Staycation: Day One

It’s that time of year again! You often hear that nobody works in August in Europe. That’s because it’s true. But instead of taking off one entire week, like last year, Johann is taking two four-day weekends in a row (I know. It’s rough to be him, isn’t it?). This time, we’re using his vacation days to have a holiday in our own backyard, since we had so much fun doing it last year. And believe it or not, after nearly six years here, there’s still so much we haven’t seen or done!

This morning we got up early and got our chores out of the way. Johann watered the olive grove and ran some errands, while I did laundry and cleaned the house. With that done, we headed out to the garden to pick some fresh vegetables for ourselves and the friends we’re having lunch with tomorrow. After feasting on a green salad with garden tomatoes, basil, sliced avocado and smoked turkey, we were off!

We stopped on our way to take some pictures of a nearby sunflower field and then headed to Ansouis to the Musée Extraodinaire (Extraordinary Museum). A collection of a man’s lifetime spent recovering fossils, rare fish, coral, sea glass, pearls, driftwood and both harmless and deadly seashells filled every corner of the space, as did sea-themed artwork that was truly enchanting. Adorably quirky ceramic sea creatures of real and imagined natures covered every surface. For the €3.50 entrance fee, it was truly a bargain.

Then we stopped at Ansouis’s famous l’Art Glacier. They make homemade ice cream and sorbet right on the premesis and in flavors you’d never expect. Try, for example, chili pepper, thyme, lavender, poppy, black pepper, garlic, rose, tomato, basil, violet and just about every flavor of fruit you can think of. Johann ordered the “Mandarin” sundae, pictured, which was a scoop of lychee, raspberry, mango and calamansi covered in whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit.

They’ve added something new to the menu that I believe is intended to entice our friend Ed to visit Provence again: “panier de chantilly.” That’s right. It’s an enormous bowl filled with nothing but whipped cream. Avec chantilly, Ed, always “avec.” I ordered three scoops and chose the chili pepper, black pepper and lavender. I like to mix things up a little. Also, Johann really wanted the giant sundae but couldn’t bear the thought of passing up the opportunity to have a taste of the chili pepper, which is his favorite. We enjoyed our treats on the divine terrace overlooking the Luberon valley. If you are ever in Provence, it’s a stop not to be missed. On our way out, Johann said, “I asked inside if many people order the chili pepper ice cream and they said ‘no.’ I told them if they ever stop making it that I’ll come here and burn the place down.”

“That seems totally reasonable to me,” I replied.

Our next stop was La Tour d’Aigues, a picturesque Provençal village (are there any other kind?) that hosts a summer wine-tasting every year. For €2.50, you get a glass (which you get to keep) and the right to taste as much free wine as you like all night long. I can’t believe this is the first time we’ve gone. The wine stands enclose the giant square in front of the castle and long tables with plenty of benches and chairs are set up underneath the shade of the plane trees. And lest you imagine that the French would let you drink on an empty stomach, there are also vendors selling mussels and fries, grilled kebabs and sausages, paella, daube (a rich beef stew made with red wine sauce) and sandwiches. There was also live music and dancing, which made being at the foot of the spot-lit castle even more magical than it already was.

Day one: Success. Stay tuned for day two! In the meantime, please check out the rest of today’s pictures under “Photos,” at right.


2 thoughts on “Staycation: Day One

  1. Johann seems a little hyped up on the sugar, there. I’m curious about the deadly seashells. Deadly while the creatures that lived in them were alive? Or deadly now? More!

  2. [this is good] I do love the idea of the Mus;e Extrodinaire. When the ocean is feeling generous, it’s good that there is someone close by to take advantage of her bounty. Sometimes she is such a tease.

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