Monday, November 30, 2009

Country Roads

Even though we traveled with a GPS, affectionately called Mimi Two, we still traveled many country roads in the south of France and sometimes got lost. Just a note, I am Mimi One and my husband said he had two bossy ladies on the trip telling him what to do.
The country roads were glorious with the beginning of autumn, leaves were just starting to turn golden. The roads were narrow and windy, but oh so beautiful. I just loved the pink nose of that sweet cow. Fire wood and fence posts would be neatly stacked between the trees.
It was walnut harvest time and everywhere we drove there were walnut trees and most often a few people collecting the walnuts under the trees. The orchards were so neat and tidy, I was totally impressed and loved every moment of traveling the country roads.

Double click on the collage for a closer look.

Tomorrow is a winter tea in Aspen and the beginning of the Christmas season here at Delights of the Heart. I will still be sharing travel days interspersed with the holiday season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gardens in France

Having a Master Gardener for a husband, he wanted to visit gardens.
Since I love gardens too, it was fun to seek them out as we traveled in France.
The first garden we visited was the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, which I have shared already.
In the Dordogne River region there were some beautiful gardens.
The first garden we visited was a water garden with many beautiful water lilies and frogs.
Next we venture out to Les Jardins Du Manoir D'Eyrignac.
It was a beautiful sculptured garden originally developed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Being an apple lover I noticed many apple trees along our travel. The one at this garden intrigued me because it was trimmed into a round shape and even had structured plants around it's base.
Many of the apple orchards we saw were also kept small and covered with netting to protect the fruit from the birds.
Then our last garden was a vegetable garden found at the Castlenaud, which I will show another day. We were fascinated by the symmetry of the garden, pictured in the collage at the left center.
Double click on the collage to see the picture in more detail.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Take Delight in the Day

Take delight in the celebration of Thanksgiving!
I hope each one of you today is sharing with family
or friends in the delights of the day, whether you eat turkey
and pumpkin pie or you live somewhere other
than the US.
Have a wonderful day!
I am thankful for you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Laundry and a Windmill

This is sort of a funny thing to write about on my travel, but I was so struck by laundry on our travels in Europe. The picture above is the laundry room at the apartment in Provence.
Sheets were hung to dry in the same garden we had tea in Carcassonne.

If the laundry isn't entertaining enough, wind will help our laundry dry quicker.

I was so amazed that for sure out of the 6 places we stayed at least 4 of them hung their sheets to dry. Beside saving on electricity, sheets smell divine when hung to dry.
I am not sure if they were doing it for the green effect, saving money, or that is just the way it is done. Since I have been trying to hang my sheets this year to save one load on the dryer, this really caught my heart to see sheets blowing in the breeze or in a basement laundry room.
Even the 45 room hotel in Barcelona had a laundry room with the sheets hanging to dry. Now if that isn't dedication? I sat one day watching the bedding be sent through a window into a cart and then wheeled to the basement. When I peeked there were sheets hanging everywhere.

Traveling even in the cities there was often a few pieces of laundry hanging outside a small balcony or just out the window.

I think we have come to expect to use our home dryers too often, we feel entitled. This is my little band wagon for helping to conserve and help with the green effect. If we hung just one load of laundry a week either outside, a small line set up in our basement or garage, or a laundry rack, we could do a little to contribute and have the reward of divine smelling sheets.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Food in France

Several of you were curious about the food in France when I mentioned the good food in the Dordogne River region. It was interesting to us that each region in France had it's specialty.
In Provence there was a lot of egg plant and olive oil.
In Carcassonne it was Cassoulet.
In the Dordogne River region it was duck and goose pate.
And everywhere for breakfast was croissants and baguettes.
Then when we traveled on to Barcelona it was tapas and paella.
No wonder my cholesterol sky rocketed right after returning home.

