Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Faded elegance in the Luberon, trois

Remi, Ben and I are heading off to explore for a few days, so this will have to be practically wordless! The last of Loumarin. For now...


  1. Thank you Heather for these wonderful images

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful time and safe travels. Looking forward to hearing all about it


  2. These are such wonderful images that words aren't neccessary. I hope the three of you have fun and be safe!


  3. OMG! You're picturing your dreams, aren't you?
    One word - BEAUTIFUL!
    Warm hugs to you.

  4. Tres joli... et il fait un temps superbe! Quelle chance! [This was the section aimed at giving you some French practice ;-)] Bon voyage with Remi and Ben. I have no doubt you will be reporting when you get back so we can all share at least some of your adventures. A bientot, Heather. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  5. Thank you so much ladies. We are back a day early, chased by the cold temperatures and too much snow! All your warm thoughts are much appreciated...BRRRR...

  6. Dahhling I am enjoying your tour so very much!

  7. Love... love... love. Thank you for taking me along on your tirp! I love these mini vacations.
    Have a safe and beautiful time (this should be easy with sights like these!)

  8. The winter afternoon light is unlike any other time of year with its golden glow. Your photos are lovely and I can close my eyes and see that tree's shadow and the blue door with the stoop, worn by the ages.

    Safe travels,

  9. So beautiful, I'm tired of living here but we're stuck here with hub's job. A little village in France is in our future - fingers crossed.

    1. Not too little of a village, Tabitha! My croc stillettos? In the closet. My vintage rhinestone covered coat? Ditto. I quickly learned that if I wore anything glamorous here, I would be met with blatant stares. True, I actually don't need any of it for walking Ben, but consider yourself warned...a beauty like yourself would definitely cause a scene in a tiny French town.

  10. These photos are so evocative. I can really feel the worn elegance of the place. I love the blues, faded red and the yellows. Thanks for the tour!

  11. Stunning photos - I love the way you have captured the sunlight casting a golden glow on the buildings. This post makes me want to return to France very very soon!


  12. Dear Heather,

    Well, I suppose we'll find out if ours is a True Love that can survive what appears to be Our First Disagreement.

    I can't stand Lourmarin. Herve and I ended up there one afternoon last year....paradoxically enough, we went out of our way to visit the village (I wanted to see the Comtesse d'Agoult's chateau, for no more well-grounded a reason than my absolutely loving Bernadette Peter's hilarious/wonderful portrayal of her in the movie "Impromptu").

    Lourmarin itself, though? It's all too much like Senlis and/or Sarlat (two other wildly over-curated joints that everyone ADORES, but which we fled...wondering if anyone "normal" actually lived here...why doesn't any house have a garbage can by the back door, and why are there no stray weeds whatsoever?...and where are the stray cats/dogs?). Courtesy of well-intentioned friends in Paris, I was supposed to contact/"meet" an American artist who's apparently restored a predictably BEYOND-lovely little house in Lourmarin (not surprisingly, she previously did the same thing in Santa Fe, during one of her previous self-incarnations). However, I decided to skip the opportunity (more accurately, spare Poor Herve any more exposure to The Distinctly "Cute").

    He'd been particularly irritated by the fact that you couldn't walk though the two main streets of Lourmarin (you'll know them) without encountering waves of some obviously expensive "scent" emanating from the various high-end candle&frippery shops. You'll know the ones.....the windows are inevitably filled with piles of artfully-arranged, overpriced, faux-vintage things-you-would-never-actually-use, which almost always (whether they're baskets, "French" garden-stands, tea-trays, "french" roosters for your kitchen, etc) have been treated to that ubiquitous (since about 1990) faux-patina of white glaze over artificial verdigris.

    Oh well...Lourmarin may not be too 2-cute-4-its-own good (rather obviously the shops were profitably bustling with ladies giddily buying lavendum-scented dried-sunflower wreaths and "provencal country style" mugs), but it was too cute for our comfort.

    I'll admit that it made me all a bit cranky...enough so that, when an American woman noticed that I was an American (not difficult, since I was discussing the then still-relevant Sarah Palin with Herve) and told me that she "just LOVED these little Country Villages in Provence!".....well, I told her "This place is about as genuinely 'country' as the stage-set for the old 'Hee Haw' show...". She gave me a look which clearly indicated that she thought I was an awful person.

    In any case, we decided to forego even lunch in Lourmarin and forged on to Bonnieux (which we really enjoyed, enough so that we came back the next day).

    Your photographs ARE lovely, of course.....but is there a single, square-foot of Lourmarin that doesn't look as though it's been prepped and tweaked for it's close-up?

    Level Best as Ever,

    David Terry

    1. Tap, tap, tap...that's me tapping the front of my chin with my forefinger, scrambling for a response. A witty tactic in which I somehow come out with my pride in tact after your solid earthquake of reasoning. I have come up with two things, albeit shoddy. One, I have never been to Loumarin "in season" so nearly all of the faux perfume, faux patina shops, were closed. And exactly because it is winter, there are moments when we (collective not royal) need to remember "the dream" of what it can be to live here (I can hear you sighing David). And so a town that is slightly...presented...can be...helpful. Especially for those of us with short memories. I do love Loumarin but appreciate enormously that you find it completely imperfect in its attempts at "perfection." *cough, cough* (Oh my did the Hee Haw comment make me laugh. I can just imagine the stunned pause on her face.)

