Chapitre 24: An Adventure Afoot in Lourmarin, France

On the official Lourmarin website, the village boasts that it is “one of the best villages in France.” I wonder how many villages in France actually lay claim to this?

Lourmarin

Lourmarin is part of the the “Lubéron région located in the Vaucluse département in the région de Provence – in the south of France.

Lourmarin

Lourmarin is an adorable little village nestled in a hillside at the base of the Lubéron massif.

Lourmarin

In 2012, my université had a day trip to visite three villages in the gion: Lourmarin, LaCoste, and Roussillon. It was an experience NOT to be missed and one to REPEAT!

Lourmarin

I spent most of the morning experiencing the village by foot.

Lourmarin

5 raisons to experience Lourmarin on foot:

  • There’s a Renaissance château. The Lourmarin ChâteauThe village boasts a lovely château with quite an histoire! Château de Lourmarin Fortress The château was constructed in three periods: The fortress was built during the XII and XIII centuries, the Vieux Château was created during the XV century, and the Château Neuf was added during the XVI century. Château de Lourmarin 2To save the château from a proposed demolition during the 1920s, historian and industrialist, Robert Laurent Vibert purchased it. With his death, he left the château (and all of its furnishings/art) in the hands of Aix-en-Provence. Every year, the château hosts artists and writers as well as musicians and various cultural events. Be sure to time it right in order to avoid crowds or be one with the crowd.

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    A fountain at Château de Lourmarin.

  • There’s a cemetery filled with graves and mausoleums from famous artists and writers among other non-famous people. Lourmarin CemeteryFamous author, Albert Camus’ grave is located in the Lourmarin Cemetery. Albert Camus' graveThere’s nothing better than strolling around a beautiful cemetery after a visit to the Lourmarin château.

    Lourmarin Cemetery

    Watering cans at the cemetery.

  • There’s the infamous Lourmarin marché. The village hosts an open market every Friday from 8:30-13:00 in the centre-ville. It’s a great way to experience the city-center!
  • There’s the Lourmarin wine! One great way to experience Lourmarin is drinking un verre de vin de Lourmarin on a terrasse in Lourmarin. Lourmarin wine is made in the Lubéron région and can be purchased at Les Caves du Château (at the base of the Lourmarin Château), La Cave à Lourmarin in the centre-ville, and many other wine caves that dot its winding streets.
  • There’s the Lourmarin architecture. LourmarinOk so Lourmarin architecture ressembles the typical Mediterranean architecture – the différence being in the colors used. For exemple, Lourmarin is famous for its blue shutters while other villages in southern France boast sea green or lavande shutters. There’s no better way to view such gorgeous blues than to embrace the cobblestone streets of the village on foot. Of course, not all the shutters are blue. 1

While one might need some form of transport to get to this beau village, once arrivé, the village can be completely experienced on foot.


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

 

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Chapitre 23: Peddle Boating in Les Gorges du Verdon, France

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No words can describe this beauté that is uniquely carved between two départementsAlpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var.

 

The rivière in the canyon spans over 33 km

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and the sommets of the montagnes can be as high as 2,819 m.

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Les Gorges du Verdon is considered the largest canyon in Europe

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It is also listed as part of a UNESCO world geopark.

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5 Raisons to Experience Les Gorges du Verdon by Peddle Boat:

  • It’s a Gorge.3What more is there to say, really?
  • It offers bold, green water. 4There’s no better way to experience this belle water than to peddle boat in it! 3
  • It’s relaxing. 4The Gorges du Verdon has a way of removing the stresses of daily life and then transporting touristes to paradis! Peddle boating only adds to this relaxation in paradis ideal as it offers touristes a way to vue the canyon from the water in a more relaxing way than in a kayak, for exemple.Sure, peddling may seem tough, but it’s actually quite calming when surrounded by 33 km of incredible limestone rock and sediment. 1
  • It’s got caves! 6It wouldn’t be a true gorges without at least 1 cave….5Many are too small for humains to enter, but they sure do photographe well from the peddle boat!
  • The Gorges is easy to photographe from the peddle boat. 2 There’s no need to fret if your camera is not water-proof because peddle boating is a relaxing ride on the water!

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It may have been a rainy day during my first trip to the Gorges du Verdon, but that didn’t stop the beauté of the gorges from beaming down on us (and even blinding us at times). ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 22: Climbing through the Château in the Comte of Monte Cristo in Marseille, France

Marseille: “C’est sale” (It’s dirty).

Marseille: “It’s The ville (city) of pick-pocketers.”

Marseille: “C’est une ville effrayante” (scary).

These are just a few anecdotes out of all that we were told before making our first memorable trip to Marseille (during my study abroad in Aix in 2012).

Still, these stories and opinions didn’t prevent us from going!

After all, it wasn’t everyday we had the chance to visite a château,

so, we jumped on the Navette and prayed we wouldn’t look like easy targets.

