Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1685: "Cinq femmes et moi." Travels in the South of France
By Doug Phillips from Canada, Summer 2009
Trip Description: June 2-20, 2009. Four days in Paris, followed by two weeks based in Ansouis, a small village in the eastern part of the Luberon.
Destinations: Countries - France; Regions/Cities - Paris, Provence
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Day Tours; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; Small Group: 5 to 9
Page 1 of 18: Introduction and Planning
My wife and I have been to the Luberon on two separate occasions - September 2005 (TR 798 Footloose in Paris and Provence) and September 2007 (TR1417: Return to the Luberon) - for a total of three weeks and three days. In February 2008 we began planning another trip to the same area - but with a big difference. This time there would be six travelers, including four female friends of my wife. We had a couple of dinner meetings early on and discussed various aspects of our proposed adventure - including location, costs, transportation, activities. None of our companions had ever been to Provence while only one had ever been to the continent of Europe - a summer in Paris many years ago.
My initial quest, more than a year in advance of our trip, was to locate a suitable rental in the Luberon. On our previous visits we had stayed mainly in the same rural gîte between Menerbes and Lacoste, with three days in a hotel in Saignon at the end of one of our trips. Neither option was suitable or even available this time. I looked into properties in or near Bonnieux, Lacoste, Oppede-le-Vieux, Roussillon - communicating both directly with owners or agents - but none were satisfactory for the composition of our group.
Fortunately, I came upon Chez Westfield, first at VRBO and then on Slow Travel, where there were two positive reviews posted. As I was reading one of the reviews, I realized that I know the reviewer and furthermore I have been to her beautiful home in North Carolina. If Chez Westfield was good enough for Linda, it would certainly suit us. After a couple of emails I was able to book the home for the first two weeks in June 2009 - more than a year in advance. All my correspondence and communications with the owner, Barbara Westfield, over the next year was positive and helpful.
Both in Paris, even more so in the Luberon, our group attracted some attention because of our composition. After a few days in the south, I began to comment on this.
"Cinq femmes et moi," I would observe in a restaurant, store, market, winery, bakery, café. It always drew a response - from the stereotypical shake of the wrist and an "Oo la la", to a pair of thumbs up or even a commiserating hand on my shoulder from the men to a much more subdued reaction from females - a raised eyebrow or quiet comment. I had a lot of fun with it. And people remembered us if we ever returned.
On our arrival in Ansouis I was able to blog - both about our daily activities and to make comments or observations about life in our area of the south of France. A great deal of the daily narrative that follows has been adapted from the blog. So if what you are reading seems familiar, you are probably right.
I hope you enjoy the story of our adventure in June 2009. We had a great time.
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