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.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Window Shopping in Provence

Dec 4th was St. Barbe's Feast Day which was the beginning of the "Calendales" in Provence.  After the tradition of setting up three saucers of wheat which will grow from now until Christmas, until Christmas Eve most Provencal people will set about Christmas shopping and getting ready for their celebrations with friends and family.

We've taken a tour of Avignon's Christmas Market so now ... let's take a walk through some towns and villages to look at the store windows and "lecher les vitrines" - let's go window shopping at Christmastime in Provence.

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Bistro Marie in Isle sur la Sorgue decorated for Christmas
            Green Christmas trees and snow covered trees spilling out onto the street ..

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - chocolate christmas trees from Peryerol

Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate Christmas trees ... so yummy to eat.

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - good things come in small packages ...

Elegant white and gold Christmas trees with pretty wrapped goodies beneath

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Twinkling lights and a glittering red Christmas tree cheer up this Pharmacie in Isle sur la Sorgue

This glittering red tree for a merry and bright Pharmacie

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Sushi and Chocolate and lots of stars

 Twinkling Christmas stars lead to a warm place on a cold, winter's night

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Santa's workshop

Santa's workshop ... overflowing with toys of lots of good girls and boys

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Santas Elves are busying themselves here in Carpentras

Santa's Elves make lots of toys to fill all the shelves!

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - a kid's paradise

A snowy scene filled with Christmas candy to fill "les petits souliers" ("Christmas shoes" take the place of Christmas stockings).

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Chocolate art that sure to appeal to any young future firefighter

                       A chocolate fire engine and a fire fighter's helmet - what a treat!

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - decorated as a photography studio for Santa models - window in Carpentras

One of Santa's helpers getting ready for a photo shoot .. amongst some great gift ideas

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - lots of ideas here for your Christmas decorations - Isle sur la Sorgue

Lots of elegant gifts and decorations for La Maison

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Ready for a white Christmas in Isle sur la Sorgue

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Twinkling lights, tinsel and ladies in traditional Provencal costume performing the traditional Farandole dance

Twinkling lights, tinsel and ladies in traditional Provencal costume dancing the traditional Farandole 

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Holly and Ivy with green and silver bows - elegant home decor

 Holly and Ivy with elegant green and silver bows

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - something stylish for Madame or Mademoiselle

.. And for Madame or Mademoiselle .. a stylish new Christmas outfit?

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Snowy shoes

Shoes from the festive Lulu Shoes...

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Madame will certainly find some accessories here for her new Christmas outfit

and to accessorize ... tulle and bows, perhaps a scarf or hat

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - very festive Hairdresser

A visit to this Salon de Coiffure ... is sure to put anyone in the Christmas spirit

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - very festive Hairdresser

Don't forget the Optometrist, filled with purple and white balloons 
- must be able to get a good look at all your gifts! 

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Santa's ready to help you find your new home

Santa's waiting in the window of the Real Estate Agency to show you to 
your new home just in time for Christmas!

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - If driving lessons are on your list, the Auto Ecole is right here for you

If driving lessons are on your list, Auto Ecole is just the place to visit

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Christmas dessert is ready and waiting

Christmas dessert - the traditional Buche de Noel, beautifully decorated a
nd ready to take home

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - Santa and his friends are ready to go off on their ride in this store in Vacqueyras

Christmas Eve approaches ... Santa, his reindeer, polar bears and other friends at the North Pole are on the job making sure he is on time with all deliveries.

Christmas in Provence - window shopping - On the twelfth day of Christmas ... is the Epiphany or Three King's Day

On the twelfth day of Christmas, all of France celebrates La Fete des Rois with the traditional Galette des Rois.  Here they are beautifully displayed and complete with crowns for the last celebration of les Calendales (the Christmas Season).

                                                          Happy Window Shopping!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let The Good Times Roll ... Provence ... Petanque & Pastis

Provence ... Petanque and Pastis ...   does any other combination of words, fit together more naturally?
This delightful print by artist Guy Buffet that hangs in our breakfast room, tells the story of a favorite Provencal pastime
During the Spring, Summer and Fall look at any graveled parking lot, sandy spot in a park, beach or open space and the chances are that you will see one or more groups of men in peaked (or baseball) hats, gathered around, looking down at the ground, often with measuring tapes or arms outstretched making very strong gesticulations. As the measurements are discussed and disputed the gesticulations become greater and the voices a bit louder, until at last capitulation by the looser and everyone turns to their glass of Pastis for a refreshing sip.  What is this all about?  Petanque of course ... and Pastis!

