Hilltop villages, cyclists, climbers, narrow mountain roads and RV's!
29.05.2013 18 °C
So far we have had better weather than Paris and England and although it rained yesterday ( Tuesday) and was cold with it we pressed on to some of the surrounding villages, Buoux, Gordes and Lacoste, wandering the streets in the rain and occasionally contributing to the local economy. We are convinced now that we have come at the right time, after leaving the city the tourist crowds have thinned to a very comfortable level here, and the shops are gearing up with their stock for the summer and the major onslaught so there is plenty to see in that department. Our trouble is the limited space in our luggage!
Driving to get here was a bit of a challenge but once we were out of the greater Paris area and on the motorway it was fairly simple. We had a downloaded free maps of England and France that used the iPad GPS and that got us through England but the Renault came with a factory fitted Tom Tom, (which we didn't pay extra for) and once we had mastered that, finding our way around was easy. It will lead us through the Riviera and on to La Spezia too. (Marg found a Viamichilen website that plots your course, tells you toll cost at each point and total, fuel estimate for the whole trip, estimated time and even the number and length of each tunnel we will go through. Takes the worry and mystery out of it a bit, clever girl!)
Even travelling in England didn't prepare us for the narrow mountain roads with no verges we have encountered here though. The area is frequented by cyclists, walkers and ageing idiots in mobile homes bigger than the average winabago. One guy we witnessed trying to negotiate a rue in Buoux, just complete gridlock, a 5 point turn to go round one corner.
Lacoste was a highlight among many. Although we didn't get inside finding and climbing up through the town to the chateaux now owned by Pierre Cardin, (who is buying up most of the village to the chagrin of the locals) was fun. It was once owned by the Maquis de Sade, famous for his deviate nature, for which he spent about 30 years of his life confined. He is the route of the words sadist and sadism!
Today we explored more of the villages and were keen to see the ochres of Roussillon and a bories, a permanent shelter made of small limestone slabs used on a seasonal basis by shepherds and farmers in the hills. On the way to Roussillon we stopped for a view and wandered into the stunted oak forest stumbling across a small borie with an excavation into the limestone that held water. The area was littered with stone walls in varying condition and a short distance away was a ti-pee shaped construction complete with table and chimney.
Roussillon is different from the other hilltop villages in that it is sited on deposits of ochre, a novelty that has attracted attention from ancient times. The buildings here are constructed of stone in a variety of tones and rendered in colourful hues from red to yellow unavailable elsewhere. Just fabulous!