Many wise owls have told us that when you settled in Provence, it is always best to watch, wait and see before trying something – examples of this are some people who cut down trees willy-nilly only to find that they had all been planted for a reason – the mistral etc. Others do additions to their houses without worrying about certain factors such as sun etc. So it was, that we had our floors in Maison Blanc done with Tavel stone, reputedly the best there is, and then ‘sealed’.
Well, we found out that they had not been sealed properly and consequently, were pitting and cracking, leaving small holes all around. A few enquiries and wonderful assistance from the local Menerbes architect, Monique, and Pascal Paumel (‘Bruno’ to his mates) arrived with his machines, mastic, sealant and considerable expertise.
Voila! The floors are magnificent.
We had been promising ourselves a little lunch at Bistrot les Alpilles in St Remy de Provence. Off we went with Jen and Casey en route to the Carrieres des Lumieres (for this story, published on 24 April). Grwat location in the old village, superb service, reasonable prices and good food. Often hard to find in St Remy.
Then, it was the birthday. A gathering of happy souls around the dining room table and Madame’s exceptional cooking. As usually happens, we forget to take pictures (the wine, perhaps?) but at least we got two!
And all the while the blossoms have continued to entrance us, however the mistral has blown and we have been sad to see many of them end up at the bottom of our swimming pool. The colours are changing, from the white of the blossoms, to the blues of the irises/wisterias and soon the red of the poppies.
Au bientot: Lovonne and Simon xx
Located in the heart of the regional Alpilles park near to the tourist hub of St Remy-de-Provence and the Roman town of Glanum, lies a most unusual attraction – for locals and tourist alike. Once a working quarry, the Val d’Enfer was exploited for industrial purposes until 1935. The white colour of the limestone and its ease of extraction meant that these quarries had been worked since the second century BC.
These quarries(carrieres) were used to construct Glanum, the nearby medieval village and castle of Les Baux de Provence. It is from this name that we have ‘bauxite’ – a red mineral extraceted and used for aluminium since the 1800s. A special saw – the Crocodile Saw – was developed and could be used by one man and was pulled only one way at a time. About a metre of stone was cut per day, per man!
After a short hiatus due to various cutely termed ‘administrative problems’ the quarry has been taken over by CreateSpace a well know Paris-baed entertainment nd museum company to create a stunning sound and light spectacular on the works of von Gogh and Gaugin.
It was very difficult to get decent pics inside the show but these shots of the outside give you an idea of the sheer size and scale of the venue.
The Carrieres de Lumieres are open all day from 10h00-19h00 and show the films continuously. They can be accessed from takking the road towards Les Baux-de-Provence from St Remy-de-Provence, pass the Les Baux entrance (and the 1,000s of cars) and you will see a signopost off to the right. There is a small car park at the quarry entrance.
What is important and what is not, takes on a whole new meaning in rural Provence. Internet access is more important than having water (at least in our house!), and having fully functioning amenities, essential. So it was that we were getting a funny sulphur smell coming from one of our baths. After trawling various forums on the web, we deduced that it was the fosse septique (septic tank), causing the problem.
We summoned our trusty Vidange friends from Cavaillon in their blue and yellow tanker to come and pump it dry. Problem – where is the tank! Maison Olive is easy – there is a big man hole cover. Maison Blanc, a bit more complicated – the plans show a tank; the architect ‘je ne pas / I don’t know’, she was not part of the actual house construction; the previous owner ‘can’t remember’; there is no man hole cover visible anywhere! The little man who came to pump the tank disappeared under the house with a mining lamp and emerged to telephone his boss: the phone was handed over “Le fosse septique est perdu!” (the septic tank is lost!), said the voice on the other end of the telephone line.
Happily, the problem was not a full tank but residue water which was solved easily.
An appointment was then made for us to ‘find the septic tank’ in the event of any future problems.
The Vidange boss and his colleague duly arrived back with their large truck, a small camera and a space age detector.
Here we go…..