In the collage you will see sliced baked potato on a lovely beef steak, lamb over a spinach casserole, cheese souffle with mushrooms, paella, and oysters with pate.
The food was amazing as we traveled through France.
Double click on the collage to get a closer look, but beware you might get hungry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dordogne River

Leaving Carcassonne, we drive to the Dordogne River.
A peek from our window at the Dordogne River.
I actually could sit by the window and see fish jump in the river,
boats float by, bird's walking along the shore, and people strolling by.
As we drove to the Dordogne River and turned to view the small village we would be staying in, it took our breathe away. Simply beautiful! Our hotel is the one with the brownish red shutters.
There were once cave dwellings in the hill side just above the village.
The village of La Roque-Gageac. Don't ask me to pronounce it, I never did get it right.

This region of France had many castles, chateaux, and caves, plus beautiful gardens.
We crammed as many sights as possible into our itinerary, then returned to our hotel at night for the most wonderful meals of the trip. We felt like we were in heaven.
Such beauty and just outside our window.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tea in Carcassonne

The' a' la Cite'.
Always keeping my eye out for tea shops, we found this sweet little teashop in Carcassonne.
The owner is standing in the doorway. He loved sharing his tea with me and gave me several tastings. He sold Dammann teas exclusively, which is a very old French tea company.
I find their teas very smooth and flavorful. They are known for flavored teas, but did have a few unflavored teas also.
There were only two tables in the back of the shop just for sitting and sipping tea.
I thought for the tea lovers that visit me, you might like to see a peek at the shelves.
I ended up bringing home three teas from this shop, which I am very much enjoying.
Right now I have been sipping Oolong Hazelnut tea. I have also been enjoying Luxembourg Oolong tea, which has roses in it. I am saving the Christmas White tea for December; so I will share in December how that one tastes.

Now just a little "eye candy".
We walked by this shop many times and the colors always jumped out at me until I had to take a picture. There was all varieties of candies and cookies stacked in beautiful, neat piles. They were so beautiful you couldn't help but want to buy something here. I brought home pretty little pink, strawberry lollypops to give at the birthday tea party I did after returning home.

We will leave Carcassonne next week and continue traveling as we finish the travel tour to Dordogne River and then onto Barcelona. I hope you are enjoying the travels along with me. It definitely was a dream come true trip for me and one I enjoyed planning for a very long time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chateaux of Lastours

With the extra unplanned day in Carccasonne we ventured out into the surrounding country side. Approaching Lastours we see a castle on the hill.
There are four castles as seen from the belvedere viewpoint.
The castles are from the 11th century and were built by a father for his four sons.
It was beautiful warm day and we felt we were up for the challenge.
So up the hill we climbed. Walking past the spires of cyprus trees, climbing stone steps, and walking through a stone tunnel passage way we arrived at the top of the hill.

Stepping into the shells of these castles felt like stepping back in time.
I could picture the men in their military garb and the ladies in their dresses. I could imagine lute music playing and food cooking in the ovens.
What a spectacular view and touch with a time long ago.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dancing in the Street

It was the first Sunday in October and their was music coming through the window in our B&B room as we were resting. It sounded like a band was playing outside.
I grabbed my camera and we ran to the sound of the band.
And there was dancing in the street.
People in costumes.
An angel on her papa's shoulders.
And more dancing.

There was even a donkey.
There were people laughing, dancing, and enjoying life.
I took their pictures not knowing what the celebration was.
We thought it happened every Sunday afternoon.

Returning to our B&B in Carcassonne we asked our hostess about the festivities.
On the first Sunday in October anyone that was born within the cite' walls celebrates and dances in the streets. They dress in costumes. The last bride and groom to marry within the cite' walls ride the donkey. The bride wasn't there this year, but the groom was on the donkey.
It was another serendipity not planned, but so enjoyed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Walled Cite of Carcassonne

Click on collage to see the details in the pictures.

