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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jetlag

Some time ago, I came across a great article on Fodor's blog about the10 best ways to avoid jetlag.
I started to write about it and .....
having spent many sleepless nights, I  decided to add a few of my own favorite ideas on battling Jetlag..... So .... some of these are in Fodor's article and  many are my own experiences. Hope they help with your next trip...




With the Christmas and New Year Holiday travel season coming into  full swing, it's important to make the most of the time you have at your destination(s).  Laying awake in the middle of the night, waking up at 2am - 3am and being drowsy all day while you should be out enjoying your destination is enough to make anyone irritable - irritability being one symptom of jetlag.

1.
 Start your anti-jetlag campaign even before you board your flight.
 During the week before your travel, start to adjust your internal clock.  Gradually shift your sleeping and eating times to coincide with your destination. Then once you arrive, it will be easier to adapt to the local time.  For instance, traveling from California to France which is nine hours ahead - start by going to bed a little earlier and  waking up a little earlier each day to put yourself closer to French time.  Doing that will also adjust your eating times to work better when you arrive.





2.
 Pack well ahead of time and try to be as organized as possible.  Making a list of "must take items" helps quite a lot and cuts down on the stress of getting away. 
  Dealing with all the details at the last minute really takes its toll on the first few days of vacation.

3.
  If you have an afternoon or evening flight, and it is at all possible, try taking some time to relax  before your flight. 
Having a massage, if possible is a real help.
It helps you to relax and gives a jump start into your vacation - as soon as you board.


4.
  Overnight flights help - as you can have dinner soon after take off and then go to sleep.  Depending on the number of time zones you cross, you will usually arrive at your destination in the morning - much easier to start your daily routine.


5.
 
During the flight ..... Stay hydrated. 
Drink at least 8ozs of water for each hour of your flight - even if you are not thirsty.


6.
  
If you wear contact lenses, clean them thoroughly before your flight,
and use eye drops while you're in the air. 
When you sleep, you may want to remove your lenses
.
 
7.
 
Your carry on pack should include:
 a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm
and hydrating spray with essential oils (not just water), to spritz your face with. 
Be sure to use it inflight  - and please note that all liquids must be TSA compliant.
.

8.

 Limit or avoid alcohol in flight. 
Cabin air dehydrates and altitude exaggerates the effects of alcohol
(a rule of thumb is one drink in the air equals two to three on the ground). 
Make sure you drink at least one glass of water to each alcoholic beverage,
as a drink might help to relax you, but it can also worsen the effects of jetlag.
 

9.
 Try to sleep on the plane - especially important when you are traveling overnight
or when you're flying from west to east.  
Don't forget eye shades and neck support pillow.
 It's also good to include a shawl as one of your clothing layers
 - to double as a blanket for keeping you warm when sleeping.





10.
 After arrival, go out for a walk
 - get plenty of sunlight which helps to reset your body clock to your new surroundings.



11.
  At your destination, try to do activities appropriate for that time of day. 
Try to stay awake until bedtime.

 
12.

  When you go out for your walk, do a little shopping.  Pick up a few snacks,  fruits and drinks - it sometimes helps if you wake up in the middle of the night and it's dinnertime back home. 
Having  a quick snack when you wake up, often helps you to get back to sleep.




13.
Now ..... if having done all of this ... you still wake up in the early hours of the morning and can't get back to sleep  .... be sure to have a good book!


Most of all ... relax, enjoy ...... Bon Voyage and Bonnes Vacances!  Joyeux Noel! ..... Bonne Annee!
 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Decorations in Provence

In Paris, standing by the Arc de Triomphe looking down the Champs Elysees towards the Place de la Concorde at Christmastime,  the scene is magical! The trees on each side of the grand boulevard glitter with lights, and the Christmas trees and reindeer in snow scenes glitter at intersections along the way.  At the other end of  lighted Ferris Wheel near the Place de la Concorde completes the picture, while richly decorated shop windows along the way adds to the festive atmosphere.  Shoppers and visitors to Paris, line the sidewalks until late into the evening.

