This month-long trip to France had three parts: three days in Marseille, a week in Provence, two weeks in Paris. There were some side trips (Lisbon and Dublin) but the bulk of the travel was in these three places.
We stayed in a complex of apartments in Grillon, converted from a cluster of old houses. Grillon is a nice village, but not “special”. Although to my mind having two boulangerie/patisseries, which means you are never without access to fresh bread and croissants, definitely counts as “special”. When one closes, the other is open.
Its a law in France — there must be enough boulangeries so that no person in the entire country is unable to buy fresh bread every day (another law prohibits the use of preservatives in “French Bread”.)
So every day, one of us, usually my sister, Coby, and/or my friend, Judith, would walk to the bakery and buy enough bread and croissants for our breakfast. That along with the amazing fresh fruit, phenomenal butter, and creamy yogurt was breakfast. And boy do I miss the butter, fruit, and croissants!
Grillon is located in the northern part of Provence, called Vaucluse. They grow wine grapes, some sunflowers, and lots and lots of lavender which was in full bloom when we were there in late June. You know those photos of lavender fields you see on post cards? You think they must be fake, nothing could be that . . . well, “lavender.” But, I am here to tell you that they are real. Of course, I don’t have a photo to prove it — I am one lazy photographer, but trust me, those post cards do not lie.
Right next to Grillon was a slightly larger village called, Grignan. (Try saying those two one right after the other!). Grignan, famous for its chateau where Mme. Sevigne lived and wrote her letters to her daughter, is quite charming. We had a lovely dinner there at a small restaurant called La Poem. No photos of the dishes, but this is what we ate:
- Amuse bouche (almost all meals in restaurants of a certain level start with an amuse bouche, designed to “amuse your mouth” and get your taste buds going.
- Tart of flaky pastry, tapenade, tomatoes, local goat cheese with tomato sorbet
- Leg of rabbit cooked “en cocotte” with risotto made with chanterelle mushrooms
- Cherry “soup” with vanilla ice cream and crispy chocolate cookie
All absolutely delicious, served by the chef’s wife and cooked by the chef and his assistant. Lovely small one room restaurant. Here’s a photo from their website.
They re-arranged the tables to accommodate the 17 adults and two little ones. It was a very special evening. Perfect way to start our stay in Provence.