Our Vacation Rental Homes in Sablet, Provence

Sablet Village, Vaucluse, Provence, France
Maison des Pelerins and La Baume des Pelerins, or "les Pelerins" as we affectionately refer to our dream come true, of owning our own homes in Provence, are located in the heart of the Vaucluse. We thoroughly enjoy hearing from our guests to "les Pelerins" that they feel they are spending time in their own home in Provence. To be a part of village life, Sablet is the perfect place. "Les Pelerins" dates back to the time when the Popes administered the Catholic Church from Avignon, with a Papal Vice-Legat having a residence right here in Sablet. Our neighbor's home was the Vice-Legat's residence. Ours was one of the buildings that housed visitors and pilgrims and was connected to it, as we can see from the internal portals, and the front door of Maison des Pelerins. Hence the name - Pelerins is French for pilgrims. I hope this Blog will help you get to know Provence and live your Provencal Dream.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bandits, Crusaders and Other Travellers

In the last blog, Paul made the following comment:
"Those old men, the wine makers, are the sons of wine makers, the grandsons of wine makers, the great grandsons and so on,  for 50 generations, for 1000 years.   The depth of human-time is palpable. If one listens to these beams, to these stones, one can see the people down through time, in the streets, in the fields, growing the grapes, making the wine, sitting at the little café, telling the stories, and laughing."

     I have also had the same feeling about the Village and our house - the story below tells of one of the times when you just wish the walls could talk!

    Le Plan de Dieu or God’s Plain which stretches  between the towns of Orange and Vaison la Romaine, is a wide open plain – today renowned for its wonderful wines.  When I first saw the signposts,  I thought, “Oh .. how nice – the locals obviously believe that the area is as beautiful as a little heaven on earth!”   

    It is definitely a very beautiful area….
                     BUT…..  the story of the name is a just a little different!

     I recently read in *Mary Roblee Henri’s 1969 novel (A Farmhouse in Provence) that 'Autrefois' - In the old days,  this large open, scrubby plain, was positively  notorious –  known as a place where anyone planning to travel, was quite literally putting their life in God’s hands!  Why?  Because travelers were frequently attacked and robbed by gangs of roving Bandits, that one certainly needed God’s  assistance to make it from one end of the Plain to the other.  Moreover,  no sane person in those times would ever, ever have made that trip at night!

 But that was then ..............                                                                                       Today, the same drive is very, very pleasant.....Particularly at night!

     As I found out, very late one dark February evening, after a long flight from San Francisco, via London and Marseille – when  driving this route  to our then recently purchased home in Sablet - for the first time - by myself – at night.  
What a welcome!  

     Rounding a bend in the road and crossing the Ouveze River, the brightly illuminated Campanile on the Church of St. Nazaire came into view and  
stood out like a beacon against the landscape, casting its glow over our 
"petit village", outlining the rooftops and guiding the way across the dark plain, saying “Bienvenue à Sablet”.


    The Romanesque Church and its bell tower were built between the 12th and 14th Centuries (original building and renovations), on the highest point in the village with narrow "ruelles" (little streets) curling up around the sandstone hill to reach it.

    Since then, the bells have chimed to mark the hour and half hour – keeping time for the workers in all the surrounding vineyards and farms  -  its tall campanile illuminated each night to guide travelers.

    Winding  through the narrow ruelles on my way up to the house under the bright light –  it struck me just how long the buildings that surrounded me, had been standing here.   Place de’l Eglise (Church Square), and the old Rue des Pelerins (Pilgrim’s Street)  - All these streets were named to reflect their  functions…..  Pilgrims? ……….

     As I unloaded the car and took my  bags into the house,  I couldn’t help thinking,  “I wish these walls could talk”. 

     I went upstairs, to one of my favorite places,  by the window in the bedroom,  overlooking the rooftops and the small streets and stairways.

    I must have sat there for ages ......  just marveling that I was looking out over the rooftops of a village where wine has been made  since Roman times;  where the inhabitants had built a stone fortress  to protect from the invading Sarrasins;  where pilgrims and crusaders had taken refuge en route,  in a village that was once a part of the Holy See; where the Papal Vice Legate once lived – next door to our house (!) - during the years when the Pope resided in Avignon;  where the villagers,  giving thanks for being spared from the plague, built the Chapel of St Roch; ....... and fast forwarding ..... where  Sablet’s neighbor Seguret gave shelter  to members of the French Resistance (les Maquis) during World War 11. 

    Yes,  I definitely wish those walls could talk…......
                                                                      Can you Imagine the stories??????

              A wintery view from the upstairs window - very early the next morning

* A Farmhouse in Provence: An American Finds Old Stones, New Wine and Love Among the French    by Mary Roblee Henry first published in 1969.
This  was probably the first book written about buying and renovating a Provencal farmhouse in ruins, Mary Roblee Henry *(probably one of the first American residents in this area  - literally -  their house was in Seguret), described the whole region as  it was during the mid to late 60’s.  I really enjoyed reading this book - all three times!

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