I have always loved this scene of the Champs Elysees at Christmas, but sadly this is not my picture, I found it on a great blog - blog.paris-on-demand.com
Welcome to Avignon Christmas Market in the Place de l'Horloge
 

  Avignon and its Place de l'Horloge bordered by sidewalk restaurants and completely filled with the wooden chalet Chrismas Market.  As you make your way towards the Town Hall, the streams of lights and  beautiful Carousel is quite breath taking.
but.....

What is 10 meters tall, glowing red and white, and sits in the middle of a Roundabout, at a busy freeway off ramp in Avignon?

Thanks Corinne for this great photo!  www.leFestindeCorinne.fr
 Pere Noel  ....  of Course!

I couldn't resist this picture that one of my Facebook friends, le Festin de Corinne ** posted last week - and she very kindly gave me permission to post here. 
Hard to miss  -  a 33ft tall Santa Claus or le Pere Noel, as he is known in France, sitting in the middle of the Rond Point (Roundabout), leading to one of Avignon's busiest Shopping 
Malls - the Centre Commerciale at Le Pontet.
Can you imagine the delight on the faces of children when they see this display?


The Cours Mirabeau under a canopy of lights for its entire length from the fountain all the way to the center of town
In Aix-en-Provence - the "Paris of the South", the beautiful Cours Mirabeau - Aix's grand boulevard is lit by a canopy of lights from the (grand) fountain at its beginning, all the way to end in the town's shopping/dining district. Both sides of the boulevard are lined with little wooden chalets - all a part of the Aix Christmas Market,  that stay open well into the evening.  The town bustles with restaurants full of diners and the shop windows sparkle with colored lights that decorate their displays.

Trees are lighted in the Place du Montfort - Vaison la Romaine
In the smaller towns such as Vaison la Romaine and Carpentras, trees are lighted, shop windows decorated and there are lots of street decorations - But -  in the small villages of  Provence, it's the residents who make decorating their village very much a community activity.

Beginning in early December, you see groups of neighbors placing red hand made bows and other decorations on street signs and buildings. I was amazed at the community spirit, as I watched a group of residents decorating their corner of the road between Vacqueyras and Sablet with bows and holly one evening in early December.  They were having so much  fun - talking and laughing, as they made their way down the road hanging bows and attaching sprigs of holly as they went. The owners of  the row of houses on that main street, had pinned bows on shutters and all the way along their front fences and placed their Christmas trees by the front windows so that the twinkling lights could be seen from the road, while the town had a set of lights greeting towns visitors with "Joyeuses Fetes" (Happy Holidays).

Madame Bonnet our Fleuriste in Sablet always has a pretty display of Christmas plants and flower arrangements







In our village of Sablet, there is a lighted Christmas tree in the Village Square right outside the Maison de Retraite (Retirement Home), and local artists decorate the shop windows with Christmas bells, holly, Christmas trees and ribbons. 

At the Boulangerie in Sablet, there's always a great selection of Christmas breads and pastries



In Sablet, the Cafe des Sports and Pizza Comme Di have their windows colorfully decorated, inviting Patrons to come join into the festivities

In Seguret, our closest neighboring village, shop windows are also decorated and residents decorate their homes on the outside, to add to the festive atmosphere  in the village.

In Seguret, residents along the main street in the village decorate the exteriors with garlands, bows and a lighted star.
Seguret - homes in the main street decorate their windows with garlands and hang decorations on the potted plants outside.
 The thing that I enjoy most of all about Christmas in Provence, is spending time with our friends and neighbors.  Provence is great in the Summer, lots of activity and bustle, but in the Winter and around Christmas time, there is time to relax.  It seems that every evening we were with a group of neighbors who invited us to join them for aperitif or dinner or in one case a birthday party.  It is a great time to wind down and have fun with family and friends, great food and great wine.

Joyeux Noel!

**Le Festin de Corinne - Corinne is a chef who specializes in Provencal Cuisine and holds cooking classes in Mazan, a village near Sablet.  Corinne also is available as a personal chef if you would like to treat yourself to a very special dinner "chez vous" when you are in Provence, or .... have a cooking class in your home (or vacation home). You can learn more about Corinne and find some wonderful recipes at her website: www.leFestindeCorinne.fr

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Santons - Provence's Little Saints


The Little Saints of Provence, or "Santons" as we know them, are a much loved and a very visible part of life in Provence at any time of year ...... at Christmas ... they really come into their own!

