Saturday, July 28, 2007

Arrival In Mérindol

We spent one night in Paris and two nights on the road and finally arrived at our destination : the little town of Mérindol in Provence. We had rented a gîte rural over the internet - this was 1993, remember - and all we had was a tiny thumbnail photo of the house. It was the first property, house or apartment, that we rented in France and we weren't exactly sure what to expect.

As you drive into Mérindol, you can see the remains of the old hill town up above.

1993 was the year that Peter Mayle's book, A Year in Provence, was released as a PBS television movie. We had seen it the month or two before our departure, and that's significant for two reasons. First, the images of the provençal towns just to the north of where we were staying were fresh in our minds. And second, the hordes of Peter Mayle inspired tourists had not yet descended on the Lubéron.

Mérindol overlooks the Durance River on the southern flank of the Lubéron Mountain. The place was mostly destroyed in the middle of the 16th century in an attempt to exterminate members of the Vaudois religious sect. There is a plaque commemorating the massacre at the top of the hill on which the village was built. Some people survived the attack by retreating into the surrounding hill country. The modern village of Mérindol is built at the base of the hill.

Our house was located outside the village, across the highway that runs parallel to the Durance. It was a modern house, probably built in the 70's, with three bedrooms, a spacious living room, and a terrazzo terrace that wrapped around two sides. Despite the fact that the highway was a few yards away and we could hear trucks, it was a perfectly comfortable house and we were pleased to be there.

Our temporary home in Mérindol.

I remember our first night pretty well. We got all squared away with the owner and had gone to the store for some provisions. The evening was warm and we set up our dinner out on the patio. Ken moved the television around to face outside and we watched a movie while we ate. I think it might have been "Coup de Torchon" (1981) because I remember that Philippe Noiret and Eddie Mitchell were in it.

After dinner, while we were relaxing at the table, we realized that we could reach up from our chairs into the cherry tree that over-hung the patio and pick perfectly ripe cherries and eat them. I'm sure we opened a second bottle of wine to celebrate our discovery. The rest is fuzzy. Still, jet lag was beginning to subside and we started to plan what we would do over the next two weeks as "residents" of Provence.

1 comment:

  1. You guys sure were adventurous! Renting through the Internet in 1993! Amazing. And it turned out to be great too. I like the idea of being able to pick cherries while watching TV ;)

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