Enjoying Provence While Fine Tuning September’s Tours
Some things in Provence never change. Mt. Ventoux will steadfastly guard the northern horizon, the Luberon will provide backdrop for its perched villages and the rugged limestone summits of the Alpilles will stand white against the Provincial blue sky. Roussillon remains red, the River Sorgue rushing out of its source at Fontaine de Vaucluse is crystal clear and startlingly emerald in color, and the open air markets remain a kaleidoscope of colors, sights and smells of produce, cheeses, sausages, antiques and clothing.
However, some things can change, and it is important as a tour operator to be in the know about these things. Restaurant chefs come and go, traffic patterns are changed, fairs, festivals and entertainment possibilities are different every year. It is important for me to keep up with what is going on in Provence so as to offer my guests the best possible tour.
In light of this, this past July, Tess and I took off for Provence to scope out our plan for the September tours. Our base hotel in Fontaine de Vaucluse was in prime condition. Every day they serve a truly bountiful buffet breakfast with freshly prepared eggs, pates, sausages, dry-cured hams, amazing pastries, croissants and cakes and fruits so ripe and luscious that they create a flavor explosion in your mouth! The pool was open and it was a welcoming place to relax in a lounge chair after a long day of visiting places. The water provided invigorating refreshment and perked us up for our favorite part of the day, our dinner. We visited each restaurant we would be going to on our tours and tried a few new ones to add to our list. Some adjustments were made in restaurant choices. Like I said, some things do change. My goal is for my guests to return home from their tour being able to say that they had some of the best meal experiences of their lives with Joie de Provence Tours.
It’s paying attention to the details that makes a trip run smooth. So I took note of the little things, such as where the tolls were on the roads we would be using, which could be paid by credit card, which by Euros. Where the best parking areas would be for the towns we would be visiting. We actually did a dry run of the entire tour, checking the actual travel times, not to lock us in to anything, the tour remains quite flexible, but to have a good knowledge of the time needed to get from place to place so as not to miss something important. I figured that if we knew the travel time in the high season of July, we would be safe in September. I pre-purchased tickets for events that I knew we wanted to see and might sell out if I waited until September to buy them. Basically, we fine-tuned the tours so that they would run perfectly smooth. And we had a blast doing it!
We met new people, like Oliver, who is the delightful docent in Oppede-le-Vieux’s 13C. church. We discovered new art galleries. We ate an al fresco lunch on a farm high in the Grande Luberon consisting of platters of dry-cured ham, marinated red peppers, roasted wild boar, salads and the best potatoes I ever had. The three hour lunch finished with an assortment of cheeses and sliced watermelon. All of this was accompanied by refreshing rosѐ wine. All too soon it was time to return home. We came back happy and satisfied that the September tours were set and ready to provide the best vacation possible for our guests.