|Market in Arles France - Spice Booth-that's Lavendar !|
|Market in Arles - Other end of Spice booth|
|Market in Arles - Fish booth - one of many!|
|Vineyards on the way to our first winery|
|Chateau d'Estoublon - 1st Winery!|
|Chapel At the winery - Wine and Prayer, what a way to live!|
|Back of the Chapel|
|Andrew at Chateau d'Estoublon - Olive trees|
|View as we drove to Winery #2 - Mas De La Dame, Olive|
Trees in the foreground, Mountains in the back
|Vines on the way to Mas De La Dame|
|We made it! After asking for directions several times|
|My little friend - he is sept ans (7 years old)|
|View from Mas De La Dame - Their vines|
|Little town on the way to Winery #3-Chateau Romanin|
|Chateau Romanin - Very Californiaish|
|Andrew talking with his buddy Greg who is behind|
the Piller and very friendly!
|Greg took us into the wine cave - the little barrels are the size|
of those that we are used to seeing in the states, the big ones
|Pink Flamingoes - On the way home|
Saturday morning- all of the kids wanted to sleep in, and they deserved it after their long first week of school. The school days begin at 8:00 and typically end at 5:00 with the exception of Wednesday when they get out 1/2 day at noon in order to attend sporting events/practices. The schools here do not have extra curricular activities such as sports, band etc... so the kids participate in the activities that are offered by the town. Adam went to classes all week, Emma went all week, however, in addition to having 1/2 of Wed. off, she also has the afternoons on Tuesdays off because everyone else is taking language classes ie: Latin, Greek, Spanish. Nathan, only went to school on Tuesday (he is scheduled for Tues/Thurs due to his heavy Hoover schedule) but the teachers decided to have a strike on Thursday so his classes were cancelled. Strikes here are unlike anything I've heard of - the principal e-mailed me and said that some of the teachers may not come in due to a strike, they never know which ones but the pupils will not show up so Nathan should not go. No groups of teachers walking back and forth with picket signs, no organization at all! We are hoping for 2 days of school this week.
Saturday morning Andy and I woke up, got dressed, and headed back to the Arles market which was closing when we arrived last week. We wanted to go back to see the artist that we spoke with as well as browse around the rest of the booths. This market is HUGE - we've now heard that it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the area and takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Upon our arrival in Arles, we were able to promptly find our favorite parking garage and head for the market like pros! We found the artist, chatted with her for awhile, couldn't buy anything due to price and the issue of getting it home to the states but enjoyed looking at her work and talking with her again.
The other vendors were just as you might expect - fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, spices, clothes, ceramic goods, leather goods, olive oil (HUGE olive oil and olive market here) and other miscellaneous goods. Andrew bought a fancy watch because he forgot his in Ohio and needs one in his lab. I bought a very chic new scarf and coat (yes - just what I need, another coat!). The two do not match because I bought the scarf before we saw the coat booth but everything was very reasonably priced! We also bought fresh olive oil, Herbs De Provence, a baby gift (very cute!) and lunch. The sun was shining, temperature was nice and we were both very relaxed.
After about 2.5 hours, we jumped back into our fancy Peugot and headed out of town to our first winery. As we were driving I asked Andrew to stop the car so I could snap a picture and when we did, we noticed the entrance to a winery - AND the gates were open! Yippee - we went in to look around and have our first tasting. The grounds were gorgeous (Chateau d'Estoublon - see above) - beautiful buildings, lovely little chapel, clean bathrooms :), and amazing mountains as a backdrop! Upon entering the tasting room, we were asked (in French of course, but we figured it out!) if we were there to taste the wine or olive oil - "Vin S'il vous plait!" - I didn't realize how much olive oil is produced around here but when we drive around now we certainly notice all of the olive trees. We loved the winery and the scenery surrounding it, we didn't, however, like the wine very much. After touring around the restaurant, yard etc.. for awhile, we got back in the car and headed for Mas De La Dame - a winery that Andrew had e-mailed and received a very welcoming reply from.
