A fun interlude…

IMG_1969

Seen at the famous culinary hotel La Mirande in Avignon

 

The Eglise St Luc in Ménerbes - renovations proceeding slowly but surely.

The Eglise St Luc in Ménerbes – renovations proceeding slowly but surely.

IMG_1881

 

Named after the bishop of Cavaillon (566-590), Chapel St Veran is situated on the left bank of the Calavon River, midway between the villages of Goult and Lacoste in the Luberon.

Legend has it that Saint-Veran fled a terrible dragon who was terrorising the country. The dragon eventually died in the place of the present Chapel.

The Chapel is located in a pine forest in the vineyards near the hamlet of Maquignons, near Goult. It was built in the tenth century. It has undergone many alterations over the centuries and a second chapel was even built inside.  Graves were discovered near the Chapel and even a skeleton was exhumed, along with coins and a key.

Restoration work was carried out in with the support of the town of Goult. The Chapel Saint Veran is well signposted from the D900 National Road. There are some picnic places in front of the Chapel which makes for a nice stop on a hike or a relaxed ramble.

 

 

Chateau Edem from the walking path.

Chateau Edem from the walking path.

 

Tuesday is hiking day – and this week we left from the Route de Lumieres, over the top of the little mountain towards Lacoste and then wound back past Chez Pierre Cardin to our vehicles.

Along the way, we passed a lonely old lady – Chateau Edem. Once a thriving farm, the homestead is now used for rental purposes – everything is really neat and tidy but quiet….

The property is 275 acres in total of which 187.5 acres is under vines. The AOC vineyards are tended and worked by various farmers in the area since the label Chateau Edem stopped being produced. There is also 20 acres of parkland.

Just waiting for someone with money and passion to bring the label back to its former glory!

 

Peeping over to the Petit Luberon

Peeping over to the Petit Luberon

 

A view of Saint Saturnin-les-Apt on our hike to the Auigier

A view of Saint Saturnin-les-Apt on our hike to the Aiguier

 

An Aiguier is a Provençal word, denoting a well carved out of rock during Medieval times. This water was used for their sheep and goats. Another English term for the aiguier is a ‘cistern’.

Just north-east of Saint Saturn-les-Apt in the Luberon, is a “Land of Aiguiers” – so called because the preponderance of them in the mountains of Vaucluse. This area stretches from the village of Villars right along, past Gordes until near Cabrieres-les-Avignon. The calcium rocks made carving these structures out much easier than many other types of rock. The fertile grazing in the mountains made ideal sheep and goat country. Where else than in France would the lamb graze on Herbes de Provence!

 

Here we're walking down but to get there, it is steep climb!

Here we’re walking down but to get there, it is steep climb!

 

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

 

Many of them were covered structures, allowing the water to remain cool in the scorching hot summers – providing clean water also for the shepherds.

The climb we went on to the Aiguier d’Aribeau was a steep one – from close to Villars at 450m above sea level, we hiked up and up to 802m. Not a trip to do on a hot day!

The Aiguier carved out of solid rock

The Aiguier carved out of solid rock

 

We found this chap sitting on the bottom of the Aiguier

We found this chap sitting on the bottom of the Aiguier

Now on sale in your local French supermarket - Insect Hotels!

Now on sale in your local French supermarket – Insect Hotels!

 

The Procession Caterpillar nest - seen in the Luberon Mountains near Villars

The Procession Caterpillar nest – seen in the Luberon Mountains near Villars

The pine processionary caterpillar is the best known of all the processionaries, studied as early as 1736 by Raumier and later by the famous French scientist, Fabre (1898) whose essay “ The life of the caterpillar” is among the classics of popular entomological literature. The insect is found in the warmer regions of southern Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. It is the habit of the caterpillars to move over the ground in long head-to-tail processions and to sting with urticating hairs anyone who attempts to molest or threaten them.

It is also one of the most destructive of forest insects, capable of defoliating vast tracts of pines during its episodic population surges. Of interest here, however, is the fact that it is among the most social of caterpillars. Sibling groups stay together throughout the larvae stage, often pupating side by side at sites they reach by forming long, over-the-gound, head-to-tail processions.

The insect is active only during the colder times of the year, spending the warm summer months as a pupa buried in the ground. The moths begin to emerge from the soil in August and shortly thereafter mate and seek out pine trees where they place their eggs. Each female produces a single egg mass which it fastens to a needle of a suitable host trees. Egg masses contain up to 300 or so eggs and the caterpillars typically enclose from them four or more weeks after they are laid. The eggs are completely covered with scales that detach from the abdomen of the female.

 

File picture of caterpillars crawling along

File picture of caterpillars crawling along

 

Recent studies show that the caterpillars lay down a trail pheromone as they advance over the branches of the host tree. The unidentified marker is secreted from the ventral surface of the abdomen. The caterpillars mark when the tips of their abdomens brush against the substrate. Although they also secrete silk and mark their pathways with the material, studies show that it plays little or no role in the elicitation or maintenance of trail following.

