provence day 4: the luberon and the lavender

Wednesday was lavender day.  Or it was supposed to be.  I assumed that all of Provence would just be full of lavender.  That the train would suddenly round a corner and you'd see nothing but fields of purple.  This is not the case.  Aix-en-Provence is actually too far south for lavender, so we really had to search for it.

We began our hunt in a darling little village called Lourmarin.  As we parked the car it began to rain,
so we ducked into a dark and cozy cafe to wait it out.  In between down- pours we found the Chateau de Lourmarin, a huge old castle with a wine cave underneath.  After sampling every wine in the cave, we wove our way through the Luberon all day, stopping for "degustation" (wine tasting) and trying to find one field of purple.  I could have explored every town where we stopped to ask for directions to the lavender.  Each one was more picturesque than the next; they say some see Paris through rose-colored glasses, but I saw the Luberon through rose (and Cotes du Rhone and Burgundy) filled glasses for sure.  Several hours later, after many miles of forests, vineyards, sunflowers, wine, laughs (especially after one of the cellar masters asked Sujata if she worked for us), and even more complaints about Joey's driving, we finally found the lavender.  I couldn't believe how good it smelled when I rolled down my window.

Our light heads soon turned into heavy stomachs, and after an entire day in the car, with shaky knees and sighs of relief, we returned to the cottage and piled out of the car.  While Sujata napped, Joey wished for his pillow but accompanied me to finally explore the tiny town where we'd been staying all week.  It didn't take long to walk through Vauvenargues (pronounced Voo-ven-ahg) and find the 17th-century Chateau of Vauvenargues, burial site of Pablo Picasso.

Chateau of Vauvenargues
We employed our cottage kitchen one more time that night, cooking chicken and pasta in a delicious pancetta, arrabiatta sauce.  Exhausted and thorougly defeated, Joey passed out early at the cottage while Sujata and I wandered back down to Vauvenargues to investigate the sounds of the pre-Bastille Day celebration heard from our patio.  Upon realizing we would have stood out like sore thumbs at the celebration, we wandered back to Picasso's chateau under the moonlight.  It was so. creepy.  We both swore we heard a ghost's cackle, and ran full-speed back to our cottage.  We woke poor Joey up to calm us down, then Sujata and I talked long after he fell back asleep, until we were too tired to let any ghosts keep us awake either.

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