Monthly Archives: July 2018

Lavender of Luberon

Bonnieux village is 420m high on the Luberon mountain range; Haute Provence, south France

The first day of Nathan’s summer vacation took us to the picturesque Luberon region where John had planned a bike trip with the three of us. Luberon is a large mountain range in Haute Provence, ideal for Lavender cultivation which needs at least an altitude of 300m. So was the plan, but as usual, one has to have a plan B as well. Plan A – by train to Avignon, by bus to the village Apt, and a second bus trip to higher located Bonnieux to rent bikes.

Preserved history in Bonnieux village

Bonnieux is a refined historical village with steep narrow streets and plenty of panoramic views. The 12th century church peaks out above the village, whereas a second church dating to the 19th century is the one for daily use as it is on lower ground. People who live here must have an excellent physical condition as not many of the streets are horizontal, but wind steep-up or steep-down. So it is for visitors, exploring this lovely place is a real workout and .. truly rewarding for body and mind.

A panoramic view from Bonnieux overlooking the diverse orchard landscape

The centre of the village gives a full panoramic view of Luberon and we discovered several purple-colored patches that indicated lavender fields, with one on walking distance. Intending to use bikes to explore the area, we noticed that the bike shop was closed, and we turned to plan B – to walk to the nearest lavender field we had seen from high up. In spite of the hot sun, this was easily done. We took it all in – the view of the lucid purple flowers complemented by the dark green foliage of the tall Cypresses and the silver-green of the small Olive trees.

The lavender of the Luberon region; Provence, France

Lavender flanked by Cypress trees

Nathan in his element at the richly colored environment of Luberon; south France

The lavender fields have a magical presence in the landscape. Lavender is grown for the flowers and for the oil that is extracted from the flower spikes, having a calming effect on one’s skin and on one’s mood. Typically here in Luberon, tall Cypress trees border the lavender fields, both plant and tree are native to the “Old World” symbolising good health, long life and the power of adaptation … the same qualities required for living in the third millennium!

Marseille Beach Life

The Calanques of Marseille and its beach life

As much as I like the summer sun during the day, I visited the beach area along Avenue Pierre Mendès France during evening hours to experience the soft light that comes before dusk. There was the Nocturne de Marseille happening, a 5km-run organised by the Lions Club of Marseille, dedicated to the association against blindness and help for the visually impaired. Young and old participated in this sunset run that took them through the enticing Borely park to the seaside where the road was closed off to traffic, especially for this event.

Running the ‘Nocturne de Marseille’

A bit farther up, in one corner of the long city coast line, that continues along the Calanques, you can see what many people do after work – they go to the beach with family and friends. Contained parking lots can be found along the avenue, and large grass fields stretch to the sandy beaches where people picnic, play games, do yoga, skate board, jump on a trampoline, ride the ferris wheel, and take a dip in the Mediterranean sea.

The Red Lion is a popular meeting place after work; Marseille

Along Avenue Pierre Mendès France; Marseille 

Crossing Avenue Pierre Mendès France; Marseille

The beach area is well visited but is not noisy. The quiet atmosphere that the dusk-hours bring makes it even more special. It is a relaxing affair for taking photos although the light keeps changing fast as well as the sky colors, and brightly lit subjects turn into silhouettes. I noticed three friends standing at the deep colored sunset while being completely absorbed in checking their smartphones. Lovers of nature while keeping themselves active on WhatsApp.

Family and friends at the beach; Marseille

WhatsApp?

The river L’Huveaune ends here in the sea, and with the sunset-calm it looked perfect. The small river has its source about 50km away at the 1147m-high mountain-ridge Sainte Baume, and finally winds itself through the city of Marseille, joining the Mediterranean sea here at La Plage – The Beach. The last part of this river is used for canoe and kayak training.

River meets sea

The best colors happen after the sun has set, adding even more to the magic. At the busy intersection La Plage, Churros are sold, a fried dough pastry of Spanish origin that is served with hot chocolate. That, or Italian ice-cream – gelato, at the next shop. This is also the area where a circus would park its caravans and plant their huge tents, and where summer parties for the young are organised by the local government. Marseille beach life is quiet yet dynamic.

Churros, anyone?