Just the best.

Lovely little heart branding for this flock!

 

This is a big boss – look at the size of his bell!

 

Shepherds

 

Those two goats again

 

We loved the costumes and, of course, the donkeys!

 

 

Bringing up the rear a traditional cart with some children.

 

 

The Fête de la Transhumance is held in Saint Rémy every year on Whit Monday (Pentecôte). It marks the moment when, at the end of spring, the local pastures have dried up, and sheep must travel to the lusher grazing in the high mountains. Today the animals are transported by trucks, but in times gone day the journey was done on foot and took nearly two weeks. The Fête de la Transhumance commemorates that tradition. Starting at around 11h00, the town becomes a spectacular sea of sheep as some 3,500 of them from all around the Alpilles, plus goats, donkeys, shepherds and sheep dogs swirl twice around the old town.

The tourist blurb did not exaggerate. This was an event not be missed, and in one of our favourite villages.We headed off early to miss the crowds and get a good vantage place at a roadside cafe. What we had not realised was that there was a major ‘brocante’ (antiques and collectables) fair on at the same time, so Madame was in her element. Waiting time sped by as various purchases arrived back at the coffee table from sorties into the fair.

Arriving early is great advice. Although the start was scheduled for 11h00, it only really got under way at 11h30. It seems that allied with Provençal time, it does take time to marshal 3,000 sheep and goats but when it does happen (and there are two circumferences of the old village), there is a mass of sheep, goats, shepherds, donkey carts and various stragglers not to mention the very happy sheep dogs.

Mark down Pentecost in your diary if you are planning a trip to Provence during this time. The Fete de la Transhumance is a must.

Awaiting the crowds from a central cafe, one of the local travelling minstrels entertains the crowds.

Leading the procession are two traditionally dressed Provençal ladies.

Then follows a laden donkey with a shepherd’s possessions, off for a long summer in the hills

Here they come! Farmers and their shepherds, not to mention the busy dogs, lead the animals up into the Town Square

A seething mass of sheep and goats

A character – a shepherd straight from the casting couch

The goats stand out from the crowd

This handsome chap is a Gruffon. Seen at St Remy-de-Provence.

Expect the unexpected. Cruising along, happy renters, everything good – except the weather. A phone call, water is seeping out of the hot water cylinder in Maison Olive. Fortunately, we have a faithful plumber and electrician in Manu. Without further ado he has arrived and taken off for Avignon in pursuit of a new cylinder. The existing one has done its time and now a new one is needed.

Manu prepares the 200l cylinder for replacing

 

The tricky bit. Re-connecting the water and electrics and making sure that there are no air locks.

 

By 18h30, Manu had replaced the cylinder and hot water was brewing again. Merci Manu! Once again, our faithful local artisans had come up trumps. Without them, where would we all be?

One of the joys of Spring in the Luberon is the amount of local farmers who turn their hands to cash crops and provide the markets with fresh new season vegetables. Down the road from us in Menerbes is a small farm which is no exception. Madame opens her little shop between between 09h00 and 11h00 most mornings and we can purchase fresh green and white asparagus. Delcious!

Really fresh green asparagus

 

As fresh, white asparagus

It has been well documented in all the local and national media about the torrents of rain that have fallen during May 2013. Menerbes is no exception. On Saturday we had 55mm of rain and returning from some friends after dinner on Saturday night we were confronted with a large tree blocking our approach road. We had to weave our way through a dark village and narrow streets to get home.

Resplendent with red gardening gloves, the Menerbes Mayor assists with the cutting away of the tree

For once we were glad to hear the sound of a chain saw, early on Sunday morning. Closer inspection revealed that our Mayor, himself, and a local municipal employee were cutting up the tree and opening the road for all of us. Merci, Yves!

 

Our feral kitties keep us amused. Worm, in particular, is challenging the boundaries of “curiousity killed the cat”

 

Worm and Tabby have decided that our new Sandrini vines have been placed there for their own jungle gym playtime.

 

A bientot : Lovonne and Simon xx

 

A thirsty Charlie de Provence.

 

 

 

 

 

It marvels visitors to Provence, and France in general, how much money the French government(s) spend on continuous improvement to the infrastructure. There’s always something being built, renovated or merely maintained to look good and working. Cynics often question why a country with such a National Debt can afford to continue with these works but they do provide much-needed employment and when you occupy the lofty pedestal of the world’s largest tourist country, you could argue that it is necessary.

Another example of this work is the renovation of the old railway line between Cavaillon and Apt, a distance by car of about 38km. The railway has been transformed into a walking/cycling track linking the two towns with many entrance and stopping points along the way. It runs ‘roughly’ parallel to the D900/N100 National Road which is built on top of the old Roman road Via Domitia. If you want to know more about the Via Domitia and our travels along it, click here.

Last week in a welcome gap between the continuous spring rain, we took off for Lumieres to walk the section to the old railway station at Bonnieux – now an art gallery with a restaurant next door and an, as yet unexplained, renovation project by Pierre Cardin from Lacoste.

 

The view as you take off – fairly obvious that it was a railway line!

 

The wild poppies are just starting

 

The path cuts through farm lands – redolent with the fresh smell of cut hay after the rain

 

Anyone for escargot? We found this chap along the way

 

Cloud threatened but fortunately the rain held off for a few hours

 

There are numerous tree tunnels which add to the beauty and atmosphere/ Note that the road is pretty flat = great for a light ramble or a serious power walk

 

The turning point – the old station at Bonnieux. Now an art gallery with a delightful ‘local’ restaurant (also called le Gare) opposite

 

Outside the restaurant we found this old advertisement. Quite fun.

The walk from Lumieres to the Gare de Bonnieux is 8km there and back. Any easy hour and a half or quicker, depending how you feel. There is a little parking space/s at Lumieres entrance for you to leave your car -safely!

 

 

This is Pickles. We met him near Roussillon at an apero gathering

Little fountain near to the Hotel de Ville, Menerbes

 

Daisy display at Bastide les Amis, Menerbes in the Luberon

Benji is the local Menerbes lothario. He often joins us on our walk and comes back to the Bastide for a biscuit.

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