Most days at the office, I don’t leave for lunch. I get into doing my work and I usually just end up eating my lunch at my desk and just keep working through lunch time. Sometimes I’ve even forgotten to eat lunch! Very American, right?? There have been only a few occasions where I’ve said, “This bites and I’m going to enjoy my lunch time”, but those have been few and far between occasions.
Well, the other day, Dude and I decided to cash in on my lunch savings and we headed for the local boulangerie. Like most boulangeries these days, they have something called a Menu Formule where you can have a sandwich or salad, along with a drink and dessert for around 7€50. That, folks, is a steal.
Dude opted for a salad, ice tea and a tarte framboise while I got the poulet cesear sandwich (which is oh so delicious with the dressing and feta cheese), a bottle of water and a tarte fraise with Chantilly on top. Grand total was 15€. Money well spent, I would say.
Then we headed off towards the beach in La Ciotat which happens to be about 5 whole minutes from my work. Luckily, the tourist season has not quite started yet and we were able to find some free parking close by. We only had to walk a short distance and we found a nice bench under some trees to shade us from the sun. Viola, a two hour “vacation” with a spectacular view.
It’s times like these while I’m quietly enjoying my lunch and looking out onto the Mediterranean that I ask myself why I don’t do this more often. I don’t think I’ve quite transitioned, yet, to the mind frame of taking a proper lunch to rejuvenate myself.
I was never able to do that since in The States you’re lucky if you get a whole hour for lunch (I have friends who only get 30 minutes!) and that doesn’t leave much time to enjoy your lunch when that one hour includes drive time to get to a restaurant! One always feels like their rushing and can’t really enjoy lunch let alone digest it.
I do vow to take more two hour vacations this summer. With this sort of view, how can I not?!
With summer upon us and the days in Provence becoming increasingly warm, we have opted to stay indoors during the mid-day to keep cool and venture out for our travels in the cooler evening hours. The bonus for us is that by the evening time most of the crowds and tourists have left and we get to enjoy the scenery with only a few others.
Last night our choice for an evening outing was to Le Pradet, a small village in the Var that is situated just next to the Mediterranean Sea. The village has installed a nice walkway along the water that stretches for about one kilometer and they have also put in benches so one can take a rest and just gaze out at the ocean. There are two restaurants in close proximity to the walkway, one it L’essentiel and the other is Le Samana.
Continuing south you will find some hidden away stairs leading down to the rocky beach. Once on the beach you can head left and you will come upon a Sentir Littoral. This is one of the many located here in Provence and it is a nice path that follows the ridge along the water on which you can stroll. Last night we only encountered a hand full of people, but mostly we were the only ones enjoying the lovely view of the sea from this advantage point.
The end of the trail leads you down to the port where there are a few restaurants. We stopped in for an evening snack of crepes abricot and refreshing drinks.
After our “dessert before dinner” snack, we followed the trail back to the walkway with the benches and finished the night off by watching the sun set. A perfect end to a relaxing evening.
About a week and a half ago while Dude and I were shopping at the market, I happen to hear a mother and her son speaking American. Yes-that’s right, I said American. The reason why this was so shocking is that in the middle of the nowhere area of Provence that I live you don’t hear American too often.
I approached the mother and son and asked if they were from American and with wide eyes the mother replied, “Yes! Are you?” Well, of course I said yes and she was surprised as well when I told her that I lived in France. Now, I tell you, I’ve never seen someone more excited to see a fellow American than this lady. The minute I told her that I was a Provencal girl she wanted my number and was inviting Dude, myself and Tinki over (it just so happens that she has a daughter the same age as mine). She said that she had lived in Provence for a long time, but was never around any Americans. Her husband is French and her children go to French schools. She was so happy to speak to an American that I thought she was just going to leap over and hug me! Her son reiterated that fact that his mom was dying to meet another American to chat with.
Well, we hit if of right there in the market and chatted American for about an hour and a half and by the end of the conversation she had invited us over for a day at her place! We nearly closed the place down that night and when there was only 30 minutes to closing we exchanged numbers, promised to give each other a call to hook up and took off like lightening speed to finish our shopping before they kicked our American behinds out.
