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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Next Harvest in Provence ..... It's All About Olives

When you bite into a delicious olive, "perfumed" with perhaps some Herbes de Provence, garlic, lemon or orange zest, have you ever wondered, "how in the world did ANYONE ever go from taking a bite of the bitter little berry that grows on an elegant but hardy tree, to believing that they could make something edible out of these?" Thank goodness that some persevering (and probably hungry), soul who lived several millenia ago did!  

By taking the olives through a process of "curing", (to take the bitterness out of them), which involves soaking for several weeks in either brine, dry salt, water or lye, these bitter little berries turn into the delicious and healthy treats that we see throughout Provence on market stands and in stores.

No Provencal  market would be compete without an olive merchant
In July, all of Provence is perfumed with lavender fields in full bloom and ready for harvest.  Then the large bundles of freshly cut lavender appear on market stands to the delight of all market goers.

Late in August and on through September, we are treated to the sights and sounds of the Vendange or wine harvest ..... now .... we're almost ready for the olive harvest, which will bring with it, olive oil mills churning for long hours each day from October until January, as growers bring their newly harvested crop to be pressed for the next year's olive oil supply.

The little olive tree (olivier) in the courtyard at Maison des Pelerins
At Maison des Pelerins, we have a micro olive harvest, and thanks to our caring and industrious neighbors, the olives are cured for eating - in a true Provencal style.  Two years ago, our neighbor Pere Pierre, the CurĂ© at the Church next door to us, rescued the olives that were weighing down the branches of our small tree, just before it started to snow!  He kindly froze some, so that we could have the experience of curing them when we returned.  He and another neighbor (separately) cured a batch each.  The very enjoyable result - an impromptu and fun olive tasting on a warm evening - our first night in the newly purchased Baume of la Baume des Pelerins

Our own olives!
This year - another surprise!  On a recent visit to Sablet, a very large jar of delicious olives arrived on our doorstep, courtesy of our nearby (and very traditionally Provencal) neighbor, Madame Baux.  I went by to thank her, and she said, "I hope it's OK with you.  I picked the olives from your olive tree (l'olivier), and prepared them.  We can share them."  I replied,  "au contraire, Madame - I am absolutely delighted, that you were kind enough to pick and prepare them!"  They were not going to waste AND we have a large jar of our very own olives.  What a luxury.

This year - I look forward to getting back and tasting our olives again - thanks to our very kind neighbors!

A few Provence "Olive" facts  that may be of interest if you are visiting the area between late October and January.

Of course, cured eating olives are readily available at any number of stores, and a market would not be complete without an Olive merchant, but if you are interested in learning more about the process of olive oil milling, there are a number of oil mills in the area nearby "les Pelerins."

The closest in distance is the Moulin a Huile de Balmeenne at Beaumes de Venise, in the center of the village on the Avenue Jules Ferry.  They are open all year round from Monday to Saturday : 9 – 12 a.m. and 2 – 6.30 p.m.  The olive oil from Beaumes de Venise is smooth and fruity - delicious for salads, vegetables, veal and fish.

Nyons, 16 kilometers north of Vaison la Romaine is a well known and prolific Olive Oil producing area. It prides itself on producing some of the best olive oil in France.
L'Institut du Monde de l'Olivier:   olive oil tastings.  Tel: 04 75 26 90  90
Moulin Ramade:  A working family mill which has a large diplay of Nyons Appelation d'Origine  Controlee olive oils and other olive products www.moulinramade.com  Tel: 04 75 26 08 28
Le Musee de l'Olivier:  Tel:  04 75 27 17 22

Favorite Olive Foods:

                                                Catherine's Cake aux Olives 
This recipe , although called a Cake, is savory and served with Aperitifs.  My neighbor served it last year to such rave reviews that I just had to get the recipe.  They were at La Baume the following evening and much to my delight, Catherine found a piece of blank paper and wrote the recipe from memory! 

4 eggs
4 rounded tablespoons AP Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup black olives, pitted and cut in halves
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Beat eggs until thick and light yellow in color.  Fold in flour & baking powder. Add salt, milk & olive oil. Mix gently until just combined.  
2. Coat olives lightly with some flour.  Stir in cheese and olives.   
3. Pour into a greased, floured cake tin.
4. Bake at 375 deg. F for 30 - 40 minutes. 
5. Remove from cake tin right away and serve. 

Tapanade:  Finely chopped or ground olives with garlic, capers and anchovies. It is made from either black or green olives and served as an hors d'ouvre on crisp french bread or crackers. 

Olive Festivals:
Between October and January, a number of towns and villages have Festivals to celebrate the new harvest.  If you are travelling in the area, look out for posters advertising activities in the nearby towns.

Look out for posters advertising "olive" events when you are traveling Provence at this time of year

Late Extra!

                         Have I not always said that we have the best guests at "les Pelerins"?  
Reinforcing that point - Margaret Dennis just sent me this fantastic picture of the Olive tree in the Courtyard at Maison des Pelerins, laden with green olives at the time she was visiting Sablet with Suzanne and Portia

                                                     Merci Beaucoup Margaret!


  1. Great post Marianne. I remember that lovely olive tree in your secret garden.

  2. Marianne, Both the town and the olives of Nyons are spectacular. I remembering seeing olives on that tree when we stayed at Pellerins. Good to know that you have resourceful neighbors. What type of cheese do you use for Catherine's cake or do you vary it?

  3. Thanks so much Suzanne. I usually use either a Vermont Cheddar for a stronger cheese taste, or an Edam for a slightly milder taste. I sometimes substitute green olives too. Super easy but great recipe!