Au Revoir to Provence

July 9th, 2012

Our last few days in Provence were bittersweet.  I wanted more time to enjoy our small village of waterfalls and waterwheels.  There was so much life to L’Isle Sur la Sorgue.  We were fortunate to be there during the Summer Solstice.  All over France, in every village, town and city, June 21st is marked by music.  Singers, performers and bands play on street corners, in parking lots and alleyways.

A stage was erected near the restaurant where we had reservations for the evening.  Several bands performed here.

We had a table in front of one of our favorite bistros,  Alcyone.  There is a large fireplace oven inside where all of their meats and fish are roasted.  The first time we ate here I had the kabobs which included meat and vegetables roasted to perfection.  The night of Summer Solstice there was a fixed menu of either Cote de Boeuf Sauce Bearnaise with Frites Maison or Duo de Saumon et St Jacques Sauce Estragon with Riz Safrane.  We both chose the Salmon.

The salmon with a tarragon infused sauce was delicious.  The scallops were wrapped in shrimp.  The ratatouille and rice complimented the seafood.  We sat late into the night enjoying the music and enjoying our desserts of tiramisu and nougat glace sur coulis de fruits rouges.

The next day we drove to Aix de Provence.  Aix is a larger city than the previous villages that we had visited.  Driving and traffic can be difficult.  The famous Rotonde Fountain is at the center of a roundabout off of the main street Cours Mirabeau.  We know it well.  Our GPS got confused when trying to get us out of town after our visit and sent us around it many times.

The Cours Mirabeau is a lovely street lined with plane trees.   There is so much history, so many restaurants, and great shopping venues in Aix that I could have spent so much more time.

The 13th century church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte contains valuable paintings and a recently restored organ.  Next door to this church is the Musee Granet.  We spent a leisurely few hours there viewing paintings by Cezanne, Picasso, and many other painters from the 16th century to the 20th century.

Back in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue we spent our last evening dining at a lovely restaurant on the river.  L’Aparte has a covered patio and although you can’t see it, there is a waterfall element outside of the open windows.

Water is falling just beyond the bushes.

This was my first experience with foie gras and it was a revelation.  I assumed that I would not like it.  Here in the United States there is controversy and an outright ban in California on serving foie gras.  The force feeding of geese to enlarge their livers to make foie gras has been challenged by the animal rights groups.  Putting that controversy aside, I have to say that I loved this foie gras.  It was placed on a sweet, spiced bread and topped with a cinnamon and ginger studded jam.  To me it had the consistency and taste of pumpkin pie.  So all I have to do from now on is think “pumpkin pie” every time I have it.  Voila.

We had been searching at every restaurant for rabbit and did not find it until this last night.  How fortuitous. It was so succulent and well seasoned.  The baked ratatouille style vegetables were also wonderful.

For dessert I had a rich chocolate fondant.

David had a baba au rhum.  This was the second time he ordered this in France.  I think it had something to do with the rum poured over it.

The next morning David brought the car around to our apartment to load our luggage.  The beret says something about his state of mind.

We headed back to Avignon to catch the TVG train to Tours.

One last look at the beauty of Provence and we were off to the Loire Valley.

11 responses to “Au Revoir to Provence”

  1. Sandy says:

    I’m so loving watching your tour through France. It’s giving me such inspiration and enjoyment….we are going in Sept and it’s not getting here soon enough. Can’t excited! We’ve rented and house in Provence for the seven of us…my husband, myself and our traveling buddies.We travel every three years, this will be our third anual trip to Europe. You and your husband look like you’re having the time of your life…I especially enjoy your food pictures. yum yum! I’m obsessing on what kind of purse to carry…noticing your lovely straw purse, I can’t help but ask it you found it to be perfectly perfect for travel? Looking forward to your next stop.
    I’ll be watching!

  2. Love David’s beret. He looks so French in his convertible. Funny about the GPS, maybe it didn’t want you to leave Aix.

    Great post Penny and I adored every thing from the food to the scenery.

  3. The food looks amazing. I am having so much fun seeing France through your eyes. David looks very charming in his beret!

  4. Penny…I haven’t been blogging as much so this is the first post of your trip to France that I’ve read. Oh my, the food looks delicious and the scenery exciting. Now I have to go back and read more!


  5. Pondside says:

    What a treat it is to see this part of the world through your eyes. Just when I think ‘I’d like to see that’ you include a photo. The food, the scenery, and especially your commentary take me away!

  6. What a wonderful trip! I feel as if I’ve been along–well, except for being able to partake of the wonderful food!!


  7. Big Dude says:

    Looks like you guys made the most of your time in France – exploring and eating some great food. I’m mailing your chili powder today.

  8. Barbara says:

    I know just how you feel, Penny. I never wanted to leave. I loved looking at your photos and they brought back such wonderful memories. You’ll have them forever, whether you return or not. My daughter always points to her head as if to say: travel experiences are recorded right there and remembered with pleasure. You don’t even need a camera.

  9. A wave of nostalgia swept across me when I saw your photos. All of my favorite spots in Provence. Your foie gras sounded so luscious!

  10. Robin Sue says:

    Foie gras is delicious, and you are right- don’t think! Your trip to Europe was so different than mine- I noticed how you get to stroll, take your time and enjoy things. Last summer with thre kids- there was no strolling- we ran!! I noticed in many of your photos the wine you were drinking- is it a rose?

    • Penny says:

      Yes Robin Sue, it is rose. The French rose wines are very good and not expensive at all. But if you want to experience a truly great French rose at 20.00 something a bottle, I recommend Tempier Bandol Rose. I think you can order it online. It is the rose that Alice Waters serves at Chez Panisse. I know what you mean about traveling with kids. It is great that your kids are experiencing other cultures with you. Some day the two of you can stroll. But you will miss them.

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