Mas De La Dame was NOT an easy place to find. We stopped several times to ask for help - one nice gentleman tried to help - he had pulled over on the side of the road to look at the lovely rock formations and after letting us know that he did not "Parlez vous Anglais", he looked at the name of the winery written on our paper and started pointing and talking as if we "Palez voused a lot of Francais"! We said our "Mercies" and drove in the direction that he initially indicated. After a few twists and turns and miles, we saw a couple of hikers on the road and stopped to ask them for help. We went through the regular "Parlez Vous Anglais?" routine to which they too replied "Non" and then showed them the name of the winery also - we were able to comprend "straight" "trois gauches" and a "droit" - three lefts and a right! On we went and somehow, by the grace of God and the prayer I said in the chapel at the last winery - we made it!
We were greeted at Mas De La Dame (meaning "Women's Farmstead"), in Les Baux de Provence by an older lady, a middle aged lady and a seven year old little boy who were all sitting outside on a ledge, the older lady followed us in to pour the wine. The winery/vineyard was started by two sisters in the 16th century and our buddy, Mr. Van Gogh spent some time in the area in 1889 and actually painted this vineyard/winery - we need to do some research and find the pictures. The building and tasting room were nothing special but the vineyard and scenery surrounding it were spectacular. After a few minutes (and a little bit of spying on us) the little boy stuck his head in the door and very cutely yelled "hello!" - I laughed and stuck my head around the corner and said "hello"! back to him at which, he giggled and yelled "thank you!" - I assume these are the only english words he knew (the ladies didn't know any) and he was very proud of himself! He hung out with us for awhile and then went back outside to whom I assume was his mother. We enjoyed the wines at this winery more than the last and bought two bottles of red - There were five red wines to taste and of those, only two are oaked (aged in oak barrels).
On our way outside we were again greeted by our little seven year old friend who presented me with a couple of pretty little purple flowers - very sweet! I took a couple of pictures and we were off to our final winery of this tour - Chateau Romanin.
Chateau Romanin in St.-Remy De-Provence was equally hard to find and once we found the sign leading to the winery, the driveway was another mile or so long! Half way up the drive, we noticed a big empty field and about 10 gliders at the end - very large planes with no engines - very cool to see.
The outside of this winery reminded me very much of the California wineries - modern architecture and a nice bronze statue - the winery was actually built into the side of the mountain. On the inside, however, even though it still seemed very modern because of it's openness, the decor was romanesque with pillars and beams. Greg, the gentleman pouring the wine was friendly and even opened a new bottle of their best wine - "Le Coeur de Romanin" for us to try. We did like all of these wines, however, due to cost, we purchased only one bottle. Greg was kind enough to slide a heavy large wooden door open and take us into the wine cave and show us the difference between the "grand barrels" and the "petite barrels" - the petite barrels are the same size that we have seen in Napa and Sonoma and the grand barrels are huge. Greg also led us into another area where the stainless steel tanks are kept and explained the Lunar system that is used to mature the wines which consist of the following grapes: syrah, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, mouvedre, carignan, counoise, and cinsault (for reds) and rolle, ugni blanc (for white). Each of the stainless steel tanks were labeled with lunar words "soleil", "lunar", and the names of the planets. The vineyards are cultivated biodynamically - organically-and are in the heart of the Alpilles, in Saint Remy-de-Provence.
After our visit to Chateau Romanin, we were able to find our way to the road home and made it back to the kids by 4:30. The kids had a relaxing day, sleeping, hanging out at home, and even tramming to the closer mall and having Adam's glasses fixed - for free! Around 5:00 we all grabbed our tram passes and headed out to the fancy mall to take a look at all of the sales as they will end on Tuesday - Emma was the big shopper and bought 3 new shirts which she needed! I bought some lipstick, lip gloss and face powder- (Sometime during the day, I had pulled out my cosmetic bag to apply lipgloss because my lips were dry - apparently soon thereafter, I asked Andy to pull over again for yet, another photo shoot - when I jumped out of the car, my whole bag must have jumped with me and I didn't even notice it! When we got home we all searched the car but the bag was gone - all of my lipstick and my favorite MAC powder!) We then headed to Place de Comedie for dinner at a pizza place where the pizzas are just enough for one person to eat - we ate, enjoyed and headed home for the night so we could rest up for a fun day in Carcassonne on Sunday!