Monday June 5, Valreas

Provence - oh yes!

Struggled waking up this morning when the alarm went off but managed to get breakfast and get organised and were on the road by 7.30am. It is Whit Monday, a public holiday in France (they seem to have so many of them!) and although we questioned Mercedes about it being a holiday, they said they were working, but we still weren’t sure, but all okay. We spent the morning sitting in the waiting room, not sure what was going on with not understanding the language but eventually at midday Colette came back to us smiling and set to trying to explain what they had done in his limited English and the use of Google Translate. Evidently, they experienced the starting issue in the workshop so understood what we were on about. They ended up rebooting the van’s computer and then it started perfectly every time. Because of its intermittent nature, it will be hard to know if it has been corrected permanently but time will tell. And they charged us very little for the work for which we were very grateful.
Colette at Mercedes looked after us very well.
Popped down the road to find a boulangerie and were surprised to find a large supermarket open – they normally are shut on Sunday’s and public holidays. Ended up doing a big shop and replenishing the supplies. What I love about some of the French supermarkets are the paper bags that are for your fruit and vegetables, no sign of a plastic bag anywhere. Lunch in the supermarket carpark then we headed south with the intention of picking up the route we were heading on last Thursday, but different roads this time.
A nuclear power station on the Rhone

Grignan, looked wonderful as we passed but being a holiday
there were cars everywhere and nowhere to park.

We took the N7, a main national non-toll road and it was quite busy with people returning from holidays. It wasn’t the prettiest of drives, taking us through quite a lot of industrial areas and box store type outlets. Passed by a large nuclear power station on the other side of the Rhone, not a good sight. Finally, after passing around Montlemar we turned off onto a quieter road and started seeing our first fields of lavender, finally we are in Provence. The lavender is only just starting to flower and don’t have their full colour yet, but wonderful to see all the neat tidy rows. I understand they will really start colouring in the next week and by the end of June they will be ready for harvesting. So guess there are going to be lots more photos of lavender!
After checking out an Aire in a village that didn’t look that promising we ended up at the French Passion site of Domaine de Lumian just out of Valreas and what a great spot. Plenty of space and even barbecue tables on the lawn looking out over the vines and the lavender fields through to the town of Valreas and the hills, and the temperature is pleasantly warm not the high heat we had last week. We called into the cellar and sampled their wines which were excellent so topped up the “cellar” as well as some eggs from the family’s chooks.
It was lovely sitting out in the sun and got chatting to several others who were also staying here. Ian got the bikes out and after our dinner we went for a ride.  Just blissful, the light was beautiful and the scent of lavender was wonderful. Another one of those moments that I had to pinch myself to believe I really am in this wonderful place. We cycled along the paths through the vineyards then headed into the old town and enjoyed riding around the streets with very little other traffic. Back through the vines and lavender to camp, a perfect first evening in Provence. 
A really nice spot for the night.

A ride through Valreas
Evening light on the fields.


Anonymous said…
Very envious Meg : )) Those bikes have certainly proved a wonderful success xx Jen
fyi...Whitsun (also Whitsunday, Whit Sunday or Whit) is the name used in Britain and Ireland,[1] and among Anglicans and Methodists throughout the world,[2] for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples (Acts of the Apostles chapter 2). In England it took on some characteristics of Beltane, which originated from the pagan celebration of Summer's Day, the beginning of the summer half-year, in Europe.[3] Whitsuntide, the week following Whitsunday, was one of three vacation weeks for the medieval villein;[4] on most manors he was free from service on the lord's demesne this week, which marked a pause in the agricultural year.[5] Whit Monday, the day after Whitsun, remained a holiday in the UK until 1971[6] when, with effect from 1972, the movable holiday was replaced with the fixed Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May. Whit was the occasion for varied forms of celebration.

In the North West of England, church and chapel parades called Whit Walks still take place at this time (sometimes on Whit Friday, the Friday after Whitsun).[7] Typically, the parades include brass bands and choirs; girls attending are dressed in white. Traditionally, Whit fairs (sometimes called Whitsun ales[8]) took place. Other customs such as Morris dancing were associated with Whitsun, although in most cases they have been transferred to the Spring bank holiday. Whaddon, Cambridgeshire has its own Whitsun tradition of singing a unique song around the village before and on Whit Sunday itself.[9]