Decorating & Design
October 2, 2014
Vacation In France
Since I was a child, my family and I have spent part of the summer in the south of France. This summer I was lucky enough to spend a month in the Luberon in Menerbes, a beautiful hilltop town dating back to 4 BC. It wasn’t my first time there, but because we settled in for as long as we did, I fell into the rhythm of the village and came home with some of the sweetest memories. Here’s a glimpse of our time spent there.
The house we stayed in is called a mas – a country house typified by plaster walls that keep the house cool on very hot days, a terra cotta tiled roof, a series of rooms built on to each other over time and painted wood shutters that are used every day to keep the hot air out. It was charming and rustic. The house was perched on the high hills of Menerbes, overlooking the wine valleys below.
There was a long lavender hedge off the kitchen patio. Each morning I would take in its sweet, fragrant smell.
As we would walk into town for fresh croissants, this was our view to Mont Ventoux and the town of Gordes.
We took this pebbled road into town, past clouds that looked like prehistoric birds.
And past the painted doors in inspiring hues.
And above the tiled rooftops that looked like paintings.
And then we’d arrive at the upper entrance to the town.
Along the way we would pass these pretty courtyards and secret gardens between the stone walls and wooden gates.
Some buildings with manicured boxwood, turrets and stone railings were especially impressive.
Sometimes we were greeted with a friendly face from above.
Or a sleepy one from below.
Here is a sampling of the freshly baked breads that would greet us in the morning.
My favourite store in town, La Vie Est Belle, was in the bottom of an ancient building that felt like a cave. I loved the antique kilim by the front door but sadly, it was not for sale.
To cool off, people flocked to the river in nearby L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to dip their toes in the bright green waters or paddle around in a kayak.
I loved antiquing at the famous brocante there. I picked up 12 of these brass knobs for a song hoping to retrofit them for my new walk-in closet.
Which worked out perfectly!
Lunches were always languid and relaxed — fresh, simple produce set out in a colourful display.
Or carefully staged culinary masterpieces. Seriously, why can’t we have lunches like this everyday?
And of course there were always fresh flowers and incredible local wines.
We attended a poetry reading one afternoon at the house of Picasso’s ex-wife Dora Maar, which is now an art school. The gardens were absolutely gorgeous with a playful mix of modern sculptures and traditional outdoor furniture.
Nearby Gordes was such a beautiful town, for this exact view. The homes were all built into cliffs like this one.
My favourite part of each day was dining outdoors in the warm air at dusk, like the evening we spent in this relais situated in the vineyards below Menerbes.
Or in the gardens of the Maison de la Truffe at the top of the village.
Or at one of the lovely restaurants lining the streets in town where waiters crisscrossed the streets.
We finished each day by walking through the town’s twinkling glow.
Guided by the clear moonlight to our home away from home in the hills.
For more inspiration, read Hilary Smyth’s blog post about Antiquing In France.