Carcassonne, a beautiful medieval city from the 13th century was full of towers, turrets, and cobblestone alleys. We stayed at a lovely, small B&B within the city walls. Staying within the walls for three nights gave us the pleasure of experiencing the days and evenings walking the most amazing cobblestone streets and viewing the sights of the bustling shops and history around every corner. The old part of Carcassonne is referred to as The Cite'. It is surrounded by a wall and mote, just like we have all read in history books. The Cite' has had a wide history of military attacks and has been rebuilt after being destroyed by fire. It was like stepping into a dream and feeling a small bit of what it would have felt to live in a different time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple Things

Whiskers on kittens

Sunshine on the grapes
Tasting grapes
A crispy apple
A child's smile
Lavender fields
Rain drops on Roses
Candles burning on a dark night
Flowers in the garden and in vases in my house
Lovely pot of tea
Walking through the leaves
Wind blowing through my hair
Walking on the beach with the waves crashing nearby
Blue skies
Fluffy Clouds
Sunshine on my shoulders
A hug from a friend
Time spent with a dear friend or family
A good book that captures my imagination
Neighbors dog sticking her nose through the fence for a scratch
Listening to Christmas Carols starting in September

I want to break into songs of joy as I make this list.
These are a few of my favorite "simple" things.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Simple Things Announcement

Tomorrow Christina is hosting a blogging event at Soul Aperature
I will be participating in the event and departing from my travel report for the day.
I hope you can join us.
We will be sharing "Simple Things".
Look forward to sharing with you tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tea in the Garden

This is crazy, but we left Provence a day early.
It wasn't planned and we didn't realize it until we
were almost to Carccassone, France and we didn't
have reservations until the next night.
We went on to the B & B we had reserved for the
next night and she had one room left (out of only five rooms). The room was on the first floor and our lovely hostess said to get settled in the room, open the french doors, and she would bring us tea in the garden. What a welcoming garden it was. It was full of beautiful flowers and grapes ready to pick hanging over the trellis by the breakfast room. It was like sitting in the Secret Garden. It was an amazing serendipity to our travels.
By the way for the tea drinkers, the smaller teapot was for extra hot water to make more tea. And isn't that a pretty print on the teaware, it was from Scotland.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Farewell Provence

We came across several windmills as we drove through the country side of Provence.
I always pictured windmills in the Netherlands, but found them in France too.
Sidewalk cafes were a lunch time delight.
A bigger than life rooster sitting outside an antique shop.
I thought he was very pretty.

A castle in Roussillon. We thought we would tour the castle, but wouldn't you just know it was lunch time and everything was closed except the very fun marketplace in town.
On Friday we will leave Provence. I hope you enjoyed visiting there with me.
It was an area in France full of beautiful sights, quaint villages, and lovely country roads.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Road to the French Grand Canyon

We loved just exploring the country side of France.
My husband (the nature lover) wanted to see the French Grand Canyon du Verdon; so we hopped in the little Peugeot and off we went. There were tree lined roads, lavender fields, windy narrow roads, and beautiful little villages. We sat under the awning having lunch. There was a stop at a lavender shop by the lavender field for some lovely soap. Arriving at the beginning of the canyon there was a lake the most vibrant color of blue I had ever seen. The pictures don't do it justice, but please click on the collage to get a better view.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The village of Lacoste is built on a hill.
We climbed and climbed until we got to the top.
As I walked past these homes I tried to imagine what it would be like to live on a street like this.
At the top is the ruined castle where the Marquis de Sade once lived. The history of the Marquis is a sad one and is where the word "sadism" came from.
Today Pierre Cardin is renovating the castle.
Someday the castle will again be beautiful, but for now it just looks like a castle falling down.

The view from the castle shows the neighboring village of Bonnieux.
Lacoste is a quiet village except for art students showing their art.
While we were there it was lunch time and everyone had gone home for lunch.
The views are spectacular from the mountain top.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Abbey Notre-Dame de Senanque

The Abbey Notre-Dame de Senanque was tucked into the Luberon hills.
Driving around winding roads through the countryside we began to
wonder if we were going to ever arrive. Then around a curve we spotted the abbey surrounded by a field of lavender.

