It’s time to start thinking summer 2017…but first, a look back at summer 2016. I should have posted this long ago… better late than never. After eight summers of renting our guest apartment to tourists, we officially closed last August – no more paying guests, but time and room for friends and relatives.
It was a rewarding experience. We met interesting folks from many countries. Some have become friends. We learned about their lands.
Austrians Klaus and Eva were our first renters of the season, as they have been every summer for the past six years. We have become friends and are delighted they will come back this year, not as renters, but house sitters when we travel to Germany.
They always arrive with bounteous gifts of Austrian delicacies. A roof rack on their car holds Klaus’ ample supplies for their stay, including Austrian beer and wine. Of course they appreciate Provence wine too, especially summer rose.
Isabelle, who works in a bank, and Jean Christophe, who is in the insurance business, arrived from the Paris region in a spiffy Mercedes convertible. They had been to our region many times and were happy to be back. After a day’s outing, they often played boule in our driveway, although it is definitely not the best terrain for this Provence favorite.
We enjoyed Belgians Jeroen and Anika, both teachers, and daughter Stans. They came loaded down with two bicycles, plus baby supplies: baby stroller, baby bed, a plastic pool, pool toys. They had fun introducing Stans to the big pool. They biked, too.
Jeroen is one of those super cyclists who have conquered Mt. Ventoux many times. “Any serious Belgian cyclist must climb Mt. Ventoux,” he said. He did, as well as the Mountain of Lure which he says is beautiful. “It’s only 100 meters less than Ventoux, but no one knows about it.”
Anika’s passion is markets. They visited six in the region. Her favorite: Apt.
Friends and family also visited in summer 2016. With my brother Steve and sister-in-law Yoshie we enjoyed a mini-trip to visit the fascinating Chauvet- Pont d’Arc Cavern with replicas of prehistoric cave art dating back 36,000 years. The original art was discovered in a nearby cave, but it is closed to visitors to protect the treasures. The replica cave and art are mind boggling.
Step-children Kellie and Rob with grandsons Lang and Sam joined us in June. Good times in the pool were enjoyed by all. Bob even joined in – a mini miracle. He is not a water person, and almost never goes in the pool. I make up for him.
Summer ended with a visit from Colorado friends Kathy and Bob, whom we know from our days n Germany long ago.
Now that I have finally put summer 2016 to bed, time to move on to new adventure and travel. Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka and the Maldives – here we come! Watch this blog.
Please feel free to comment – just scroll down and add your thoughts. Don’t miss future posts. If not already a Tales and Travel follower, sign up (upper right). Your address is kept private and never shared. More photos follow.
Luberon weather during summer 2014 was not the stuff those vacationers from the north expect. The glorious sun that normally blazes every day in July and August, and most days in June, was too often on holiday, taking a rest behind massive clouds. Nonetheless those who rented the apartment at Les Rosiers, our home, did not complain. When the sun appeared, they were happy to plunge into the pool. They also hiked, biked, explored the region and discovered interesting sights. The season got off to an early start with our first renters who arrived in late April for a week, a young French family: Anne, Armand and precious Clement, a veritable model baby. We never heard a whimper. We rarely saw them as they set off early each morning and returned in the evening after a full day of sightseeing. Clement was no problem, his mother told me, as he was accustomed to being in the car for long periods. Amazing! Back for the fifth season, Austrians Klaus and Eva again spent four weeks with us, from early June to early July. Eva is a legal secretary, so Klaus, who is retired, arrives for the first week with his car and roof rack packed to the brim with beer and Austrian delicacies. He always presents us with generous gifts of the latter. Eva flies in for the middle two weeks. They lounge poolside, read, walk in the countryside, revisit favorite places and friends. Klaus also likes to do battle with those nasty wasps that like to drink from the pool and zap you with a painful sting if you are in the way. While in the water, he often walks around, fly swatter in hand, striking the enemies with vengeance. And, he loves to grill. He treated us to a fabulous meal of his specials one evening. Before leaving, he gave me a list of items needed in the apartment, something he has done in the past. This time he said we needed a