When in Provence ..... Veranda in Ménerbes

We ate what was probably the best meal of the vacation at Café Veranda, a small restaurant in the gorgeous town of Ménerbes. The restaurant has a narrow balcony with superb views in the direction of Mont Ventoux, but we opted to sit in their small courtyard under an olive tree. The food was seasonal, beautifully presented and reasonably priced.

A word about wine lists, if you're a South African trying to dine in France: almost no one in France produces single cultivar reds - they believe the results are unbalanced and 'harsh.' That means in ordering off the wine list you have to know both the region and the actual producer to be able to judge quality and price of what is always some red blend. The Luberon is not one of France's flagship regions, and so winelist prices for a normal 750ml bottle start at about 15 euro. Order one of the brand name Bordeaux and you can easily part with ten times that! However, one thing we wish that SA producers would consider is the availability on wine lists of 500ml bottles - absolutely perfect for an evening out which has to end in a reasonably sober drive home at the righthand side of the road!

A last side note: You saw the photo above of the milky drink? They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. So, when in Provence... Pastis is the most popular apéritif in the region. It is an anise-flavored liqueur, served with a jug of water so that you can dilute it according to your own preference. Our verdict? You have to try everything at least ONCE….. :-)

Cafe Veranda
rue Marcellin Poncet

Image credits: All photography by me

When in Provence ..... Cathédrale d'Images

You don’t really come to this part of Provence to spend time in museums, galleries and exhibition halls. If you really want to, there is a Lavender Museum, Corkscrew Museum, Bread Museum, a Basketry Museum and even a Truffle Museum, but I’d rather save my money and spend it on a spectacular lunch at a sidewalk café, being a student of the daily ebb and flow of life.

There is one quite spectacular exception to this rule. Nestled in the heart of the Alpilles just below the dramatic town of Les Baux de Provence, an abandonned Roman quarry became a museum of sorts. Today this gigantic limestone quarry is the home to Cathedral d'Images, a multi-media show that uses 50 projectors to convert the walls of the empty cavern into a larger than life canvass. The ceilings, floors and 6 meter high walls become the backdrop to an amazing multimedia show, beautifully synchronised and choreographed to a soundtrack written especially for each exhibit. It is amazing to see how elements in a painting come to life (for example Van Gogh’s scarcrows flying away from the scene below), giving another dimension to the well known paintings.

The current theme of the show is “Gauguin-Van Gogh: Les Peintres de la Couleur”. It aims to show the link between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh and to analyse their very different ways of using colour. The show touches on the similarities in their careers, including the explosion of colour later on when Gauguin lived in the Pacific Islands and Van Gogh in France.

So, if you want to go a museum while visiting the Vacluse and be overwhelmed with wonder and enchantment, I know just the place!!




To visit the website, click here or like their Facebook page.

If you visit their website, it says that due to a court ruling, Cathedrale D'Images is evicted. Not sure why it is saying that since we visited in the last two weeks and the notice has been there for a while. Hopefully it is just a temporary glitch?

Image credits: All photographs by me

When in Provence ..... Roussillon

Almost all the towns I’ve shown you in the past week seem to have been brushed with a honey coloured stone paint. If you drive towards the hilltop towns, or if you drive next to the Mountain ranges, especially the Luberon and the Alpilles, the limestone colours seem to flow from one valley to the next.

However, you will always find exceptions, and in the Vaucluse the dramatic Roussillon with its 17 shades of ochre is just that! It is amazing to drive towards the town, and all of a sudden the reddish “mountain” with a town on top of it makes you wonder if you had too much rosé at lunch :-). Go closer and you will notice that the whole village glows in the afternoon sun and all of a sudden Provence gives you a new palette of colours - reds, yellows, oranges and pinks.


Image credits: All photography by me

When in Provence ..... Antiques in l'Isle sur la Sorgue

L'Isle sur la Sorgue is a compact, medieval Provençal town built on the islands of five branches of the Sorgue River. On Sundays (and during smaller markets on Thursdays) the streets of the old town is converted into one huge market selling farm produce, Provençal items such as pottery, linens and lavender and antiques making it the largest marchés aux puces (flea market) outside of Paris. Actually, after Paris and London, L'Isle sur la Sorgue is probably the third most important antique centre in Europe. Over 300 antique dealers from all over the world exhibit here on a permanent basis presenting an astonishing selection of antiques. So, arrive early on a Sunday morning, reserve a booking at one of the waterside restaurants and then spend the morning brocante hunting. It is fabulous.


"The only thing you can't get in l'Isle sur la Sorgue is a bargain"
Peter Mayle

Image credits: All photography by me