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.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nice Things that Happen on the Way To (and From) Sablet

Spring is here, the weather is warmer and the days are getting longer ...  it reminds
 me of market stalls with mounds of fresh garlic,
 bright red and white radishes, bundles of plump, white asparagus and 
wooden crates brimming with shiny, green fava beans.

The pale green of early Spring in the vineyards around Sablet Village
Pale green leaves  peep out from the dark stems of the vines in all the vineyards throughout Provence. Restaurants near Sablet display their new Spring Menus, and the tulips in the field along the road between Sablet and Jonquieres will be getting ready to burst into bloom, creating a sea of bright red and yellow with Mt. Ventoux in the background.  By now, colorful window boxes will appear in the windows, that were hidden behind wooden shutters during the winter.

Rows and rows of tulips in a field on the road from Sablet to Jonquieres

In a fit of "Springy nostalgia", I started looking through "Spring" pictures and found some that were quite literally, a dream come true for me.  On the way back to California after visiting Provence a few years ago, as is quite common, we stopped in Paris.  Having a longtime interest in the Impressionist school of art and a love of gardening, Claude Monet's house and garden was the natural place to visit.

Let's take a walk through Monet's garden at Giverny....

A great guide ......
"Monet's Passion"  which has been in our bookshelves for many years, is very informative and has beautiful pictures.  It not only provides a wealth of information to read in preparation for a trip, but also gives the you a guide to creating your own version of the Painter's garden, complete with a list of plants.

Two distinctly different gardens were inspired by the painter's love of color and form .....

Claude Monet's garden at Giverny is made up of the original walled garden and the Japanese garden across what then was the railroad, and is now the Chemin du Roy.

The walled garden - the Clos Normand, is a stunning arrangement of garden beds overflowing with colors of the season - in the Spring - pink tulips growing through a carpet of vivid blue forget-me-nots, irises in blues and yellows....

Gravel walkways separate the wide garden beds where it is very common to see groups of excited school children on field trips, hurrying around trying to find 
the plants they on their assignment sheet.
The "Grande Allee" - a wide walkway adorned with climbing rose covered arches, and wide garden beds full of seasonal perennials and annuals leads to Monet's home, with its pink walls and green shutters  that blends so beautifully into the landscape.

Pages from "Monet's Passion" show the Grande Allee in early Spring on the right, and on the left, and "black" tulips growing through a carpet of white and deep purple pansies 

Every garden bed is filled with flourishing combinations of plants of varying heights, grouped by complimentary colors  against a background of fruit trees and ornamentals

The Water Garden ....

Inspired by many of the Japanese prints that Monet was an avid collector of, he purchased the land across the railway tracks, about 10 years after settling in Giverny.

 Today, the railway tracks have become the Chemin du Roy and a passage under the road connects the two gardens making access from one to the other very easy.

The water garden with its Wisteria covered Japanese bridge was the subject of
 many, many of Monet's paintings.  The garden was originally crossed by a
 small brook, which was the site on which Monet had the pond dug.  
Later, the pond was enlarged to its present size.

Today, the house, studio gardens and buildings are maintained by the Fondation Claude Monet at

Giverny in Normandy, is a very pleasant drive of little over one hour  from Paris. You can also take the train from Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris on the main line Paris-Rouen-Le Havre.  Click here for information on getting from Paris to Giverny You will also find information on full day and half day trips to Giverney here. 

For information on purchasing entry tickets or to purchase etickets, click here

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tous au Marche - Let's all go to the Market!

 It was getting close to vacation time - only a few weeks away.  Back to Sablet and Provence.  Time to start packing and getting all those, “before we go” jobs done.  Start with the suitcases ….. yes they’re ready to start ….. wait a minute …. What’s this in the zipper compartment on the outside of this one?