fire extinguisher, salad spinner, and quality clothes hangers. He showed me one of the metal hangers from the apartment closet. “These are Alcatraz hangers,” he announced, and then explained that at home they use wooden hangers. Rest assured Klaus, all have been purchased. No more Alcatraz hangers. Machteld and John from the Netherlands arrived for three weeks in July. They were content to rest and relax poolside. Machteld came with 20 books. She read 16. John was often on his computer, or photographing butterflies. They raved about Bacchus, a restaurant in nearby Pierrevert that John had found on Trip Advisor. It was so good, they went three times. And, they shopped. Machteld loves to cook. She went home with a car full of French goodies, including plenty of wine. “We love France, the food, the wine, the people,” she said. They spend a summer holiday in a different part of France each summer. This was their first time in the Luberon. Fortunately, they and the other summer renters like cats. We have three, as well as many feline visitors. Machteld showed me photos of her two, one a Maine Coon, and we shared cat stories. Marco and Mireille from Alsace joined us for two August weeks. Marco was smitten with Filippo, a feisty feline who amuses with his antics, often chasing imaginary butterflies. A DJ in the evening, by day Marco manages his clothing stores. In his younger days he was a ski instructor at Val d’Isere. We had some serious ski talk. Mireille works with the elderly in a hospital. Their passion: hiking. They drove to different areas each day from where they set off on long, long treks. Wynand and Evelyn, another Dutch couple, began everyday with a poolside breakfast and swim. They were lucky — there was morning sun. Then, on to the bikes, which they had brought with them, for cycle excursions. ”We enjoyed having a coffee everyday at the Reillanne (our village) cafes,” Evelyn said. They also vacation in France every year, but usually camp near Mont Ventoux, the legendary mountain Wynand has conquered on his bicycle five times. Stef, Ninon and adorable Lise, 1 1/2 years old, came from Lyon where Ninon works as a “chef de cuisine” in a restaurant and Stef is in the communications industry. They did not venture too far, but did walk into Reillanne almost every day, about a 25-minute jaunt, at first up a very steep hill on a bumpy road. Stef pushed Lise in her baby carriage. She was another model infant — always smiling or laughing, a joy to admire. “Thank you for the welcome, the cats for their company, the flowers for their colors, the pool for its freshness and the road for its sweat, “ Ninon wrote in our guest book.
Like my blog? Please let me know. Feedback is most welcome. Leave a Reply below. Coming soon: Incredible Iceland. Don’t miss it. Sign up to become a Tales and Travel follower, upper right. And, see Today’s Taste for the latest recipe.
From Germany, Belgium, France, England, the U.S., Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Argentina — even Romania and the Ukraine — they’ve come. To spend a week, two weeks, or sometimes longer in the guest studio apartment (known as a “gite” in French) on the first floor of our home, Les Rosiers, that we rent to tourists in summer.
It’s been fun and fascinating to meet and talk to our tenants. And, an experience.
Our first guests several years ago were a German couple, he a baker, who came for a week’s get away from their three young children. It was the end of February, but the Provence sun shone. They bundled up in blankets and lounged by the pool, which was all closed up, soaking up the rays.
We’ve found that Belgians and French, all from the north, especially like lounging by the pool in the summer. No doubt they already know the region, so they are content to chill out, relax, and hang out. Not so for most of our other guests who often set out for day-long excursions to sights – near and not-so-near.
“We have really enjoyed our relaxing stay in your lovely gite, we loved this area of the Luberon and having this comfortable, quiet little home to come back to at the end of a day’s sightseeing just made the holiday.” – Pauline and John, N. Ireland, July 2010.
Last summer was the season of cyclists, starting with a couple from North Carolina who had top quality rental bikes delivered from a bike shop in Isle sur la Sorge – about an hour away. They rode every day. Then came a couple from Brugge, also dedicated riders. They brought their own bikes, and after a day’s outing, were happy to come back and cool off in the pool. Francis, a physical therapist, loved to practice his English, which was excellent.
Aled, a Welshman, who came with his wife, Bethan, took the pedal prize. They come to Provence every year, and every year he pedals up Mount Ventoux. Last summer was his fifth ascent. He also intrigued us with his photography.