5 Raisons to Comb Through the Château d’If in Marseille:

  • It’s on an îleThe only way to get to the château is by ferry (payant, bien-sûr!). Here’s one way to take a step back in time: (ignoring the moderne ferry ride) Once stepping foot on the île, take the prisonniers walk. 
  • It was a prison. There’s nothing like embracing the past through prison walls marked by anciens prisonniers…and it’s prisonniers mythiques as well. For exemple, Edmond Dantès was contained at d’If in Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas’ (1844). Dumas’ novel gained enormous succès: It was translated around the world and adaptés and/or inspirés into 23 films. There’s even a salle in the château dedicated to these adaptations and stories. 
  • There’s an echo spot on the roof. With easy access to the roof, this spot is a must-try!
  • It’s free for personnes ages 25 and under. Other free tarifs: Passe Éducation (aka TAPIF assistants), Personnes handicapées and his/her accompagnateur, Carte Culture, Carte ICOM, and unemployed personnes with an Attestation from Pôle Emploi (the unemployment agency).
  • There’s a café. First of all, this is France. There Should be a café (it was expected); if there wasn’t, I’d have been déçue. Secondly, there’s no better way to enjoy a glass of vin before the ferry arrives than in front of a Château Médiéval.

QUICK: Practical Information:

  • Ferry costs: 10.80€/round trip (Vieux Portd’If and vice-versa) – Ferry hours for Frioul-If Express (weather permitting) can be found here.
  • Château costs: 5.50€/regular entrée, 4,50€ reduced entrée, free (as previously mentioned) for 25 or younger, Passe ÉducationPersonnes handicapées and his/her accompagnateur, Carte Culture, Carte ICOM, and unemployed personnes with an Attestation from Pôle Emploi (the unemployment agency).
  • Château hours: (weather permitting)  2 Janvier – 3 Avril 10:00-17:00 (daily); 4 Avril – 2 Octobre 10:00-18:00 (daily); 3 Octobre – 21 Décembre 10:00-17:00 (closed on Monday’s)

Le Château d’If isn’t the only thing to do in Marseille.

There’s also the Vieux Port,

The Porte d’Aix,

and the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde

– just to name a few…

Marseille is no Aix, but it certainly has quite a lot to offer touristes – juste don’t forget to make a climb up the Château d’If! ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 21: Déception in Saint-Tropez, France

Saint-Tropez was an excursion that I took during my studies in Aix.

I had heard so much about Saint-Tropez that when the possibilité of a trip to the ville halted in front of me, I jumped on the occasion to go!

Although I was highly déçue with how little this ville had to offer (it was small, there wasn’t a lot of activités, and the plage (beach) wasn’t crowded at all – I know this should be a plus, but I heard that hoards of vacationers flock to this place…I guess it was off saison?), I was pleased to spend some time basking beneath the soleil.

5 Raisons to Challenge my Déception of Saint-Tropez:

  • The Citadel de Saint-Tropez. It’s quite the hike to the Citadel, but the vue is worth it! 
  • The marché. While my friends and I were taking in the sights and sounds of this petite ville, we came across an Art Deco marché. Certainement, each ville has its fruits/vegetable marché – but, it’s not every day you see an Art Deco marché!
  • Le PortThe port in Saint-Tropez is full of riche-looking yachts, sailboats, and small fishing boats.
  • Église de Notre-Dame de l’AssomptionYou can see its gorgeously warm-colored tour almost anywhere in Saint-Tropez (even at the top of the Citadel). 
  • La Maison des Papillons. Most villes, including Saint-Tropez, have a Musée d’Art/Histoire; however, Saint-Tropez also has a Butterfly Musée!

Saint-Tropez was nothing like I imaginé: It didn’t take long to walk the entire ville – thus, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, either.

But, it’s quite pretty to admire.

Between the volets violets,

and its proximité the côte,

I managed to find some magique to the ville. ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 20: Parfait Scents of Lavande in Eze, France

Eze welcomed me with fresh scents of lavande…but not the kind that you find outdoors.

An ancienne machine used for juicing the aroma from flower pétales.

No, this lavande was from a parfum factory: Fragonard.

After a lovely tour at Fragonard and some parfum and soap purchases,

I décidé to visite the rest of the village.

It was quite a hike to get from Fragonard to the centre-ville,

but we made it!

It was definitely worth the climb!

5 Raisons to Soak up the Lavande in Eze:

  • Fragonard (duh!). This parfumerie offre an exciting tour in many langues – including Anglais (English) – of the factory: It’s histoire, it’s opération and production, as well as an explication of the Nez (Noses) are included on this tour.
  • La mer. Eze is a coastal village! There’s no better way to enjoy the Méditerranée than relaxing on a plage (beach) within reach of wonderful scents of parfum.
  • La Cité Médiévale. Eze was an ancien village Médiévale. Today, ruines of the château can still be seen! 
  • La Grande Corniche. La Corniche (roads made from the montagne cliffs) is composed of 3 routes that lead into the Méditerranée; La Grande Corniche is the most famous of the 3 – and it just happens to make an apparence in Eze. It was even featured in a car chase scène in the James Bond film, Golden Eye!
  • L’Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption d’Èze. This quaint, charmante église not only boasts of 18th century architecture but it also offre belles vues of the mer.

