I started this week off with a visit from Peggy Kourey who was on a trip of her own through Provence and was nice enough to meet up with me. We had some nice conversation and an amazing dinner at Chez Nous, here in Aix.
On Wednesday, as part of my study abroad program – literally included in the price – I went to my first ever wine tasting. I was a little hesitant since of the wine I’d previously had I hadn’t liked any of it, but I’d technically already paid for it. The sommelier who owned the shop was incredibly nice, though her French became more difficult to understand as the tasting progressed. Surprisingly, I liked everything we had, leading me to believe I just have expensive tastes. However I also learned that my limit is about one glass of anything because by one and a half I had a raging headache.
The big trip of the week was to Gorges du Verdon in the Provençal Alps. The morning started with a trip to a little town – Vinson sur Verdon – which has a nice little market on Sundays where those on the trip could purchase ingredients for a picnic since there are no restaurants in the gorge. Our next stop was the lake – Lac de Sainte Croix – where people can rent paddle boats to travel into the gorge. The lake is actually man-made as a result of a dam built in the 1970s, and it has since become a fun place for camping, hiking, and swimming. Since I didn’t really want wet jeans though and had brought a book anyway, I spent a pleasant hour and a half reading on the shore of the lake and eating my quiche and tarte tatin. Before leaving I hiked around a bit to see more of the lake which really is stunning.
The tour then progressed to driving into the Gorge du Verdon, part of the French Alps, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful river canyons in Europe. Formed by the incredible turquoise-colored Verdon River, the gorge is 25 kilometers long but an even more impressive 700 meters deep. It offers some truly stunning views.
Finally, we visited Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, which is home to the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, built originally in the 9th century, what currently remains is all from the 13th. The chapel was a popular pilgrimage site during the middle ages, and it is still rumored to be a place of miracles, though I think my miracle may have been hiking up to it. The town itself is about a hundred meters up the side of a cliff, but the chapel had to be built even higher. The town is also known for its pottery (faïence) and miraculous waters that actually power the town via a waterfall. One can wish in any of the fountains or fill up a water bottle for a taste of this sweet water that is supposed to change one’s life. It’s a very small town, but very beautiful also with amazing views, and after seeing the chapel, I spent a very nice afternoon eating raspberry and mango sorbet in the shadow of the church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption.
Next week’s blog will be a day or so late since I’ll be traveling all weekend.
Until next time ~