Monday, March 25, 2013

Hanging out with French friends

Today was SO much fun!  We had made a date to go with Laurence to meet her husband and have lunch, but of course, she made it much more than that.  She is so kind and generous (and so is her husband, Robert -- pronounced Row--beirt) that we couldn't wait to see what she had cooked up for us.  Just wait and see.

She picked us up at our apartment (which as we have said, is no easy thing, since the street is about 5 feet wide) at 10:30.  We drove first to the Boulangerie in Tavel.  She wanted to show us the different kinds of bread that the French eat. Bread is such a part of French life.   The thing about Laurence is that she is a born teacher, so every stop is a lesson of some kind, and we learn SO MUCH!
beautiful day, about 60 in the morning

Already made pizza

Breads in all shapes and sizes

Look at this case!  Strawberry tarts, Chocolate Flan

Raspberry tarts, small tartelettes

Baguettes and Batards

Apple tart.  Serves 8

Custard tarts - some with fruit

These are like pillows of heaven - cookies called Rocher and Chouquette

Chocolate Croissant - a small bar of dark chocolate inside. Yummy!
She bought some bread for lunch that had almonds and figs in the dough that we put pate on.  Also some Chouquette for us to sample.

Then we drove by a huge garden store and went in.  Like Lowes, or Home Depot, but only plants, and vegetables.   Such a beautiful day, and Laurence went out of her way to point out traditional French plants and pottery, etc.  Surprisingly, many were the same as ours.

plants that can withstand dry heat of Provence in the summer

Interesting ornamental grass.  What is it Bobbi?  I want some.


This is Mediterranean climate remember, so palm trees.

Pots made in Provence that are really famous.  This one was 600 Euros!

Garden furniture too.

We got by the gas grills and saw what her husband likes:

Plancha which is a flat top gas grill for cooking.  More about this later.

We drove over to Lirac, which is where Laurence and Robert live, through the beautiful Cote du Rhone vineyards.  Got out to take a few pictures.

These vines have wires for the vines to grow on.  Probably harvested by machine????

By now it is about 68 degrees.  Gorgeous!

These are older vines and have no support.

We were going to go and taste wine at a cave but it was closed for lunch, so we went to the local bar in Lirac to have a Pastis, which I have read about for years, but never tasted.  It is a liqueur that tastes like anise (really, black licorice)  and you add water to it and then drink it.  Wasn't my favorite  but at least I tried it, which is more than Jerry did.  He had a Coke.  

When we walked in here, the men just about had a stroke.  I am sure
they are still talking about it.  "2 Americans came into the bar today." This bar is off the beaten path and doesn't see many strangers.

Now we had killed enough time to go to their house.  Robert was cooking for us, and we couldn't arrive before 12:30. 

 They live in the small town of Lirac 6 or 7 kilometers from Avignon.

Their house from the garden

beautiful terraces are everywhere

Where we ate looking into the kitchen

Mama's home!
They have 2 cats and a dog named Abby (a boxer) and everything is so open and sunny.  Beautiful home.

great room, all open

open American style kitchen

I can't remember her name

Robert cooking

The back yard.  The big white thing is their new pool.

Big forsythia in a wine barrel

another patio

Apricot tree

Pool house

My sweetie with the olive trees

Aperitif - Fish paste and cream, pate de fois gras - wine

endive, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and this
amazing dip that I will make for all of you.

Main course was seared duck breast and potatoes with red wine

Couldn't have had a more beautiful day.  The other cat is behind me.

Our hosts; Laurence and Robert

The grill.  It is a flat top, and he grilled the duck on it.  He says it makes it
more juicy than a grill.

Of course, it is France, so 3 kinds of goat cheese with
honey and jam
Then fruit and the Chouquette that we had bought at the bakery.
and more wine.  Yum!

They have just aded a bed and breakfast apartment to their house and are ready to have guests reserve.  It is darling and Lirac is the perfect little town in which to base a trip in Provence.  Especially with Laurence as a guide occassionally.  We talked about how to market it in the US and I said, "I'll put it on the blog!!!"

The apartment has a completely separate entrance from the driveway.
Your own patio with a sun awning that comes out.

Living room/kitchen

all you need here!


bedroom overlooks the garden

from the patio.  The renters also have use of the pool

and the best part, the patio is right by
a vineyard!  This would be a great rental.  Let me know if you are
interested and I will get you in touch!

After that big lunch we started back to Avignon, but first we went to Sainte Baume, which is a pilgrimage sort of place that has a cave that hermit monks lived in for years after a Virgin Mary was found inside it in the 1600's.  Very interesting, and Laurence is on the preservation committee, so she had the key.

A very steep climb to work off the pate

first Virgin you see, but they are all around

and up

and up.  These are all vineyards down there.

Rosemary grows wild here and it is blooming

Jerry's tuckered out

They hold mass here 3 times a year.  One is on Easter Sunday.

There is a bell you can ring!

The ceiling of the area where the hermits lived

Good friends for life

way up there is the bell we rung

Now we are going to Avignon, right.  Nope, have to take Jerry to the Wine Coop that I saw on Saturday.

Jerry loves this idea.  Fill her up!

You need a container, not just squirt it in your mouth!

Several people came and got a refill.  What a country!

We had such a fun day.  Laurence brought us back to Avignon and then went off to teach an English class.
She is one busy lady.

Meeting this couple has enriched our lives forever, and it might be years before we see them again, but we will be always grateful that they have given us a true "slice" of Provencal life.  Merci beaucoup, Laurence and Robert.

Tomorrow, Jerry and I will start fighting about the suitcases and how heavy they are and what I am taking back.  Can't wait.  Off to Paris on Wednesday.  A benitot!


  1. Thank you so much for another wonderful adventure in our armchair traveling with you! Are you off to Paris for a few days, or to head over to Amsterdam? Please give our regards to Kristine, along with our hugs!! :0) G and D

  2. Off to Paris until Friday, then Amsterdam. Then home next Tuesday. Won't know what to do when we get home!!!!