    Dated Lundi 21 Juillet 2008 (Monday July 21 2008 ... 2008 ... really?), is a Sud Vaucluse edition the daily newspaper La Provence, carrying a front page headline and large color picture beckoning, Tous au Marché (everyone to the market).  It invites readers to take a tour of 120 markets in the Vaucluse, every day of the week in different towns and villages.   As I read on, this article and just the thought of the Provencal markets makes me feel good – always filled with characters and good natured stall holders who  love talking with and getting to know their customers.  They’re always ready joke with you, to share a recipe or make sure you know the best way to launder that table runner to keep it looking beautiful.  They love to know where you are from, and what really surprised me was, how many had visited the US – amongst the most common reactions – “love san Francisco – very European”  “Las Vegas is amazing ”  “New York – formidable”.

    Each vacation, we try to get to new markets in towns and villages we haven’t visited yet.  It’s a great way to start your sightseeing tour – with a true flavor of the local scene, lunch at a outdoor café or perhaps even better, pick up supplies for a picnic, followed by an afternoon of exploring and sightseeing. I must admit though that we have developed some favorites. They have become “old friends”.

    Usually arriving on a Saturday afternoon, amongst the first items of business for us is Sunday morning at Isle sur la Sorgue market, followed by an outdoor lunch at Lou Nego Chin (old Provencal for “the swimming dog”) – a small restaurant on the banks of the River Sorgue. Are we really such creatures of habit?   It appears so!  The market gets crowded in the summer, so go early.  There is a great little breakfast café on the rue du Docteur Taillet,  as well as outdoors at the Café de France opposite the Cathedral  - not too far from the scene of “the doggie voleur.”  

Oops!  Mustn’t forget – stop by Lou Nego Chin and reserve a riverside table for twelve-thirty.  Now ….. Spices, fresh produce, maybe a freshly cooked chicken for dinner, cheeses, olives and charcuterie (where’s the stall holder who told me that he’d never be able to afford a new truck, if I was only going to purchase one coil of saussison?  – better go back and see if the new truck materialized) …. Mon pauvre mari makes trips back to the car – lucky we discovered a great parking area not too far away that always seems to have free spots.  Time to check out what’s new at the market this year – linens, what’s new in pottery, don’t forget the artisan made soaps, olive wood items, fabric (absolutely the best place for furnishing fabrics) , anything at all!  I’m in my element here –  must have been a stall holder in a previous life!
     The morning passes quickly, with way too much fun.  It’s time to meet our friends at the restaurant.  One of the most comforting,  yet surprising  things is that the stall holders at the market, owners and staff of restaurants very rarely change, so it’s nice to go back to old friends.  Lunch is going to be fun  – we’re meeting friends who have come from the other side of the world.  Under a large shady umbrella, watching the ducks amble down the river, it’s time to relax with an aperitif and check out the menu.  As As the bells of the Cathedral chime one pm, the market starts to unwind.  Stall holders packing up their narrow tall vans into which disappears everything that made up the stall – tables, umbrellas, merchandise and anything else that was used. The food is great – as usual – the Soupe de Poisson is still great …… and I just can’t resist their Ile Flotant for desert.  Am I really such a creature of habit? 
      Before we know it – it’s nearly three – most of the day spent with old friends -  The friends we have lunch with, the friends at the restaurant and the Market itself – definitely an old friend.  Let’s walk back to the car, put the top down and head back to Sablet ….. ..
After all, we have more “can’t be missed” old friends to visit during the week ……
       Tuesday in Vaison la Romaine ......... early Friday in Sablet and then on to Carpentras     ......…. Just for starters.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Supermarket Shopping in Provence (and France)

We hear much about the Markets of Provence and the small specialty stores that sell the very best of produce, cheese, charcuterie and so on. 

These shops are all around you and they are very much a part of the French life. For instance, it's not uncommon to hear our friends talk about making a special trip to Vaison-la-Romaine, to see Josiane Deal at Lou Canestou for their cheese course at a special dinner - and Lou Canestou is an extremely good choice as they have excellent cheese!

