Well, it is time to leave Menton and move on to Provence. Our time on the Cote d'Azur has gone so quickly. Our week in Menton has been absolutely lovely – both the wonderful apartment and the charming town. The apartment has been our refuge with its seductive view of the harbor and Italian coastline.
We did our final bit of cleaning and got an early start. We had a long drive through the Var and Haute Provence regions to our next destination - The Luberon. We took the A10 to Nice and to had our first chance to pay a "péage" on a French Autoroute. It was about 3 euros to go from Menton to Nice. We had enough change and just threw it in coin basket.
We turned off a Nice and headed inland. Initially the area was a patchwork of industrial and agricultural lands. As the valley narrowed and climbed, it became more rural. A short detour took us through a narrow canyon before turning east. The towns had a more ancient and undiscovered feel especially in the light of an autumn morning. Entrevaux spilled town the hillside to the river, a lovely medieval bridge guarding the city. We didn’t get a chance to explore it and it remains on my list of a village to visit.
After about 2 ½ hours from Nice, we reached Digne les Bains. We stopped for a short while at Les Mées to admire the cliffs and have a small picnic lunch. We were making good time so we decided to stop for a short time in Forcalquier. It was about 1:30 and most of the town was closed or at lunch. It had a sleepy feeling as we roamed the streets, a dramatic change from the hustle and bustle of the Côte. The Côte definitely slowed down during lunch but nothing like this. This will take a bit of adjusting.
After a walk through the empty streets, we headed on to Prieuré de Salagon a short way out of Forcalquier in Mane. We arrived just as they opened for the afternoon. It was very interesting. It was not originally on our itinerary but I found in it the Rough Guide. The site consists of the Priory which is from 12th Century and several ethno-botanical gardens. One garden is focuses on plants used in medieval times. Another is a contemporary ethnobotanical garden focusing on plants from the different continents. I saw my first jujube tree. I saw the fruit for sale in L'Isle sur la Sorgue. There are also a fragrance garden.
The shadows were lengthening and it was time to head on. We continued through the sleepy towns of Haute Provence and through lanes lined in plane trees. We arrived at Apt later in the afternoon and made our way to the Hameau Le Parrotier to our next apartment.
It is so lovely – an apartment in a small hamlet or hameau. It has been excellently restored and decorated with modern decor but keeping in a provincial country flavor. Fresh flowers and olive branches decorate the tables. Best of all, is a large basket of wonderful heirloom tomatoes grown by the owner Bruno Adonis and a wire basket of fresh eggs from his own hens. If you read French, here is a bit about Bruno and Katia.
Then it is off to the supermarket in Apt to pick up supplies for the next few days. It is an Auchen supermarket = and very well stocked compared with the markets we found on the Côte. On the drive back to the apartment, the setting sun has turned the countryside gold and we can’t resist exploring. We drive to Joucas and Lioux. The falaise de la Madeleine at Lioux turns golden in the setting sun.