20ish years ago my husband and I decided to take a road trip to the south of France in our new Saab convertible, god I miss that car.
Armed only with the Michelin, Guille millau and lonely planet guides along with my trusty Nokia 7110 and a map we set off. No sat nav, no wifi and no trip advisor.
It was glorious we came across a leg of the Tour de France, cherry festivals and fabulous markets. In Valence we ate profiteroles that we still talk about, in Orange the weather suddenly jumped 15 degrees and the car came into it’s own. Then we discovered Provence and fell in love with it. Wandering around I’isle Sur Sorge antique hunting and eating incredible food along the way.
We stayed in some real dives an attic in carpentras that had carpet on the walls and bed full of fleas but we also stayed in some stunning places.
One was a Mas in Eygalier, deepest and most rural Provence. It was stunning, wonderful terraces, full of antique furniture and quirky decorative pieces to be discovered at every turn. They grew their own lavender and made wonderful bath oils which they put in decanters next to the bath and refilled daily. They were lovely people gracious and accommodating always a bottle of wine open with a spare glass next to it.
It has taken us 20 years to return somehow life and children got in the way. On entering, the mas it appeared to have the same charm. However instead of lavender there are rows of olive trees, the bath products although olive based come from a hotel supplier in France… at least I should be grateful it was not China. The antiques are still there with some additions making it as interesting to walk around.
When we arrived the owners were not there instead there was a caretaker and his wife, who are functional and ensure everything is in order but there is no soul anymore. I honestly think these people do not even like people they are curt instead of courteous. After 20 years of dreaming about returning I am so disappointed, though not with Provence. In October it is glorious, the weather warm enough to sunbathe but not too hot to explore and no tourists, we will definately return however we will be staying somewhere else which has a heart and soul.
People make hotels not just the furnishings.