Mmm... Just thinking about waking up in Provence makes me feel relaxed. The birds were singing and when I opened my blue shutters in the morning the sun was shining. When the Chauchats first brought us to their house in La Cadière on Monday I felt as if I had known that place my whole life. It really demonstrated that "home is where the heart is." We were cut off from technology for the week and time stood still. In this darling town, nestled in the cliffs, you can see vineyards for miles around and everyone smiles and says, "Bonjour!" It was so lovely!
As they always do, the Chauchats had planned all manner of things for us to do. And I can't say it enough: it's just so nice to have people take care of you! On Tuesday we got a walking tour of the village, which has incredible views of all the surrounding countryside, before walking around a medieval village nearby. We were really lucky that we had sunny and relatively warm weather the whole time we were there. So that day we had a light lunch, accompanied by a local rosé wine La Cadierenne (I'd be interested to see if any of you can find it back home), on the back terrace, soaking up the sunlight. Afterwards they took us to walk around two local vineyards. My favorite was Domaine de Souviou, which also makes olive oil. They have thousand-year-old olive trees on the property, which are lined by rows of lavender. Lavender is supposed to be in bloom in June and July, so that would probably be the ideal time to visit this vineyard. I want to go back! It was beautiful.
Wednesday morning we woke up bright and early to go to the biggest market in Provence. According to the Chauchats, if you're not there by 8 am in the summertime, you'll never find a parking spot. And it's no secret why. Even in the winter their was a huge crowd bustling through the endless rows of vendors. Fish were coming fresh off the fishermen's boats, still wriggling at the stands. It was really overwhelming! And here's a little tidbit: we were talking to a honey vendor and he told us that the darker the honey, the less sugar it has. I never knew this. But then again, I don't come from a land where there are typically at least 30 different kinds of honey to choose from. On the way back, we stopped to see the oldest chapel in Europe. It's pre-Roman and absolutely stunning. In the afternoon we made chocolate chip cookies for visitors. One of Mme Chauchat's oldest and closest friends came over with her sister and brother-in-law and we all went for a walk down to the Roman fountain in town.
On Thursday we went to the seaside (about a 15 minute drive from their house) where I remembered just how much I love the sound of the waves. And then the rest of the day was devoted to baking. Mme Chauchat taught me how to make a "melted chocolate cake" and Sarah made the English cream for it. All I will say about this sinful concoction is that I have the recipe and my family better watch out for me in this year's dessert competition! We took it to a dinner party at some friends of the Chauchats where we feasted on Moroccan food and played with their kids. They were a riot! It really made me think that I'd like to work with younger children in the future. So cute!
Our four days in Provence were the highlight of my vacation. I'm sure I will be dreaming about it forever, especially all the home-cooked meals! Oh the joys of a fully functioning kitchen!