    Prior to Christmas,  the neighboring Village of Seguret hosts an "Exposition" of Santons.  Master Santonniers prepare an interpretation of their Village, and show how the Nativity scene and the Village would have looked at the time of Christ's birth
In this display, the Santonnier added a backdrop of a map to show where this scene is set
  
Every Christmas Market has several displays of Santons for market goers to take home 
to decorate their own Creches.  My previous Post about the Christmas Markets in Provence has many pictures of the Santonnier's Market Stands, so I have not included any of those pictures  in this Post.    In Provence, at Christmas you will find the little saints decorating shops, restaurants, markets, airports ... and of course, homes.

All the Village is there, with gifts to pay their respects to the Holy Family
The Manger is set in an open room, that is still characteristic of many Provencal homes - usually outfitted with a Kitchen and often referred to as a "summer room", where the family can cook and eat outdoors, yet out of the strong midday sun.


This Nativity is set in a Cabane - a Provencal sheep herder's shelter that is often seen out in the countryside

Santons were first seen at a Christmas Fair in Marseille in 1803, but their popularity spread quickly and Santonniers (makers of Santons), became one of the fixtures of each village.  

These artisan Santonniers lovingly and painstakingly produce the small statues 
either carved out of wood, or formed out of clay.  
After sculpting the Santons, the Santonnier 
carefully hand paints each figure, then dresses it.

Notice the small planter box of  wheat or lentil shoots at the bottom right  - another Provencal Christmas Tradition. On the 4th December, each family plants seeds of wheat or lentils and carefully tends them throughout Advent.  When the Nativity is laid out on Christmas Eve, the newly grown grass becomes a part of the Nativity scene.  The growth of the      grass tells how the next growing season will be.... if it is tall and straight - the season will be a good one                                  .... if is spotty or weak - the season will not be good.
Originally made to  represent the  figures seen customarily in the Nativity scene, the characters were soon expanded.  Since legend has it that Jesus was born in Provence, each Creche is decorated to show how the village as it would have been at the time of Jesus's birth.

All the village is on their way to pay their respects to the Holy Family - all the characters are included.

.......  we mustn't forget the Musicians!



The Nativity is shown in the village, so it is necessary to include the village residents. The butcher at work, the baker, the lavender lady carrying her bundles of lavender, the fisherman's wife taking her basket of fish to market, the Mayor, the Ladies who dance the Farandole etc., whatever was appropriate for the village.  In many villages, Santonniers actually carved the faces to resemble those in the village!


This Santonnier, placed the Santons against a  backdrop of painted canvas to show the setting of a small valley and the surrounding  craggy rocks


Right here in Seguret, Sablet's closest neighbor, Master Santonnier Phillipe Fournier practices his craft in a small workshop on Rue Poterne.  The workshop is also open throughout the year  for visits and sales. Each Christmas season, Seguret hosts an Exposition des Santons, which features Master Santonniers from throughout Provence. 



The elaborate scenes  are set up with interpretations of the Nativity Scenes from various parts of Provence. If you are planning to visit the area at Christmas and would like more information about the Exposition it is held at: Chapelle Sainte Th├Ęcle - Salle Delage, 84110 SEGURET   
Tel. : +33 (0)4 90 46 91 06        E-mail :  
The entrance fee is 2 Euros for adults - children are admitted free of charge.

Masion des Pelerins - our Santons spend their time in the bookshelves decorating the library area
Santons are made in a variety of sizes from the small for the average creche to a size that is commonly used as a part of the normal decorations in a home - such as the Tambourinaire (drummer) and the Lavender Seller  who decorate the bookshelves at Maison des Pelerins.

The Mantlepiece at Restaurant le Martinet near Sablet, decorated for Christmas with large Santons
These delightful "little Saints" are as synonymous with Provencal Christmas traditions,
  as are the "Treize Desserts".

Late Extra!
Last Saturday, I visited the 3rd Street Sale in San Francisco and met Veronique Evenhouse - the owner of Petite Provence, a Provencal store in Santa Cruz that sells wonderful table linens and all things Provencal.  Veronique told me, that even though she does not have Santons featured in her online Catalog, she does have some at the store.  If you would like to buy some for this year, give her a call at  (831) 462 2120; Email: veronique@petitprovence.com  or visit her website: www.PetiteProvence.com