Quoting from Rick Steves travel book:
"This still-functioning and beautifully situated Cistercian abbey was built in 1148 as a back-to-basics reaction to the excesses of Benedictine abbeys. The Cistercians strove to be separate from the world, and to recapture the simplicity, solitude, and poverty of the early Church. To succeed required industrious self-sufficiency-a skill that these monks had. Their movement spread and colonized Europe with a new form of Christianity. By 1200, there were more than 500 such monasteries and abbeys in Europe."

The industrious monks today make lavender products from their surrounding fields. It was past the time of lavender production and the plants had been trimmed into round balls waiting to again produce beautiful lavender next year.
Walking around the grounds was very peaceful.
I did happen upon vespers being sung in the chapel and enjoyed some moments of quiet listening.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Picture Yourself Here

There is much more to share, but for today let us just picture ourselves sitting here.
It is so peaceful there looking at St. Julian Bridge (Pont St. Julian). It is the only bridge still surviving on what was once was the main road from Northern Italy to Provence. It was the primary route used by the Roman soldiers.
Breathe in the beauty of the history around us.
Enjoy the sunshine as we sit taking in the day.
Does this make you want to pull out your paints and put the beauty to paper
or maybe sit there with a book?
Better yet, close your eyes and picture what splendor once walked here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Market Days in Provence

The social event in each community seemed to be market day.
While staying in the Luberon Hill country we thoroughly enjoyed our visits to the markets in Gordes, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and Roussillon. As you can see by the collage there was much to see from the beautiful flowers, cheese, spices, fruits, mushrooms, fish, meat, and vegetables.
I think our favorite market day was in Roussillon where we also found books, vintage linens, and clothes. You know my love of vintage linens. I came home with two vintage bed sheets with the letters embroidered in red, MM. I was very excited with that find and I am thoroughly enjoying sleeping under my MM vintage bed sheets.

Please excuse another collage, but that seems to be the best way to share as many pictures as possible with you. Click on the collage to see a larger view and enjoy the colors of the market place.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Windows and Doors of Provence

Double click on picture to see details.

So much about travel intrigues me, including windows and doors.
So many windows had beautiful colors of shutters with lace curtains behind the windows. Entrances to churches were almost always elaborate carvings. And the decorations sitting outside the door of this little shop were so colorful.
Can you see the grapes hanging above the window of the home on the top right?
The grapes were ripe and ready to pick all over Provence. It was all I could do not to run up and pick them. They also added to the color of Provence.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Luberon Hill country

Around each turn in the road it seemed we came to another beautiful, quaint
village in the Luberon Hills in Provence France.
I was intrigued by each one of them and took so many pictures it is difficult to choose which ones to share. I loved the colored shutters against the natural colored walls, the ivy growing up the walls, and the small tables and chairs sitting in the most unlikely places. And always there was a church tower, each more beautiful than the last one. I was especially in love with the blue touches of the shutters, tables, chairs, and sky. They indeed make my heart sing.

I think we must have visited almost all the villages of the Luberon hills, from Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Roussillon, Gordes, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Buoux, Saignon, Lourmarin, and others I don't remember right now.

Double click on the collage to see the pictures with more detail.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ochre, the Color of Provence

Our first full day in Provence we drove through several beautiful villages and arrived at the hiking trail of Le Colorado Provencal. It was a lovely, balmy day and we were able to hike right up to the cliffs of shades of orange.

The ochre cliffs of Roussillon. We visited Roussillon on another day and again were intrigued by the orange colors in the soil. Reading from Rick Steves book, "Roussillon was Europe's capital for ochre production until World War II." "Ochre is made of iron oxide and clay." "France's ochre is considered tops."

The color is everywhere in the living in Provence from the shades of the buildings to the land. It warms your heart. We bought some ochre pigments to paint with while in Provence. I would love to paint my house a soft, warm ochre color. Take note as I show you scenes in Provence in the next few days and you will see many different shades of ochre.