|Cotignac main square as it looked when we arrived on a Sunday during lunch|
Here I am in front of the fountain at one end of the main square in Cotignac
|Cotignac again from one side of the "place"|
Then on to Entrecasteaux and the Bastide where we were staying. From the tiny website the place looked rather rustic, but when we finally found it (between the chapel and the cemetery) we were greeted by a stylish French couple in a lovely country residence. The breakfasts were served en plein air and included fresh croissants and pain au chocolats with home made fruit preserves, yoghurt, fresh cherries etc. Our view included the sweet little chapel across the field. Take a look Bastide de Notre Dame.
|Our Bastide de Notre Dame which overlooked the tiny chapel|
While planning the trip, I consulted many guidebooks. Lonely Planet is always helpful, but I also checked Rick Steve's Provence and Insight Guides for Nice and the French Riviera and the charming Pedaling Through Provence by Sarah Leah Chase. However, the guides I liked best were the Michelin GreenGuides. They describe every village, town and market of interest, plus they provide city plans and detailed maps for well organized walking and driving tours and nature hikes. They're a wealth of information and they're in English. Even Rick Steve's appears to have copied some of the detailed maps. Unfortunately, my trip overlapped the French Riviera and the Provence GreenGuides, so I packed the French Riviera and copied pages from Provence.
We had booked two nights in Entrecasteaux, so on our first full day we ventured out to see surrounding villages like Tourtour and Aups. They were all delightful.
|Cascade de Sillans|
Onward to the Gorges du Verdon, or the French Grand Canyon, with a dizzying rocky descent and a rushing blue-green stream far below. Driving here was harrowing due to the maniacs speeding around hairpin turns. At the end we came to the charming town of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, seemingly cut from the rocky hillside and full of Faience pottery,
In the friendly calm of the village, we enjoyed our picnic lunch consisting of a baguette I snagged at a boulangerie along the route and sheep cheese, or Brebis, that we purchased from an old Shepard at a lookout along the Gorges.
|I got the last baguette at a tiny boulangerie on our way to the Gorges|
Late in the afternoon, we reached our destination of Nyons. The town was as picturesque as I remembered and we unpacked for four fun-filled days. We loved our room at Une Autre Maison which I had chosen for its location near the old town and its leafy surroundings.
|I'm having fun exploring the pool and grounds at Une Autre Maison. The weather was perfect|
The petit dejeuner was fantastic, with a basket-full of fresh breads, pain au chocolat, croissants and homemade preserves
|Breakfast was served in the courtyard and we had already started when I took this photo|
After breakfast we walked to the huge, bustling Tuesday Nyons market.
|This area is just one part of the spacious Nyons market|
The medieval castle of Grignan had just closed for the mid day break, so we circled the ancient exterior.
|washing my hands after lunch|
Onward to the Pont du Gard—a massive Roman aqueduct, now a world heritage sight near Avignon. This had been on my bucket list for some time and on this trip we made it. It was impressive and totally worth the effort, even though it was hot and dry touring the site.
|Dean sporting his walking stick at the Pont du Gard on a hot day|
The Pont was close to Nimes and Avignon, but I chose Arles for our next night, partly for it's Roman forum and partly for the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh lived in Arles and painted "Starry Night" during his stay. There are reminders all over town.
|A crooked menu at Café La Nuit Van Gogh|
|Ancient Arles at sunset|
Click to see football mania on television screens around the main Square in Arles during the European Championship, which took place all over France in June during our trip. Who knew?
|St. Paul de Vence from our terrace|
|Pool at Colombe D'or with Calder Mobile|
Yves Montand, famous French film star, jumping into the Colombe D'or pool in the late 1950s
Montand playing cards with Simone Signoret in the outside dining room c.1951. It still looks just. like this
More art pops up at the entrance to the terrace dining area at The ColombeD'or
|Jeune Fille s'évedant 1968 by Joan Miro at Foundation Maeght|
Along the vertiginous mountain road, just downhill from St-Paul de Vence, we came to The Foundation Maeght . This fabulous museum houses one of Europe's largest collections of 20th century art. The museum itself is a masterpiece which integrates a Giacometti courtyard, Miró sculptures across terraced gardens, colored-glass windows by Braque and mosaics by Chagall and Tal-Coat. The works are exhibited on a rotating basis. In fact, the last time we were here the Miró above was sitting outside on the lawn.
|A fountain with spraying green men adorns the beautiful grounds at Foundation Maeght|
After only one dreamy night in our terraced suite at the Colombe D'or, we bid farewell to St-Paul de Vence, vowing to return. We had one more whole day left in France and we decided to drive along the Riviera to Menton on the italian border, to see the Musée Jean Cocteau. Check out my next Provence blog for details.