But .... many of our guests vacationing in Provence at Maison des Pelerins and la Baume des Pelerins, have to balance food shopping and cooking the perfect Provencal Dinner, with getting out and about to visit all the sites and scenery that they have come to see, maybe with their young children, and don't have the time to devote to finding and visiting the specialty stores. In Sablet we are very fortunate to have a wonderful little Mini Market, but not all villages have that luxury.

Intermarche Supermarket on the Route de Nyons - Vaison la Romaine

To everyone who falls into this category - I have good news for you!  Provence has excellent Supermarkets!  The quality is excellent - the stores are generally very large and well laid out, carrying a very wide range of foods and other household items. 

Carrefour Market - Orange - just off Exit 22 from the A7 AuroRoute
The larger Supermarket chains are: Intermarche, Carrefour, LeClerc, SuperU and Auchan (this is a humungous store that carries everything from groceries to automotive supplies, clothing, household items and appliances). I'm sure I have missed some, but you will commonly see these stores.  

Super U Supermarket in Vaison la Romaine - Avenue des Choralies  84110 Vaison-la-Romaine
If you are planning a "self-catering" vacation at a rental home in Provence or anywhere in France, it's very easy to find a Supermarket near your destination to stock up on supplies, without having to hurriedly brush up on your French for fear of starving!
The entry to Auchan Market ("Hypermarche") near Avignon (Centre Commercial - le Pontet).. now this is a Supermarket!
It is easy to recognize the layout of most Supermarkets in Provence since they follow a pattern that will be similar to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.  

Do you think there's an adequate choice of cheeses?   ..... browse at your leisure ... and then pick your fromage

There are sections for fruit and vegetables, deli items, fresh meats and poultry, bakery, dairy etc., In Provence (and throughout France) there are however a few practical differences that it will help to know about before you get there.

Let's take it from the beginning ..... 

1.  Grocery Bags (Sacs) ....

Isn't this what a Provencal shopping bag should look like?
 ....  Always take your own bags - Supermarkets in Provence will charge you per bag if you do not have any, and do not want to carry your items out to the car loose in your cart (Chariot).  

2.  Grocery Carts (Chariots) ....

Carts are stored at various points around the parking lot, where they can be picked up and dropped off easily

.... Most Supermarkets make their carts available outside the store - some have carts stored in various parts of the parking lot as well as by the doors.

3.    Keep a 1 Euro Coin handy!  ......

Slide a 1Euro coin into the slot - it releases the lock on the cart .. and you are free to walk around the store!
.... In order to get a cart, you will have to slide a one euro piece into the mechanism that keeps it locked in place to all the other carts.  

When you have unpacked your cart at the end of your shopping trip, simply take the cart back and slide the catch back in and your Euro will pop back out.  
                                                 Don't forget it!

4.  Once in the store, when purchasing fruit and vegetables - place them in your plastic bag, seal the bag and weigh them on the nearest electronic scale. 
Produce must be bagged, weighed and priced prior to checkout. (Picture from Americans in France website)
You will see pictures of all the fruit and vegetables available, right on the scales.  Find your choice and press the appropriate button.  An adhesive price tag will be printed out and ejected from the scales.  Be sure to stick the tag on the plastic bag of produce. If you miss this step, the checker will send you back to do it! (Yes.... it was embarrassing!) 

5.  Checking Out ...
When you get to the checkout, as usual, you will have to unload your cart, but you will also have to do your own bagging. There will be no one bagging, and the checker does not bag your purchases - here is where you need the bags you brought.

Just one more hint:  If you are renting a vacation home, I strongly recommend going to your destination and unloading your luggage, before going to the supermarket (perhaps after a cup of coffee or even a glass of wine).  That way, you will not be leaving your luggage in an unattended car whilst shopping, AND you will have an opportunity to do a quick stock take on items that may already be provided with your rental as this varies. 

I hope you won't have to put the top down on your car to fit all your purchases in!

Happy Shopping and Bon Courage!   

Practical Items:

Large supermarkets close to Sablet are: Intermarche on the Route de Nyons in Vaison la Romaine, Super U on the Avenue des Choralies, Vaison-la-Romaine and Carrefour in South Orange right off Autoroute 22 from the A7.

