Cherry blossom front a quintessential Provençal mas in the Lubron valley, Provence

 

The 'crab apple' tree at Bastide les Amis, Luberon valley, Provnce

Mexican Poppies adorn the kitchen shelf of Maison Blanc

The petit Luberon valley in the morning

 

Delicate topiaries - very traditional Provençal - in Menerbes

Lilac tree at Bastide les Amis, Menerbes

 

A Mexican Poppy in all its glory outside Maison Blanc on the Bastide les Amis property, Menerbes

The geraniums have been planted. It is said "don't plant before the ice Saints of May", but our graveyard curators in Menerbes have thought otherwise. We will watch..

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’.

 

Everything had to be taken out of the rooms! Thank you Christian for all assistance! Five sandings later and some decent, original colour started to appear.

 

All finished, everything put back into place. Happiness!

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.

A rather fine roast lamb with potatoes and a small vegetable accompaniment at the Bistro

 

A wonderful view from the main St Remy roundabout - the Bistrot les Alpilles is on the right hand side of this picture

 

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!

 

The Menu: twice baked gruyere souffle; chicken pie (pictured above before entering the oven), pork belly, cucumber salad followed by the Pavlova!

 

The Pavlova.

 

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.

Cherry blossoms before the mistral

 

One of the first irises

 

Wisteria in Menerbes

Au bientot: Lovonne and Simon xx

Wisteria creeper over a door in Menerbes, Luberon, Provence

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.

 

 

Throughout the quarries, there are sculptures and frescoes done by workers

 

14 stories high inside!

 

A view of the von Gogh movie

 

Another bust

 

The relative size of the people visiting gives you a feel of the sheer size of these quarries

 

Here's YT and Jen Ritchie-Campbell dwarfed by the rock

 

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…..

The truck has arrived with all its gadgets

A previously made hole from our cellar into which various plumbers and technicians crawl to locate pipes etc

 

The camera is fed into the pipes with a small TV screen at the base station

 

The tracking dot on the camera gives off a signal which the detector tries to find

 

Maybe here?

 

Found! 40cm under the ground. Now we just have to excavate to access the manhole cover and pay due respects to the lilac tree.

 

Strawberries from Carpentras in Vaucluse, Provence. The best!

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