A Vermont Yankee in Provence

We were driving through the Luberon, when I yelled "Stop!" Behind us was a hillside sprinkled with beautiful hay bales.

Whenever I travel, wherever I go, Vermont is never far away. Right now, I am in Provence. The purpose of the trip is a family reunion, and since my in-laws are French, we decided to meet up here. The Luberon is a hilly region in central Provence—I think most Vermonters would love it. You see bike trails and orchards and rock outcrops and winding roads. Yesterday we went to a farmers market in a big field studded with tractors and antique farm machinery. Here are a few of the highlights of our tour so far.

This field of tractors was just outside the town of Rousillon. We drove through town—slowly—but I didn't even bother to hop out and take a picture of the red clay rocks from which ochre (the dye) is made, because the place was mobbed with tourists. We were headed back to our Airbnb.com guesthouse when we passed this farmers market and I yelled, "Stop!"
I hate to say it, because I have a great deal of native pride, but the ice cream at this little bistro in Saint Saturnin les Apt is the best I've ever tasted. Change "tasted" to "devoured." On our first night in town, Patrick and I both ordered the Quebecoise: two scoops of vanilla, salted caramel, maple syrup, and Chantilly (whipped cream), served in a tall glass with a long spoon. Mon dieu! The caramel was salted with salt from the sea, harvested in the Camargue region of Provence. The dessert shown here is much more modest than the Quebecoise: scoops of salted caramel and rum raisin, served with a profiterole.
Our favorite restaurant in town is the one where the locals hang out. It serves flatbread pizza, the aforementioned ice cream, and drinks. Obviously, I took this picture because of the cowhide lampshades.
This is a tree sweater. According to Wikipedia, the custom of decorating trees, rocks, statues, whatever, with scraps of needlework is called yarn bombing, and it is supposed to have originated in Texas. It's like graffiti but more friendly. Great way to use up the odd bit of yarn, no? This tree sweater is one of many in Saint Saturnin les Apt, which seems to have a fondness for this form of street art. Every tree surrounding the local post office is wearing a cute little sweater.
Local produce. If we were in Vermont, these would be pickles. Here, they are olives.

I can never resist taking a snapshot of a nice old stone wall. This one is part of an old fortress at the top of a hill town called Saignon. The fortress is not in great shape, but on the other hand, it is something like 500 years old.
I came across this handsome old tractor on a plaza in the town of Nîmes. In the background is an arena built by the Romans in 1200 A.D.; today, instead of the clash of swords, you hear Sting, Shaka Ponk, and Massive Attack. They were setting up for the summer music festival on the day of our visit. Nîmes was our first stop in Provence—we took the train there from Paris. It's a frequent jumping-off point for tours of Provence. As I said, most of the Vermonters I know would feel right at home in the heart of Provence. Maybe next year I'll organize a Provencal reunion for my side of the Tucker-Texier family.

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