12 September 2011

Aaaah – Venasque!

Posted in Talking about . . .

We had an early introduction to the vagaries of cellphone and internet networks in the area because Stephanie (the lovely woman who takes care of the villa we rented) didn’t get my txt saying when we would be arriving. So we arrived in Venasque at 2pm and only got into our villa at 4pm. Nevertheless, all was well and we are delighted with our accommodation. It is rustic and quaint but certainly comfortable enough.

The house is at the end of an alley just off the main square of the village. It is part of what was a school in former times, built of stone and with green shutters on all the windows. The floor downstairs in the living room-cum-kitchen is polished flagstones and deliciously cool. There is a terrace outside the living room, which leads down to two lower terraces. The bottom terrace overlooks the gorge below this mountain-top village.

The day we arrived was sweltering and our attic bedroom and ensuite bathroom must have been about 30 degrees (outside was 35 degrees). So I turned on the airconditioner in the bedroom to cool it down (as you do). Stephanie immediately looked concerned and indicated that the airconditioner is broken – but that we could use the little fan . . . Stephanie was so delightful, I couldn’t even get cross!

The Gorgeous Stephanie The Top Terrace
View from the Top Terrace View from the Bottom Terrace

(Clockwise from Top Left) The Gorgeous Stephanie, The Top Terrace, View from the Bottom Terrace, View from the Top Terrace

By the time we’d unpacked and moved furniture around and laid out the toiletries (as you do), it was 5pm, and we went out to explore the village. What a delight! Unbeknownst to us, the Friday evening market was in full swing, with stalls set up in the streets and the central square. There were tables and chairs around the fountain and we joined the happy throng who were buying provisions from the stalls or sitting sipping and watching each other go by. It was utterly enchanting, and we hastened to join the movement!

Venasque Village Square Venasque Friday Market Drinks
Venasque Friday Market Venasque Friday Market

Top, from Left: Venasque Village Square, Venasque Friday Market Drinks Bottom: Venasque Friday Market

We then bought gorgeous provisions from the boulangerie and the epicurie and the market stalls (yes, we did double up - but it was utterly irresistible) and tottered home to have our evening meal of local produce on the terrace in the late evening sun. Blissful – this is an experience I will never forget!

Venasque Boulangerie Venasque Epicurie
Venasque Dinner - All Local Produce Dinner on the Terrace

(Clockwise from Top Left) Venasque Boulangerie, Venasque Epicurie, Venasque Dinner - All Local Produce, Dinner on the Terrace

The hardest thing has been the lack of language I have. As you can imagine, not being able to communicate with the people around me has been incredibly hard. I really struggle without being able to converse – there’s so much I want to ask and say - no words is no good! Thus, we decided that we would really work hard at building our language skills with the help of the handheld translator we brought with us. It has sound as well, so we get to hear the pronunciation, too. We tried French immersion on our second day, but it was just too quiet . . .

The next morning found us sitting on the terrace enjoying coffee and croissants and the International Herald Tribune (with glossy magazine for girls) after making the rounds of the boulangerie and the epicurie and introducing ourselves – all in French! So, everyone in the village soon knew about the two try-hard (or hopefully, sweet) tourists who insist on introducing themselves . . .

That day was overcast and humid and we simply explored the village a bit - not wanting to tax ourselves in the heat. Lots of lolling and cool drinks. No internet connection made today (networks are notoriously unreliable up here), so I had an opportunity to catch up on blogs. Imagine our surprise to discover that our neighbours for the next week are Dave Murchisson and Rosie Austin from Christchurch! I swear the world gets smaller every day. Excellent dinner at Les Remparts – on their terrace overlooking the gorge.

Aaah – Venasque!

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