Provence in Autumn is just lovely!

The first snow fell in the Vaucluse yesterday and Mont Ventoux started its shift from being a summer cycling venue to a winter ski resort, bringing with it thoughts of long walks across the hills that are so often out of bounds during the summer due to the fire risk and evenings spent eating rich stews and relaxing in front of the fire.

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Winter evenings will be cosy now in front of the new woodburner

Andy is down at the house at the moment catching up on a few jobs, continuing his French lessons and introducing his wonderful teacher, Marina ( http://www.franci-discendum.com) to some English food classics such as ‘Toad in the Hole’ and ‘Teacakes’ -only time will tell what she makes of them!

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Move over Paul Hollywood – Andy is introducing France to his teacakes!

He’s also spending as much time as possible on his bike enjoying the quiet roads and stunning, colourful views that are delivered by the change in season.

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An autumn cycle along The Veloroute du Calavon on a carpet of leaves

In winter, Provence takes on a different character with the activity and general busy-ness of the summer having gone and the area taking on a much gentler, relaxed feel.

  1. The markets are quieter.
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Early morning coffee in Apt market a couple of weeks ago

They may not be as large as during the summer months, but they are still thriving, bringing the local towns to life and they’re perfect places to spend a morning, stocking up on the fresh, local produce and watching the world pass by over a coffee (or perhaps two!) in one of the local cafes.

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Autumn sees the market stalls filled with Cepes & other mushrooms

2. The roads too are relatively traffic-free.

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The main road between Gordes and Abbaye de Senanque – you can’t stop for a photo like this in the summer!

Whereas in summer the routes to the principal villages are busy with tourists following a well-driven path, at this time of year they’re empty and perfect for cycling. OK it may be chilly and base-layers will probably be needed, especially first thing in the morning, but the peace on the roads is worth it.

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Heading back towards the ‘Petit Luberon’

3. The villages are peaceful.

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Cycling to Bonnieux is a delight for a quiet coffee & pain au chocolat at the Boulangerie near the Church

There are so many villages in and around The Luberon that are classed as amongst ‘Les plus beaux villages de France’ and others that you really feel should be. In the Autumn and Winter they are great places to explore – it’s easy to park and the streets are quiet, giving you the time to slow down and really be able to look up at the buildings or admire the views, without feeling the need to move on to allow someone else to take a look.

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The main square in beautiful Roussillon – I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before without any people

4. The Paths are open to walkers.

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A winter walk & a picnic in the valley between Lacoste & Bonnieux

In the Summer the paths through the National Park and beyond are often closed to walkers due to the high risk of fire. They tend to be open from 5am until midday, but closed after that with wardens patrolling to make sure people are complying. It’s understandable, especially after having seen the devastation caused by the fire just outside Marseille in August. Also walking in the summer heat isn’t pleasant (unless its up a river like le Toulourenc), but at this time of year it’s perfect, with miles and miles of well-marked paths to explore and the ability to really get into the wilder parts of the area – well off the beaten track.

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Crunching through leaves near Lacoste

Over the last few days though Andy has been enjoying everything that the area has to offer at this time of year. He’s been out on his bike covering miles around the Luberon, relishing the crisp air and the bright blue skies.

He’s cycled to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue for the large ‘Toussaint’ Brocante market, which had clearly drawn large numbers of visitors to the town.

He’s popped to Fontaine de Vaucluse to see how high the source of the Sorgue river is and whether it has reached the point where it is spilling over the edge of its basin.

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Beautiful colours at Fontaine de Vaucluse earlier this week

He’s also cycled up the stunning Gorges De La Nesque, not seeing another cyclist at all and just enjoying the views and the peace of the ride.

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Beautiful autumn colours near Methamis en route to the Gorges de la Nesque

The one thing he has really wanted to do though is to achieve his long-held dream of cycling to the summit of Mont Ventoux on his birthday! All the time he has been riding around the area this week the mountain has sat above the landscape teasing him. Tuesday however her head was shrouded in cloud, perhaps a sign of the snow that was to follow?

Sadly it arrived yesterday shattering Andy’s birthday dream again for this year!

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Mont Ventoux with her head in the clouds on Tuesday

I suppose looking on the bright side though at least now we are able to go down when we want so perhaps the weather will be kinder again next year?? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Sharing this post via #AllAboutFrance October 2016 hosted on the Lou Messugo Blog

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14 thoughts on “Provence in Autumn is just lovely!

  1. I must admit that autumn is one of my favourite times of year in Provence. I love the quiet and the smell of wood burning everywhere. Sadly we don’t have a fireplace! After our renovation, we still don’t have any heating. I’m doing a lot of slow cooked stews. The oven being on for a long time warms up the house!

    • It is lovely & I wish I was down there too – as you say the quiet and the smell of wood burning is so nice. I think having the chimney & wood burner fitted was the best thing we’ve done and we won’t regret it in the long run as it heats the house beautifully (apart from the bedroom & the ‘hobbit hole’ on the ground floor, but the boys don’t seem to mind that too much! Looking forward to the slow cooked stews when we’re back down at Christmas.

  2. Sounds like it’s a great place for cycling. When I retire in 2 1/2 years (not counting!) and we have our electrically-assisted bikes, we’ll be there!

    • I know – I really felt for him – his first attempt for his 50th was thwarted by a Belgian Film Crew that had closed the road from Chalet Reynaud to the summit & although he’s been up several times since he would really love to do it in November! As you say perhaps next year! #AllAboutFrance

  3. Ah, my breath just got smoother reading and enjoying this post. I faithfully travel during the ‘quiet season’ and this is exceptionally true about Provence (if I can help it). I’ve just returned from Avignon and Uchaux (a visit to the crus of the southern Rhône) and I especially love seeing the vineyards in fall tones. This is so lovely, and I think I’ll keep coming back to your photos to meditate and enjoy!

    • Thanks that’s so kind of you – This time of year is such a delight & Andy is having a wonderful time out cycling every day & just enjoying the peace. It’s been so nice this year to have been able to be there to see the vines go from their first buds to their autumn colours & no doubt we’ll be visiting a few of the vineyards to buy a few bottles when we’re next there too. So pleased you enjoyed the post #AllAboutFrance

  4. I agree, it’s a lovely time of year in the south, with the crowds gone but the sun still shining. The light in these photos is beautiful. I wonder if the snow stayed because we had some a while ago but it didn’t last. Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

    • Thanks – the top of Mont Ventoux is still snowy & looks as if someone has polished its scree slopes, but the snow that fell at lower levels quickly disappeared! The light in the area is so beautiful at the moment & Andy sent me a photo yesterday from Roussillon where the sky was literally a cornflower blue – just incredible & I can’t wait to get back! #AllAboutFrance

    • Thanks that’s really kind of you- i just love the fact that everything slows down, without closing down like so many of the tourist areas near us in the U.K. I just look forward to heading back out and spending our first family Christmas there. Needless to say walking & hopefully cycling will play a big part of our plans!

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