Aled is a professional who shoots with an Ebony (google it), an incredible large format camera. After their arrival, we heard them speaking and were intrigued. It was not English. They are among the 562,000 of a population of about three million who speak Welsh.
Close behind Aled for pedal prowess was Jakob from Prague. He did Ventoux for the third time. But, more amazing than his skill, was the family bicycle entourage. Jakob, wife Katarina, daughter Laura, 6, and baby Lukas, 1 ½, arrived with five bicycles (two for Jakob), plus a baby trailer, a baby bed and a baby carriage.
And, they pedaled – often all day, the entire family. After Laura got tired, her bike could be attached to Jakob’s. Katarina towed Lukas in the baby trailer. As the terrain here is anything but Holland flat — lots of long and often steep climbs — their stamina and fitness were mind-boggling.
We’re looking forward to our most dedicated guests in June – Klaus and Eva from Graz, Austria. This will be their fourth summer with us, and they stay for a month. Klaus comes first, his car loaded down with plenty of food supplies and Austrian beer. He always brings us generous gifts of delicacies one can’t find here.
Klaus is a gourmet cook and often shares his creations with us. The first summer he gave me a list of supplies needed in the apartment kitchen, including a knife sharpener, kitchen timer, vegetable peeler. Other guests have also made special kitchen requests. The Brits wanted a tea kettle (we boil water in a regular pan). One French couple wanted espresso coffee cups, yet another requested bowls for their morning coffee. All items now in place.
Our apartment has two double beds. German couples always occupy both beds. Not so with French, Belgians and most other nationalities who prefer togetherness and cuddle together in one bed.
“Thank you for sharing your bit of paradise with us…. Your apartment is wonderfully equipped, definitely a home away from home. This was my seventh trip to Provence, but it was by far the most relaxing and satisfying.” Lynne, Columbia, MO, April, 2011.
We’ve been surprised to find how many of our guests comment on the peace and quiet of our surroundings. Many must live in or near big cities. They love the tranquility of Les Rosiers. But, last summer that quiet was scathed one dreadful night. The house across the street is also sometimes rented to vacationers. Last August there was an entire wedding party and a wedding celebration with loud, blasting rock music that went on until 5 a.m. I finally called the police, and the noise stopped soon after.
Our tenants at the time, Jean Luc and Anne from Brussels, were most understanding. We felt dreadful – mainly because that was not the only disaster to mar their stay. They were without television the first week – a problem that required a repairman who, because it was a holiday week, could not come immediately. Then the gas ran out in the kitchen, but we did remedy that in a timely fashion.
We went off to the states in September, leaving our dear and trusty German friends Klaus and Marianne to house sit and mind Les Rosiers where a German couple, Detlef and Susanne from Hamburg, were staying. They became friends, and all was well until the pool turned green. It’s happened before – algae attack. Klaus, with the help of our friend Alan, got things back in order and our guests, again fortunately, were more than tolerant.
“The whole set up here is warm, welcoming and comfortable…Loved the bright garden and rural setting. ..So much to see and do in this area of Provence, and Les Rosiers is an ideal base.” — Janeen and Jon, Australia, May, 2012.
The pool is a Les Rosiers highlight. But never has anyone enjoyed it as much as a German family with two young children who visited several years ago. They were in the water every minute they were not out visiting sights. Playing “fussball” — water soccer. Every time someone scored, the father, louder than the kids, yelled “Tor.” Children, we’ve found, seem to need to scream with delight when they are in the pool. We’re happy to see them have fun, but life is more peaceful with adults.
We love to invite our tenants for an apero, an evening drink and snacks, and a chance to get to know them. We’ve had stimulating and educational conversations with Belgians on the divisive politics in their country, a first-hand account of life behind the Iron Curtain from East Germans, and a lesson in political history from N. Irelanders. We also like to hear about their adventures in the area, the places they have visited, what they especially like. Our guests enjoy the lovely view of the Luberon hills from our balcony.
As one guest wrote in our guestbook: “Leben wie Gott in Frankreich (live like God in France)..We experienced this here. We’ve found Eden with God as our neighbor.”