Eze may be a village but it’s a Must-See for fans of architecture Médiévale (and parfum, bien-sûr!)!

When in Eze, don’t forget to make some time in-between the parfum and the Médiévale ruines to enjoy the côte. ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 19: A Day of Soleil and a Yellow Submarine in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Ah, the next stop on my Study Abroad aventures: Monte-Carlo, Monaco.

It’s no doubt that the petit principauté,

situé off the coast of the Méditerranée and France, is cher; however, it’s also quite beau and inviting…especially when there’s a free outdoor Beatles tribute expo at the time you’re there:

“We all live in a yellow submarine…”

“In an octopus’ garden…”

With its narrow, propre rues

and it’s Palais de Monaco,

Monte-Carlo is a fabulous ville for any touriste (P.S. there are quite a few free things to do, too)!

5 Raisons to Spend 1 Day in Monte-Carlo:

  • The changing of the guard. This free event happens at 11:55am. The guards are so well kept together that I couldn’t help but wonder if they were just a spectacle for the touristes ou if they’ve actually been préparées for combat (Monaco is quite peaceful, so…).
  • Le Jardin Exotique. With its sculptures…and plantes exotiques as well as its wildlife, this jardin lives up to its nom: Exotique! Not only does the jardin offre these exotiques sites, but it also offre a belle vue of the port and the coast of Monaco! Add the belle histoire that is told through its sculptures of sailors…and Andromeda, and voilà! You’ve got the parfait free “attraction”.
  • Musée Océanographique. Although this musée can cost anywhere from 11€-16€ for adultes (depending on low-mid-high saison), it’s a fantastic way to spend a few scorching hours out of the heat.
  • Le port. Monte-Carlo offre a vue magnifique of the Méditerranée!
  • Le Casino de Monte-Carlo. Whether you gamble or not, this casino is a must-see! Its Belle Époque architectural style and, not to mention, all of the films its appeared in give this casino a unique touche…Definitely worth a glass of wine pamplemousse (it’s not everyday you see grapefruit juice on the menu)! You’re sure to feel like royauté once you see the first fountain! 

Monte Carlo is a petite ville, which makes it great for a day (and/ou soirée) trip

– I suggest hitting up the fameuse ville during  your trip to Nice (the villes are only a 30-minutes car ride away from each-other). ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 18: Nothing but Nifty Beaches and Musées in Nice, France

Nice was the first séjour during my study abroad expérience in Aix.

I was hypnotisée from the moment I stepped foot on the pebble plage, or beach.

Sure, it wasn’t the most plage idéale, but it was a nifty one!

After walking down the plage, I found myself on the Quai des États-Unis:

But, I wasn’t in Nice just for their plages

I also went to the marché

and I enjoyed a culture spectacle

while I was admiring some bonbons

and debating whether or not to buy some dried tomates!

As I embraced this Baroque ville,

I took avantage of the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine: I toured churches, palais, and musées that were not normalement ouverts au public.

Chapelle de la Miséricorde (no intérieur photos allowed)

It was an amazing, un-photographed expérience.

(Except, the extérieur…)

But, my Nice-acquisition-de-l’histoire didn’t stop at these belle places, I also entrée in Palais Lascaris (the only one that allowed photographie – sans flash, bien-sûr!).

  

5 Raisons to Hurt Your Pieds Walking on a Plage in Nice:

  • The water is crystal claire!

There’s no better way to relax your sore pieds than taking a dip in the claire water!

  • The vue!

The vue of Nice from the plage is breathtaking!

  • A lot of plage, few people. 

I guess a pebble plage doesn’t attract as many (there are still touristestouristes like a sable plage, thus leaving you with plenty of rock to soak up the soleil!

The pebble plages are naturelles: The pebbles are washed down and deposited from the Var and Paillon Rivières/Fleuves – an activité that has been in place for eons.

  • Pic-nique free of sable!

Ever get tired of finding sable in your sandwich? Ou worse, not being able to tell if it’s sel (salt), or sable mixed in with your chips? A pebble plage will let you eat in paix!

  • Calming vagues (waves).

If you like surfing, then Nice is not for you. However, if you’re up for a nice relaxing stroll on the pebbles or a nice relaxing dip in the water, then Nice is definitely for you!

Soaking up the soleil with some lavande ou olive noir (ou stracciatella) flavored gelato is my kind of idée of a vacance université outing.

Add the gorgeous volets…

and, bien-sûr, the musées, palais, and churches for a bit of fun hors du soleil and voilàThe parfait vacance! ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.