Monday, August 15, 2011

August in the Alpilles, Part One

We are back in Arles after our eleven day stay in the country. Every day was the same and yet each were unique. The light, the wind or lack of it, the emotions as our nerves fritzed their last buzz before settling into peace. I am still in vacation mode but wanted to share. I'll leave it to you to imagine my scrabbling over rocks in thin-soled espadrilles, Ben, our Golden turning back to wait for me with a big smile. The afternoon doing the same. The olive trees, the whispering pines. As always, the scent of rosemary and thyme. But you know all of this, it is the stuff of Provençal legends. I am so incredibly grateful to have had this moment a part in such a beautiful home, private enough to feel good in my skin again. The Alpilles singing their own song--this time of the year it is the castanets of the cigales but also, if you really listen, some sort of exhale. Although that might just be what I wanted to hear. 

I'll divide the photos up into three posts so as to (hopefully) not overwhelm or bore. Am wishing that you find the scenery as phenomenal as I did...

Thank you again for all of the kind birthday wishes. In its simplicity, it is one of my very favorites. Sometimes we don't need to work so hard to faire la fête


  1. Heather, is the water in the lake actually as amazingly blue as it looks in the photo? I bet it is, but would like to know what you thought. I can close my eyes and smell summer sun gently fragrancing the pine needles and rosemary. Mmm....

    Just what you needed...and I hope that the magic lives on now you are back home again. Virginia x

  2. Beautiful scenery and breathtaking views. Thank you for sharing (we could dive into the blue water to escape this summer heat)!

    Have a wonderful week!

    Renee and Angela

  3. Such a beautiful part of the world!

    ~ Clare x

  4. I feel more relaxed just hearing about it! Love the image of you Ben scrabbling over rocks and your simple birthday. Ahhhh. May the peace of the Alpilles stay with you.

  5. How beautiful!! What a perfect birthday treat - I really can't think of much better than the ultimate retreat somewhere so lovely!!

  6. Thank you, as always, for your well-wishes ladies. I am really trying to pace myself now that we are back so that peace just doesn't evaporate!

    Virginia, yes, the lake really is that blue. It is an artificial lake that was formed after years of ochre mining (hence the red, red earth) and the mineral deposits in the water create the stunning color. I have another photo from a different day and is is interesting to see how the reflections change.

  7. STUNNING! happy you share with us!
    Hope the Birthday was special and your feeling good about it.

  8. What a stunningly beautiful place - thank you for sharing the photos with us. I can imagine how medicinal it was to all of you, including dear Ben.

    I am looking forward to seeing more photos...whenever you're ready.

  9. Wonderful post! I loved seeing your photos. I went to Provence once, a few years ago, and stayed in Menerbes. Loved that area. I want to go back and do it all over again. Such beauty there!

  10. I think we've been going to France for all the wrong reasons, we forgot to look around us at the scenery. Funny but Dylan dog waits for me with a big goofy grin on his face when we're hiking must be a golden thing.

  11. Elizabeth--I was sad the day before then poof! Felt great on the day itself, realized that I was being silly. :)

    Sue, Ben had the best time of all of us! Without a doubt! Doggy heaven!

    Sunday Taylor, yes, Menerbes is so lovely. Especially slightly off season when it isn't so crowded. It is only a little over an hour's drive from where we are and yet the terrain is so different!

    Debra, well, I am wondering if you have only gone to Paris (and nearby) as most folks do. Despite its charms, that is a little like going to the States and only going to NYC! The countryside in France is one of its strongest points--less dramatic than what we have but so lovely. And the next time you hop over, you better take the train to see me! :)

  12. Dear Heather,

    Predictably enough, you're right.... Menerbes is lovely. We stayed there (used it as a "base", more accurately) for two weeks last year. The stay was wonderful....although we had one weird day during which, having driven over to Lacoste, we were sitting in one of the two cafes (and, as you might guess, talking)when we were suddenly surrounded and beseiged for an hour by four girls hollering "Oh my GAWD!!!!..Ya'll from The South?!?!?!....Oh, my GAWWWD!!!!!"

    Turns out they were all former sorority sisters who were attending the summer-skool session of the Savannah School for the Arts (it owns some now-very-profitable, renovated buildings in Lacoste).

    We eventually extricated ourselves from that melee (not that these weren't perfectly sweet girls, but I don't, as a general rule, travel 3000 miles to jaw about cousins and South Carolina connections with Tri-Delts from Columbia). Once back in Menerbes, we ate at that "terrace" restaurant (I can't recall its name) with the wonderful balcony-view, where a woman from Indiana (stranded with a dog and two very small children) heard me speaking English......and we promptly found ourselves being lectured for about an hour on how we HAD to go to Chicago sometime, how the Midwest isn't really boring at ALL, and all the ways in which Indiana is so completely under-rated and unjustifiably ignored...etcetera, ad infinitum.

    Oh, I forgot, she asked Herve "Isn't France just GREAT?! Don't you just LOVE it?!?!?". For some reason, she'd assumed he was "German" (I quote). By that time, I was pretty fed-up with her, and I told her that I did a lot of louche things, but I made a point of not sleeping with Germans.

    She hastily gathered up her children and left very quickly, which suited us just fine.

    By the way, have you ever read the NYT article (from a few years ago) in which the cafe-owner and several other Menerbes citizens claim that everything Peter Mayles ever wrote about them was false? I finished that article and considered that they'd just discredited anything that had ever made them actually interesting.

    Level Best as ever,

    David Terry

  13. P.S. It just occurred to me that I probably should emphasize that, in writing "Columbia", I was referring to the capital of South Carolina (and seat of THE University of South Carolina)...not the university in NYC.



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