Most large supermarkets are open from 8am to 7.30pm continuously 
(no closure for lunch).

Here are a few words that may be helpful when you are shopping:

la banque                         - bank
le boucherie                     - butchers
la boulangerie                  - bakers
le bureau de tabac            - cigarettes, also sells stamps,
                                           sometimes newspapers and often is part
                                           of the local bar
le bureau de poste           - post office
le centre commercial       - shopping centre
la charcuterie                  - traditionally the pork butcher, but is more
                                          like a delicatessen, selling
                                          cold meats, quiche, salads, pates                                      
le coiffeur / la coiffeuse   - hairdressers
l’épicerie                          - grocery store
le marché                          - market
la patisserie                       - cakes/pastries (also sold at the bakers)
la pharmacie                      - drug store - chemist
la presse                             - newspapers/magazines
le supermarché                   - supermarket
le chariot                            - cart - trolley
les bonbons                         - candy - sweets
le beurre                             - butter
le fromage                          - cheese
du lait                                 - milk
le sucre                               - sugar
un œuf                                 - egg
le pain                                  - bread
le poulet                               - chicken                           
le poulet fermier                  - free range chicken
la viande                               - meat
une tranche                           - a slice
le vin                                     - wine
le café                                   - coffee
le thé                                     - tea
jus d’orange                          - orange juice
jus de pomme                        - apple juice
les allumettes                         - matches
un sac                                    - bag
un timbre                               - a stamp
entrée                                    - entrance
sortie                                     - exit
sortie de secours                    - emergency exit
tirez                                       - pull (on shop doors)
poussez                                  - push (on shop doors)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dessert Heaven in Provence - Patisserie, Chocolate and Ice Cream - a Feast for Your Tastebuds and Your Eyes!

Ever heard this question...
"What's so special about French Patisseries?" 
Take a look at...
 La Patisserie Peyrerol in Vaison la Romaine, where every single item is a work of art
..... and you have the answer!

Let's browse through this desert lover's heaven..... can't hurt your New Year's resolution too much to look ... can it?

....And you ask, "how many miles does this young lady have to walk or run each day, to work here and yet look like she does?!"

but... its good to know that ...
There's chocolate in your future..... Gemini, Taurus or Capricorn?  Does it matter when your Zodiac Sign is so beautifully represented in Chocolate marbled with gold leaf ...

Here's to a sweet future...

... No need to have presents under these Christmas trees ... and think how easy the take down is!

Always elegant - but NO, they're not magnificent pottery sculptures ... they are magnificent  CHOCOLATE sculptures - the Boule de Noel -  when you crack them open at the end of the meal - 
 more chocolate goddies spill out!

Desert time! Chocolat Framboises - chocolate mousse, raspberry "marmelade" and praline ... that's just the the desert on the left .... it's OK ...  just remember ....there's lots of good walking and bike riding in Provence too!

Something a little lighter? Try a Verrine ... 
perhaps a Baba au Rhum or a Pina Colada in a verrine ....

Maybe something with a split personality!  
Raspberry Millefeuilles or Macarons filled with Creme a la Rose and Raspberries ...

No Patisserie is complete without Pain d'Epice - Spice bread! 
A Cafe au lait and a slice of Pain d'Epice .... miam....miam .....

Thinking of warmer places and days ...Sunny Gateaux with the scent of the Carribean ..... 
Pina Colada Mousse on a biscuit base combined with a "caramel exotique" and chrunchy praline! Perfect poolside snacking!

Bonbons de Chocolat Maison ... Of course!

Had to try these .... and  their Roqufort and Walnut Macarons .... wonder what the seasonal flavor is in early Spring? 

You can find all these treats (and more!) just ten minutes drive from our 
Provence Vacation Rentals -
La Patisserie Peyrerol , 5 cours Henri Fabre, Vaison-la-Romaine, France
Phone: 04 90 36 04 91