Living in Provence (For A Week Anyway)

View From Upper Terrace

View From Upper Terrace

In the past when I’ve visited old stone cities in Europe, perched on hilltops, I’ve always imagined what it would be like to live in such ancient buildings, walking every day on streets paved with rocks or bricks, opening unscreened windows to the air with other houses tight up against my own walls.

View From Our Window

View From Our Window

Now I know what it’s like, at least for a few days. David and I are staying in Vaison la Romaine, a small bustling city with a “new town” and an “old town,” both being very old by American standards. First settled in the 2nd century BC, Vaison la Romaine has a history of townspeople moving back and forth from the lower city on the north side of the Ouveze River to the upper side on the south, depending on what war was going on and who needed protection from whom. We’re staying in the medieval upper (as in further up the hill) city where the Count of Toulouse built a castle on a rock above the upper town in the 12th century.

Behind the Gate

Behind the Gate 

The lower town has impressive Roman Ruins, an outstanding Provencal Romanesque style Cathedral and Cloisters and streets busy with cafes and shops. The upper town is a maze of stone buildings (many built with stones from the Roman ruins during a particularly large exodus from the lower city to the upper) and streets with alleys and walkways circling in and out of squares centered around fountains.

Roman Ruins and Ancient Pot

Roman Ruins and Ancient Pot 

We arrived late on Friday night after a long day of train travel and negotiating our rental car out of traffic in Lyon to head south for Provence. The friendly owners of the AirBnB where we’re staying had made us a reservation at Le Bistrot du’O and we ate our delicious dinner (what dinner on this trip hasn’t been delicious?) and fell into bed. Our small flat is a long room with one window on the front facing out on Rue de Fours, the bedroom behind curtains at the back. It’s like sleeping in a cave, which suits me fine. But the owners have made it clear that their three level terrace off the back of their apartment upstairs is ours to use as we wish, and we’ve spent hours under the grape arbor, having lunch, reading, and drinking Cotes du Rhone wines that are impossibly inexpensive here.

Lunch Under the Arbor

Lunch Under the Arbor

Yes, we’re enjoying Provence immensely, spending a few days living in a medieval city, which is as delightful as I’d always imagined it would be.

Welcome to Provence

Welcome to Provence

Through the Ancient Gate

Through the Ancient Gate

Old and New

Old and New

Cloisters

Cloisters

Cathedral From Cloisters

Cathedral From Cloisters

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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6 Responses to Living in Provence (For A Week Anyway)

  1. It must have been an awesome experience. That is what I like to do when I do some slow travel. Taking the right time to relax, enjoy and living the experience.

  2. chrispolean says:

    It all looks exquisite. Does every part of the city look like it’s carved from stone?

    Sitting under the Arbor seems like it would be relaxing, especially with a light breeze.

  3. John Bowers says:

    Grace:
    Beautiful posting. We miss being with you.
    John & Jeanne

    • Grace Mattern says:

      You would love it here. We went on a wine tasting drive yesterday and now we need to figure out how to get all this wine back to the U.S. Or you could come to Tuscany and help us drink it. 😉 We miss you too.

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