This old postcard set in Marseille displays just how intense with anticipation the atmosphere around a game of Petanque can become.  
Uniquely Provencal, both Petanque and Pastis originated in Marseilles area.  Petanque is definitely a local adaptation of what was the game known as Boules (even though you often hear the two names used for what is really Petanque).  Although forms of the game can be traced back to Greek and Roman times in Provence, and those early forms of the game became so popular, that ordinary people were banned from playing it by the Kings of France, until the 16th Century (perhaps they had concerns about their subjects perfecting their rock throwing skills!). 

The source of this picture is www.Painters-online.uk.co and echoes a very familiar Provencal village scene
A more modern form of Petanque developed and in the 19th Century game of Boules had the same rules, but required the players to run (or jump) three large steps before tossing the heavy ball onto a court about 15 - 20 meters long.  That was until a group of creative players from one of my favorite seaside towns of La Ciotat decided to change the rules to accommodate one of their friends who was a popular player, Jules Lenoir was unable to play due to chronic rheumatism.  Instead of the running steps, the changed the rules to require that players stand with their feet together in a circle drawn in at the end of the court - hence the name "Petanque" which is derived from an expression in the old Provencal language that I have seen as both Pes tancats - meaning feet together and Ped tanca meaning anchored feet.

Image courtesy of Brooklyn Boule Blogspot - Le Vrai Pastis and Boules a Provencal match made in heaven!
Pastis - was first made in Marseille by Paul Ricard, who created it's unique taste for his drink (le Vrai Pastis de Marseille) using star anise and a number of other herbs and aromatics found in Provence. At the time, Absinthe had been declared illegal and many people were trying to find a replacement for the popular drink. Pastis soon became a favorite in Southern France where it was drunk as a "long drink" - if you order Pastis, it will come with ice and a pitcher of water - and is usually mixed on a five parts of water to one part of Pastis.  In 1962, Paul Ricard started a four day Petanque Tournament to be played in Marseille - which carries on today and is known as "Le Mondial", thus cementing the relationship between "Le Vrai Pastis" and the most popular sporting pastime in Provence.

Thank goodness for measuring tapes and sticks - I'm sure they save many friendships!

Image courtesy of www.Painters-online.uk.co - Players and onlookers enjoy the game and no doubt  a cool Pastis!
This scene can be seen in any town or village in Provence and has spread to many other parts of France. Although Marseille holds le Mondial in early July each year, any towns and villages hold Petanque tournaments. 

2012's "Affiche" from Sablet's Fete Votive - apart from being a really fun time - a fie day boules competition!
Our village of Sablet holds a five day tournament - on each day of the Fete Votive early in August.  Not so coincidentally, both Petanque and Pastis originated in Marseille or nearby. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Scent Of Provence - A Visit To L'Occitane en Provence Factory

"From the beginning of my life, the scent of Honeysuckle accompanied me to school every morning..." These words from Olivier Baussan - the Founder of L'Occitane en Provence, welcome visitors to the Company's Museum in Manosque Provence - a very scenic and pleasant two hour drive from our vacation homes - Maison des Pelerins and la Baume des Pelerins in Sablet.

To anyone familiar with this brand of beauty and bodycare products, these words would come as no surprise. The essence of all things Provence can be seen in all of their products - made from local flowers and herbs that often grow wild in the hills of this region. On our first visit to this area, driving along one of the country roads with our family - the scent of wild flowers and herbs all around, I remember remarking to my husband, "no wonder perfume comes so naturally to the French!"

What today is a  worldwide Company, began when a 23 year old young man, bought his first steam still and used it to extract the essential oil from wild Rosemary growing in the nearby hills - to sell at local markets.  Through his vision, dedication, creativity and the quality of his work, L'Occitane en Provence is a favorite with millions of its users.

