Chateau de Goult

Luberon Vallery, Goult

Grand Staircase, Chateau de Goult

This drool-worthy staircase is young, relatively speaking, harking only from the 17th century, as opposed to the chateau’s 14th century Salle des Gardes, or the 12th century watchtower. With eight bedrooms (including a dungeon), terrace and balcony gardens, walls two metres thick, a turret, a secret passageway, gardener-and-chef-on-call, secluded pool and valley views to die for in a quaint and untouristy French village in the Luberon of Provence, um, yes, it’s on my list.

Website here: http://www.chateaudegoult.com

Reviews here

Sleeps: 20

Cost: 7-11,000 Euros/Week

Location: here

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French Windows

Perhaps the only thing as lovely as waking and gazing out an artisanal opening across the French countryside, steaming cafe in hand and flaky croissant on the sill, is walking the cobbled lanes and staring up at these pretties, wondering what hearts and hearths lie within.

The windows below were snapped in the following villages of the Luberon Valley, Provence, France: Oppede-le-Vieux, Gordes, Gault, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Avignon, and St. Remy de Provence.

 

The Reds of Rousillon

Rousillon Cliffs

Cliffs of Rousillon

Raised in the south, I’m no stranger to good old red clay. But outside of mud pies and bricks, I never really considered that ruby dirt might have a higher purpose until I made a day trip to Rousillon in Provence. The village, with a whopping population of 1280, sits charmingly atop the cliffs of old ochre quarries, their reds and peaches and yellows mingling in a landscape that looks handpainted. In a sense, it could have been, since the very earth itself was mined to create pigments for the dying of cloth.

Rousillon Quarry

Quarry of Rousillon

A trip to the top of the town and then down into the quarry takes me far, far away from my usual days in France — those hours I like to spend sipping in cafes, strolling cobblestones and scouring tiny antique shops. The earth is scooped out like a bowl, but her sides rise in wavering walls sculpted by the scraping of tools and of rain, leaving behind a landscape that could rival any vision of another world. Note the scale in relation to the people standing near the center bottom of the photo at left.

Rousillon House

House in Rousillon

And of course it’s no surprise then, that the homes and shops, the studios and restaurants of Rousillon are similarly rouged. After all, while the ochres may have brought big money for 150 years (in 1929 a record 40,000 tons were mined here), enough remained to color the town whose inhabitant discovered the formula for turning a dye used since prehistoric times into a fade-resistant and non-toxic coloring agent. Still, walking among the many buildings that so clearly and fancifully echo their humble beginnings in the landscape makes for a singularly whimsical excursion.

Rousillon Pigments

Color for Sale in Rousillon

They say the glorious colors of the earth in Rousillon were created by the receding sea that covered the area millions of years ago, combined with rains pouring against limestone, as well as a mineral called goethite. The endless shades, though, are harder to explain. What I do know is that spending a day in the ochres is a lot more fun than sliding around in the red dirt of home, and staining my white shorts with a little bit of France feels a bit like bringing home some holy water. And hey, in Rousillon, you can bring home all kinds of holy — pigments for the soul.

God-in-a-Box

Boxed Pastries, Gordes, Provence

Isn’t it lovely how boxing a purchase and adorning it with even the simplest ribbon transforms the contents? Granted, this particular box holds French pastries, and French pastries are pretty closely akin to god-in-a-box. But dress up my single euro baguette like this, and I’m just as happy. Throw in the fact that I can lug home my groceries by a ribbon instead of a plastic bag from Bi-Lo, AND tickle my tootsies on mossy cobblestones instead of blistering asphalt, and I’m good for the day.

Paper, plastic, or bring your own? The issue of waste aside, I’m endlessly charmed by efforts to bring a little magic into the everyday.

This particular magical day was hosted by the local bakery in Gordes, a perched village in the Luberon mountains of Provence, France, on market day. Where I also bought a really cool dress off the street, but that’s another post :)