      Remaining delightedly yours as ever despite my girlish tendencies,
      Heather Robinson

  13. Where oh were would we be with out the D.T.'s of the world to keep us honest? And, honestly, having only been to Paris and Nice, I'm jealous that you two can have this argument.

  14. I have pinned so many of your pictures in Pinterest it is incredible.

    I don't get anything fake.....how about that door stone worn down by feet over hundreds of years!!

    I was also there in the off-season (when we were researching the building of our house.)
    I don't know what the faux finishes David is talking about. We bought (in Rousillion) the REAL pigments mined out of the ground to be mixed with lime for the walls. That is the opposite of a "faux" finish!

    I love that town, and I love your close-up pictures of the "real thing"!

    You can't write or show too much of Loumarin to me!!!

  15. Oh ladies I loved your responses! Judith I cooould make a joke about DTs but will (wisely I think) resist. :) And Penelope, yes, there is nothing of the fake in you, so of course you would appreciate such things as a well-worn step. I love your new photo too. :)

  16. Dear Penelope & Heather,

    Well, wondering if Herve and I were alone in our mutual opinion (not, actually, a bad situation; we've done it plenty of other times), I just looked up Lourmarin in the first guidebook that came to hand in this house....The Cadogan Guide to Provence. Turning to the description of Lourmarin, I just read the blunt, declarative statement "It's too cute for it's own good." (sic).

    I wrote of, at most, the POSSIBILITY of that being the case. Rather obviously, the stern folks at Cadogan are less forgiving than even I am.

    Just to be clear....I didn't say the town was "fake" (as in Williamsburg or most of Carcassonne)...just quite relentlessly curated. Basically, you're not going to find any used gum-wrappers or weeds sprouting in the cracks around that stonework.

    I do imagine (hope, for those who actually live there and need an occasional break) that the town's far less giddily revved-up in the Winter. We did our Lourmarinic stations-of-the-cross sometime in May (it was already fairly full even then).

    Penelope, you've GOT to know that ubiquitous white-glaze(thin, then rubbed with a cloth)-over-fake-vertigris "patina". Martha Stewart has, for twenty or so years, made buckets of money selling the materials for creating this "look", which can be gratifyingly slapped on any metal object. This "look" is much beloved by a certain sort of woman and a discouraging number of gay men. Basically, it provides an "antique/'distressed' look" without one's having to worry about having an actual antique with actual rust/dirt sitting in your white-tiled kitchen or sunroom.. I've never bothered to conduct a disciplined epidemiological study of the matter, but I bet you that at least 80% of the "victorian" plant stands and birdcages between Southampton and St. Tropez have been stricken by the look.

    In any case, I was talking about Lourmarin and that particular fake finish, not Rousillon and authentic ochre. As you'll probably know, one of the most entertaining aspects of Rousillon is waiting to hear those regularly-punctuating shrieks when yet another lady discovers what's happened to her white shoes or the backside of her white skirt. Presumably, they all eventually get back home to find that, even when treated to a washing machine and a bottle of bleach, ochre remains an all-too-REAL and permanent tint. I use it all the time in my own work, and I imagine the paint will be hanging around as dust long after the paper's disintegrated.into nothing.

    Incidentally, Penelope (and you should enjoy this anecdote), I just went to your website and saw that very lovely, enormous couch. Amusingly enough?...I have a novelist friend who over the past few years has grown even more markedly asocial and, bascially, a recluse. Her parents (who were my longtime neighbors) have both died in the past few months, and she announced to me that she intends to sell both their very large and (I've thought) quite beautiful, antique dining-table and the equally large front-parlour couches. I asked why, and she unironically replied "I don't want furniture like that in the house; it just encourages people to STAY if they drop by."

    Now, THAT statement defines misanthropy.

    Level Best as Ever,

    David Terry

    P.S. Heather?....I've been hearing jokes about the "DT's" since I was born. Those are the initials of my Great-Grandfather, my grandmother (who was named "David"), two cousins, and one of my twin nephews---all of whom have lived in the same, small Tennessee town. None of us has ever shown any aptititude for fetching up new names or punchlines.

    1. Oh of course David, I should have thought of that. It is just the same as if anyone sings to me "Here's to you Mrs. Robinson" in one more time I am going to start screaming--even in a French accent I no longer find it cute. My apologies (and not "mes excuses" which Remi finally told me is not French even though I have been saying it for, what, ten years?).

      And I will also admit one of Loumarin's claims to my heart (not that it needs excusing in my book, mind you). Yes, through my stomach and even something a little more primedial than that. I didn't eat beef for many years as the hormones and softening agents that started being added in the 1970s made me quite ill. When I finally tried beef again (I think it was out of desperation in Ouzbekistan) I was fine but have only hesitantly partaken of its...well, meatiness. And yet in Loumarin, one late fall day, I had the best burger that I had devoured since childhood. Served with a roquefort sauce that was so rich that I could have gleefully bathed in it (Cleopatra can keep her lait du brebis, thank you very much). Ah, sometimes it is as simple as that.

      Wishing you and Herve a wonderful rest of your weekend. We received a very charming card in the mail. Yes, I have always been the highest of admirers of Edward Gorey's work.

    2. PS. Ok, two typos! Sheesh, yes, primordial, I know!


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