Most likely, the silk serves to increase steadfastness on the smooth plant surfaces. Pine processionary caterpillars can distinguish old from new trails. They also differentiate between trails made by different numbers of caterpillars and follow preferentially those marked by the majority.

The procession

The procession

 

Trail marking enables the caterpillars to aggregate at feeding sites and allows them to find their way back to the nest after feeding. When they move over the branches, the caterpillars may move head to tail in small groups or they may move completely independently of others. In either case, they rely on the trail marker to find their way.

Important Note: The caterpillars can be highly toxic, especially to animals. We know of one dog that nearly lost her tongue from nipping at a caterpillar.  Contact with the hairs causes skin rashes and eye irritations. Susceptible individuals may also develop an allergic response to a protein associated with the hairs of the caterpillar.

High up in the mountains we discovered the first Spring wild flowers on Tuesday. Spring is around the corner!

A crochus suns itself - face to the sun

A crochus suns itself – face to the sun

The Crochus (also known as Wild Saffron):

Crocus cartwrightianus is a species of flowering plant in the family Iridaceae, native to Greece and Crete. It is a perennial growing to 5 cm (2 in). The flowers, in shades of lilac or white with purple veins and prominent red stigmas, appear with leaves in early Spring. The Latin specific epithet cartwrightianus refers to the 19th century British Consul to Constantinople, John Cartwright.

C. cartwrightianus is the presumed wild precursor of the domesticated and now widely cultivated triploid Crocus sativus – the saffron crocus flower.

This species is commonly found growing on limestone soil areas of the Attica Peninsula of Greece. There is evidence that this plant was cultivated in ancient Crete at least as early as the Middle Minoan Period, as exhibited by a mural, the “Saffron Gatherer”, illustrating the gathering of crocuses.

 

No hunt is complete without a traditional picnic

No hunt is complete without a traditional picnic

 

 

 

We’ve spoken often about the truffle hunts at Les Pastras, near Cadenet. Well, now here’s another way to experience Povence off the beaten track – fishing and mushroom-hunting! All under the management of Les Pastras – which means one thing, five star!

Jean-Marc Hennequin, the ultimate outdoorsman, has been the truffle-hunter at Les Pastras for several years. After one particularly lively hunt, he told his Franco-American business partners, Lisa and Johann Pepin, how much he enjoyed their joint enterprise. “I can’t believe we get paid to take people truffle hunting,” he said. “It’s so much fun. If only I could get paid to pursue all my hobbies!”

It just so happens that his other hobbies are fishing and mushroom hunting, two activities that it’s nearly impossible to find a guide for here in Provence. Serious fishermen and mushroom hunters don’t usually like to share their best fishing holes and secret sites for foraging, and would certainly never invite tourists to tag along…

So the trio created Provence Outdoors to do just that. Seasonal excursions are available starting immediately and guests will have the opportunity to fish lakes and rivers for pike, carp and perch. The tour includes an English speaking guide, one-day fishing license, equipment and the quintessential outdoorsman’s breakfast: pâté, sausage, baguette, olives, and red wine.

Jean-Marc with a largish pike caught in a local dam

Jean-Marc with a largish pike caught in a local dam

 

Happy fishermen!

Happy fishermen!

 

A young hunter

A young hunter

 

 

In the fall, they’ll take you to explore the Luberon or the Alps de Haute Provence on a mission to find 10 different varieties of mushrooms, including: cepes, chanterelle, golden chanterelle, hedgehog mushroom, blue stalk mushroom, Tricholoma myomyces, Saffron milk cap, white saddle, elfin saddle, and black trumpet.

You’ll discover the quiet, unspoiled forests of the area and enjoy the bucolic and relaxed atmosphere of Provence. Knives and baskets will be provided, as will instruction on how to distinguish between edible and poisonous mushrooms. And because noProvençal adventure is complete without some food and wine, mushroom hunters will also enjoy an outdoorsman’s picnic or apéritif, depending on the time of day.

Cepes

Cepes

 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

 

In the wild

In the wild

 

For more information, visit www.provenceoutdoors.com http://www.provenceoutdoors.com .

e-mail: contact@provenceoutdoors.com
phone: +33 6.26.05.30.49

← Previous PageNext Page →

  • Blog Roll

    • 2 Oceans Vibe - South Africa’s premier news site for the upwardly mobile.
    • 2Oceansvibe Radio - South Africa’s premier internet radio station – great tunes, good banter and setting the pace
    • Crikey - what they don’t publish in Oz, in the mainstream printed news. Concise comment.
    • Getaway Guru - Great travel site with many hints and tips
    • Popyacollar - A leading edge look at fashions and trends by a leading fashionista
    • Provence Villa Rental - the ultimate property rental in France. Provençal Paradise.
    • Thought Leadership Strategy – Craig Badings - Craig is one of Australia’s leading PR practitioners. His views on Thought Leadership and Strategy are always worth reading
    • Wrestling Possums - The doyen of PR, Chris Savage, gives this site his unique brand of incisiveness. A must read if you’re interested in communications.
  • Other Links



  •   

       

    LSW Twitter

    white spacer

    radio

    white spacer

    white spacer

    white spacer