Mastering the Art of French Vacationing
The motto of the past 5 days in Southern France has been “Ohhhh yeaaahh. This is the life” It was first stated by 10 year old Lucia, daughter of friends Kacey and Marianne, as she floated down a lazy river, on a bright blue floaty, eyes closed. Ever since it has been repeated multiple times per day.
The beauty of Vinsobres and the surrounding villages in Southern France is unreal, and yet totally real. All senses are activated. Our eyes are stunned with sites of green and purple rolling hills lined with grapes and lavender. Narrow curvy roads connect quaint “hamlets” or medieval stone towns each with their own castle standing proudly. Markets filled with everything from stinky cheese to soft colorful fabrics can almost overstimulate all senses. Stone bridges point us to the casually flowing rivers nearby.
The sounds are also mesmerizing. The most striking and unique sound that will from now on always remind us of “that time we went to Southern France” is the constant, rhythmic hum of the Segal (cicada). They like to sleep in late like good Frenchies until about 9:30 and play their tune until the sun goes down about 12 hours later.
And oh the smells. My favorite has to be the lavender. It paints the hillsides purple like a beautiful Monet painting and sprouts naturally between crags in the cliffs along the rocky rivers. I like to pinch it between my fingers and take a whiff. Makes me want to take a nap with each inhale.
Along with smell of course is taste. The smooth (and cheap) wines flow like the beautiful rivers and taste just as crisp. Fresh bread, olives, chocolate, pastries, apricots, strawberries, and plentiful amounts of the elusive truffle have also grazed our pallets. Being “full” is an understatement here. You eat until your breath gets shallow, the pants are unbuttoned, and then it’s time for dessert. The French know how to eat, and they eat well. Only the freshest and highest quality food is provided to not just the fortunate and wealthy, but everyone. On average 1/3 of a French person’s income is spent on food. That is compared to 1/10 of the American budget. It didn’t take long to understand why.
And lastly we have the sense of touch. One of the feelings I won’t forget are round smooth rocks beneath my feet as we hiked through the river over small waterfalls, through canyon slots. The water is cold enough to make the 95 degree dry heat unnoticeable but warm enough to make you forget that you are wading in a river. All of the splashing, lounging, hiking, and floating in the rivers were one of the highlights of this trip.
Thank you Marianne, Kacey, Lucia, and Etienne, for welcoming us into your home with such warm and open arms and sharing this beautiful town with us. We will never forget the wonderful times that we had with you all, nor the smells, flavors, sounds, sites and feelings of Vinsobres and Southern France! See you back in San Diego!