It’s hard to believe that it’s only 4 weeks since we left the house in Provence & headed back to the UK after a wonderful first summer there.
When we left, the days were still hot (well over 30) and the landscape looked parched and bleached after the long dry-spell & even the leaves on the largest of trees were wilting & starting to fall.
Since then the time has flown by – a blur of boys being back at College, finding time to make jewellery & do Fairs together with just the general chaos that comes with everyday family-life.
So yesterday, as you can imagine, it seemed rather bizarre (but also rather lovely) to find myself at Bristol airport, heading back to Provence. This time I’m down to oversee a woodburner being fitted to the house ahead of the weather turning colder, but will be able to get some other work done too, including furniture painting (now it’s not so hot that the paint dries on the brush) and jewellery making, but fitting in a few markets & bike rides when I can!
Arriving at Nice yesterday I walked off the plane & immediately began to strip off layers of clothes, (it may be October but it was still about 27 degrees), before hopping in the car and taking the motorway towards Aix, crossing The Luberon at Lourmarin and heading across the Plateau (filled with dormant Lavender fields) to Saignon & on to the house
It was a great time of day to travel – the summer visitors have gone, so the roads were quiet and the late afternoon golden light was stunning, giving the bleached rocks of Mont Sainte-Victoire a wonderful pink hue. Even better was the play of light on the Luberon, which made it look as if a dark green cloth had been thrown across the landscape, tumbling in soft, shaded folds down to the valley floor. I love seeing the Luberon like this – it’s simply stunning & I’m sure it is a view that I will never tire of, as are the views across the valley towards Mont Ventoux, again stunning in the golden evening light.
I also didn’t appreciate how much I would enjoy coming back to our own house – it is so different to renting a house (however lovely the rental house may be) and immediately I felt at home, although I did have to deal with a couple of unexpected guests – not least the scorpion that had got caught in the living room rug and a couple of rather large spiders that had made their home in the bathroom!
Autumn is certainly a great time of year to visit the area. It’s still beautifully warm (after the early morning chill has lifted) and probably much better for cycling than the blistering temperatures of July & August. Getting back out on the bike today and heading off on one of my favourite rides to Lacoste, Bonnieux & Saignon was delightful.
The roads are quiet & the queues for the parking in many of the villages have gone, giving the whole area a peaceful, more relaxed feel.
On top of that there are the changes in colour that are taking place in the fields and woodlands of the Luberon. The parched look has gone & the clear light is highlighting the subtle changes from green to gold that are starting to take place.
The vines that were simply sticks with small green buds when we arrived in April are being stripped of their grapes & in some places the leaves are starting to turn. The local vineyards smelt wonderful today as I cycled past.
Then there are the markets, which will now be stocked with the Autumn delights of pumpkins, gourdes, plums and of course a fantastic selection of mushrooms.
It’s also a perfect time of year to explore the area by walking some of the many trails that cross-cross through the garrigue, which was effectively out of bounds in the height of the summer due to the high risk of fire.
I know I have lots to do at the house and I’m only here for a couple of weeks this time, but I’m already enjoying seeing the area we love at this different time of year and will just have to make sure I see as much of it as possible before I head back.