Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Really Secret Village in France

Until now, I haven't spilled my secret of a really secret, beautiful village in France. The one where you go through a magic portal in a stone wall only to find yourself wandering narrow calades, or cobblestone streets. But today I am feeling especially généreuse, so here it goes.

Gordes was our first stop on an excursion out of Avignon one fine day last September. Gordes, in the Luberon, is in the foothills of the monts of Vaucluse. During the Middle Ages, people moved to these fortified hilltop villages for safety from invaders and religious wars.

The town square in Gordes.

While we were in Gordes, which is a perfectly nice village, someone told us about the most beautiful road in the world -- the road to Venasque -- the really secret village of France.

The road to Venasque. (The most beautiful road in the world.)

We came upon Venasque, guarded by a large fort. Disembarking from the car, we went immediately to the ramparts for a photo op.

Photo by Dianna Cramer

"What's this place?" we said.

Always the intrepid one, Richard bravely knocked on a green door.

"Entrez," said someone, enigmatiquement.

We pushed open the heavy door and entered Venasque.
 Two people were already inside.

We encountered a vehicle owned by a Venasquais.
 "Oh," we said, "they must be tiny people."

Cautiously, we began to explore the village.

A place to stay...La Maison aux Volets Bleus (The House of Blue Shutters).
Seems charming enough.

Photo by Dianna Cramer

Une maison avec une porte bleue et les volets bleus.

I met a woman who was sitting on a stone wall.
 A white curtain covered the door to her house.
 It was an old moulin (mill).
 She invited me to go in -- alone. She stayed outside.

It was rather enchanting.

Her kitchen window overlooked impasse Moulin.

I found a small shop with a woman sitting by the window.

This was the poterie (pottery shop) of Hervé Drouin. The shop held vases, jewelry and rugs.

I purchased a pale green necklace. 
The proprietor told me it held magical powers.

My ceramic bead necklace.

I continued to walk down a crooked street.

Photo by Dianna Cramer

The magical powers started to work.
I found green and white pom-pom flowers,
springs of lavender and pink and purple posies festooning a window.

I found the home of la Princesse de Venasque.

Photo by Dianna Cramer
La Princesse habite ici.

La Princesse de Venasque wearing a cloche by Carol Markel whom she met on her visit to the states.

Photo by Dianna Cramer

Hélas, the spell was up. We had to get out of town.

Thus, we traveled on for lunch in Ménerbes.

Café Veranda, Ménerbes
We had a lovely table next to the street.

Menu of the day - 16 Euros
Duck confit served with mashed potatoes with a Bordelaise sauce.
(écraseé is the word for mashed en français)
Baba au Rhum Chantilly 

Richard and I had the duck confit.
 Richard the Younger had a chicken pot pie.
I can definitely say that this was the most delicious luncheon of my trip.

Richard is enjoying his Baba au Rhum Chantilly.
Baba au Rhum Chantilly is a small yeast cake saturated in rum. The chantilly part is
If you would care to make this dessert, here is 

As if a Baba au Rhum Chantilly was not enough, 
we had to buy cookies at this boulangerie .

Speaking of sweet, here is one of my collages which I call Sucre (sugar).

Charming shops in Ménerbes.

If we were to live in Ménerbes, we would choose this house set into the hill.

À Bientôt mes Amis.

 P..S. Mad Men is back!
 I love this brilliant poster in our East Broadway subway station.


  1. Thank you for the lovely tour.
    The House of Blue Shutters sounds like a good name for a novel.
    I am ashamed to say that I have gone on many adventures with you and not paid my dues...I know, bad manners. I hope to rectify that with this comment and a thank you.

    1. Dear Mo'a,
      I am so thrilled to have a loyal reader. I looked at your blog, and I love your art and sensibility.
      I bookmarked your blog.

  2. Oh Carol, Such an enchanting time in the secret village. The old moulin was a really nice surprise, and your latest cloche is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your "secret".

    1. Dianna,
      Thank you, as always.

    2. Je chéris les mémoires de notre aventure à la France