, using the occasional bike path that presented itself. As we exited Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the road took on its usual narrow width and the shoulder disappeared. The good news was there was very little traffic and virtually no trucks. As we stopped for a coffee in Velleron, we learned that the only way to get to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse was to go back to Isle. Oh well, the sun was now out, the road was relatively flat, and the route led back along the Sorgue river.

Isle is known as the Venice of Provence, literally being an island surrounded by water. There are charming water wheels along the swift-flowing Sorgue, which used to serve as a form of power for this mill town. We lunched in the shadow of a waterwheel, having a delightful eggplant tartine, salad, pommes frites, and a decadent chocolate dessert. A beautiful boxer sat at his owner’s feet right next to us.

Our trip after lunch took us north to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse on a gently uphill road lined with big trees and open fields. At one point we went under a huge aqueduct. When we reached Fontaine, the river seemed to magically appear from nowhere and then flow through the town past a lineup of cafes and shops.

The trip back to Isle was in record time since it was mostly downhill. There we repeated the arduous task of loading the bikes. But we are definitely getting better at it. It is always a good feeling to pull into Lourmarin and unload everything, where we thank God that the bikes didn’t fall off or hit anything since they stick out past the side of the car.

Tonight we ate the daube, which had cooked last night while we played bridge. Let me tell you this was one of the best meals I have ever had. There is a funny story associated with this dish, which calls for a fresh bouquet garni. We didn’t want to buy all those fresh herbs, so we absconded with all the garnishes we could come up with at dinner on Thursday night, simply stuffing the varied herbs into David’s and Bill’s pockets when the waiter wasn’t looking. The man at the market gave us lots of parsley, so we had a wonderful bouquet garni after all.

As if homemade daube was not enough, we sent the boys out to find dessert after dinner. They went to the hotel where we have been getting free wi-fi and where we stole the herbs and asked for a mixture of desserts to take out. The chef put together a group of 7 of the most spectacular desserts on a slate tile, which they agreed to return. All for 12 euros – which is about $15. Unbelievable!
I’m not sure what’s on tap for tomorrow, but it couldn’t get much better than today!


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I hope you are tallying all your miles of bike riding each day to total up at the end of your trip. Nice dessert! Good thing you didn't send the boys out to hunt and gather dessert! Might have had a different look to it! (Pheasant Under Grass?!)HA!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great price for the desserts!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Such a spectacular photo tour! You should write for a travel mag :) (Trade you my meringue for that slice of chocolate pie)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I spent a week in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at a travel writing workshop a couple of years ago. I loved it!

10:07 AM  

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