In the Foyer of the Complex, this old Still reminds visitors that this 
part of the world has spent decades and decades gathering fragrant
 flowers and herbs growing wild in the hills for medicinal and cosmetic use

Lavender is ever present in Provence and here we see  
more examples of  old stills used for  distillation of flowers
We have been huge fans of their products for many years - I really appreciate their use and dedication of local and natural products. Every time I use my hand lotion or use the moisturizing cream, it's easy to close my eyes and let the scent take me right back to Provence.

At the Museum - this display tells visitors about Vervine - a popular local herb, 
used here in  body care products, but is also very often used in herbal teas
The Museum displays also take us through the "years of L'Occitane"
showing how the products have changed and  developed - and styles have changed

We visited the Factory, Museum and Store one afternoon last October and couldn't help but be inspired by what has grown out of these very simple beginnings.  We had booked our tour (in English) through the Visitors Center at Manosque, but arrived a little early and had the opportunity to tour the Museum, before the factory visit, which gave us a good sense of perspective of what the business had become.  

After the tour, of course we had to spend some time in the store which was very well stocked with all our favorites and having taken a tour, we were offered a ten percent discount - which we just had to take advantage of.

Tours are available daily from Monday to Friday with tours in English available. If you would like to take a tour of the L'Occitane Factory and Museum (and do some shopping), it is ESSENTIAL to call ahead and book.  This can be done through the Tourist Information Office at Manosque +33 (0)4 92 72 16 00 (calling from outside France) or the Greoux-les-Bains Tourist Information Office +33 (0) 92 70 26 12 (calling from outside France).  The Factory, Museum and Store are located about 50 kms north of Aix-en-Provence at Z.I. Saint-Maurice, 04100 Manosque 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Walk through a Nearby Village - Venasque

The first time I heard of Venasque was a number of years ago, when Francoise and Jean Pierre - the then owners of Mas Pichony in Pernes les Fontaines, a Chambres D'Hotes (Bed and Breakfast) we had stayed in on many of our visits to Provence, emailed us and told us they were selling the Chambres d'Hotes and would be moving to nearby Venasque - "un tres, tres beau village".  Since that time, of course we have purchased Masion des Pelerins and la Baume des Pelerins in Sablet  and visited many towns and villages in the area.  I'm always taken with the special character of each town or village and Venasque is no different.  It is a quintessentially French village where villagers shop for their daily needs in the few small village shops and everything stops for two hours at lunchtime and the village streets are deserted.

One quiet Saturday morning we took a stroll through Venasque and discovered that it is really as lovely as we had heard it was.

This Picturesque village is filled with pretty cream rock houses and narrow village streets which cling to the rocky hill it stands on.

The ruins of the Medieval wall commonly called "Barrys".  This part of the wall and three Saracen Towers are all that remains of Medieval Venasque

The remnants of the old Medieval Wall show how well reinforced this fortress was - three walls with stone reinforcing in between!

The narrow streets and tall buildings are typical of many Provencal villages, but in this village, the residents take care to make sure it is always neat, tidy and pricturesque

Colorful Virginia Creeper climbs up the walls of a village house adding charm and color to the scene

As we walked through the village, all the petite streets had their own version of Provencal charm and most of the pictures that follow do not need any explanation.  I hope you will enjoy a petit tour of a very picturesque village.

The Eighteenth Century fountain stands in the middle of the village with shops, restaurants and cafes surrounding it in the square.

This cross stands in the church square, in front of the Church of Notre Dame

The Church of Notre Dame with its tall campanile occupies a prominent place in the Village.  The campanile can be seen towering over the landscape as you look up at the village on it's rocky outcrop.

The impressive entry to the Church of Notre Dame 

The magnificent Eleventh Century Baptistery in the Church of Notre Dame was restored in the 19th Century.

The Boy's School and the Girl's School of times gone by.

Venasque -  perched village on a rocky peak at the foot of Mt. Ventoux overlooks fertile plains planted with vineyards and cherry orchards.

During our walking tour of Venasque, we acquired a new friend who accompanied us through the village and all the way to our car, wagging his tail and smiling whenever we spoke to him.

Bye  Venasque .... a beautiful little village and a great way to spend a morning visiting one of 
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, (The Most Beautiful Villages in France),  which we are fortunate to have so close to our home in Sablet