Fast forward to mid-week.
I gave my new American friend a call around Wednesday and we decided that this past Saturday we would hooked up. So on Saturday morning we headed out to their place and oh my goodness is their place amazing! They have the most wonderful view of the Mediterranean Sea and vineyards just in front of their yard and their house is the most adorable Provencal house ever!
It was an unbelievable how marvelous the weather was. Not a cloud in the sky and just a light breeze.
My new friend made us Cobb Salad for lunch with bread and cheese, of course, and Dude chatted it up with her husband. We ate on the terrace overlooking the water and it was just breathtaking.
After lunch, we picked apricots, mulberries, almonds ( and some other fruit I don’t know the name of ) right off of their garden trees and then we sat around and chatted some more while munching on them.
We got the grand tour of the area and the story of the family.
They also have a cute little dog name Spot and guess what?? My most favorite animal of all, a turtle 🙂
It was one of the most delightful days we had spent out in a while. I tell you, we have the best times with American girlfriends who are married to French men! It’s always nice to chat with a fellow American girl all about peanut butter, Dr. Pepper, Pop Rocks and Hugh Jackman!
Taking our leave of the Gorge du Loup, we headed back towards the village. I was interested in seeing le Jardin Emmanuel Lopez. Entry is free and the gardens are open every day from 9:30am-12:30pm and then from 14:00pm-18:00pm.
The garden is enclosed and contains lovely trees and flowers. There are many benches along the trail on which to sit and have a rest. It would be a wonderful place to bring a book to read. While we were visiting, there was only a few other people so, like the gorge, we pretty much had the garden all to ourselves.
I pointed out the things I would love to have in my garden at home, like this beautiful iron trellis. I had visions of blooming Wisteria and grape vines overflowing at my house. Oh, how the mind starts dreaming of all the lovely things to have in a garden when you’re visiting someone else’s garden!
I really wished the sun would have made another appearance so that I could have captured some of the colors of the flowers. I had no luck in that department. As a matter of fact, the overcast had gotten a bit thicker.
As we made our way around the trails of the garden, I noticed all the beautiful houses that bordered it on all sides. How nice for the owners to have this place as their backyard.
After visiting the garden, it was time to head for the beach. This would be our last stop of the day on the island before catching the ferry back to the mainland.
By the time we arrive, the clouds had really rolled in so the color of the water, though still a beautiful blue, was not as captivating as it had been earlier that day. There were a few boats anchored in the harbor and the beach was scarce of people. Nearly everyone was gone so once again we were able to have part of the island all to ourselves.
The island has a real, sandy beach that stretched for miles. I say ‘real’ since I don’t consider rocky beaches to be a ‘real beach’. I’m not a fan of rocky beaches. I want to feel the soft, warm sand between my toes as I stroll along. I don’t want to be in pain and watching my every step as I hobble along next to the water!
I made a mental note to come back next time just to stroll along this beach and to see where it would take me. As far as I could see, it rounded a bend. Hmm, what was on the other side? Another adventure I presumed and something to look forward to.
The water was calm, but surprisingly cold for this time of year. They day had been warm so I assumed the water would have been warmer than what it was.
There was one enormous yacht anchored not far from where we were.
We decided to have some fun with picture taking.
Believe it or not, this is harder than it looks and I didn’t get the photo exactly perfect like I had wanted, but it turned out okay. I was my first attempt at trying something I had seen others do with the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, etc. I must try and perfect this technique as it is fun to do and when done right, the pictures end up coming out terrifically.
It was finally time to head back to the ferry. On our way, we spotted a restaurant whose many, different, colored tables lined the edge of the water. Now that would be a nice place to have lunch!
My list of things to do on my next visit was growing ever larger. I had now planned to do a biking tour, visit the other forts on the island, take a stroll along the beach to see what was around the bend and dine at a restaurant near the water’s edge.
Yup, I’d say all of those were the best reasons to come back for a visit.
If you’ve been to the Ile de Porquerolles, I’d love to hear what you found interesting to do. There is always room on my list to add a few more things 🙂