During this trip one of my bucket list experiences was about to happen - we were going to visit Provence and their famous lavender fields! I remember being a little girl and dreaming about walking through those amazingly scented purple bushes. We chose to drive to Gordes and sightsee The Abbaye Norte Dame de Senanque (1.5 hour drive from our current location). Once we got closer to our destination, I got even more excited. First, we made a turn going up hill and we saw this spectacular and kinda hard to describe view- the breath taking image of the city of Gordes. The village is located in the center of the commune, on a giant calcareous rock from the Vaucluse Mountains, dominating the valley. We have some photos below to help describe that view, but again, you have to see it yourself to really be able to grasp it all. As we drove down the hill, we saw to the left the beautiful Abbaye, the dreamy lavender fields and hundreds of other people, trying to do the same thing as we did, bummer! Although the view of the lavender fields was something out of the book, the whole experience itself was much less pleasant. Along those beautiful alleys dividing the lavender bushes were tourists, tourists and more tourists... We snapped several images ourselves but I left that place feeling very dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Was this it!? My long childhood dream consisted of strolling through lavender fields with so many other people...I tried not to be negative and keep the "law of attraction" on the good side but it was a very challenging task.
Rick was trying to keep my spirits up and suggested throwing a picnic (thats what The Herman’s do best), relaxing a bit and trying to research some other lavender fields. I always tried to be very inclusive and open, but this time, I wanted to have at least one lavender field just for myself. Was it too much to ask for? Apparently not! So once we found a picnic spot, we were setting up our table. It was an extremely hot day, 92, dry and sunny. Two young Frenchman saw us with the kids and offered for us to join them at their table in the shade. We took them up on the offer. Yet again, very nice and helpful encounter with French people. Here we found out that they were English speaking French tourist guides, full of the resources about the area and less touristy spots. Naturally, I asked them if they knew about any "free" and "not so touristy" lavender fields, and voila, they told us everything we needed to hear! How ironic is that!? How is it possible that our all of the picnic places in the whole region we happen to pick one with the tourist guides on lunch break!? France I really love you, yes I do! So after lunch, we headed towards the undiscovered lavender fields. As we drove through some wheat and sunflower farms, we finally found them, amazing, very purple and full of bees lavender fields, hahaha. You could hear the bees buzzing as soon as you opened the door of your car. Leo and Mila were not interested in them at all. Nevertheless, I got my wish fulfilled. I was standing in front of a aromatic lavender field with my family at my side and nobody else. My little garden of happiness, a tiny nirvana. Forget the bees, I could care less about them. I was going to live my dream and walk through those fields and I did. It was a dream come true. We snapped few photos and admired this unique and magical place. When we were driving home the song by Rolling-stones was stuck in my mind: "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need" and that day, I got exactly everything I needed. From now on, purple might be my favorite color...
Later in the week the weather got super hot and steamy (96 degrees!) so we decided to hit the beach for the day. It was a nude beach of course! The next day, despite the burning sun, we drove to visit a nearby city called Nimes. It is a really neat city that used to be an important outpost of the Roman Empire. It's very well known for several preserved monuments such as Arena of Nimes (looks like the Coliseum in Rome) and is still used for concerts and bullfights. We walked around for a bit and got super hungry. We all were in a mood for some pizza and chose probably the worst pizza place on this planet! It was our first dining out experience in France ( we have been cooking in for the whole stay in France) and needless to say, not a very good one. I really don't want to describe that pizza and evoke all of the distasteful memories. Thank goodness there was a wonderful gelato place on the way to our car.
It was our last day in the Gord region of France and our hosts just returned from their vacation. We ran into them on the street and they invited us to their home for a drink. They prepared an incredible spread on the table plus served us rose from their own winery (delicious!). We talked (they all spoke very good English) and laughed like there was no tomorrow. We also met their lovely children and parents. Once again, we were sharing an unforgettable evening with kinda strangers, yet there was nothing strange, awkward or uncomfortable about it. I really don't want to jinx it but so far, people have been the biggest highlight of our adventure.
That night, in our little village of Blauzac was a summer festival and that event is something that I doubt we will ever forget. As we were getting lost in different topics during our lovely dinner, our hosts mentioned that there was a "special" event happening in the village. To be exact, several streets in the village were completely blocked with metal fences so a bull could run through the streets chasing those who dared to be on the inside of the fence, hello!? Is this for real!!?? Pamplona part 2?
Naturally, we had to go and see this for ourselves. We all walked together towards the center of the village, where life was simply booming. Ironically, it was a perfect evening and a fun moon was out! I think everyone was out trying to witness a wild bull racing through the streets of Blauzac. Mila was having the time of her life, dancing the night away hahaha. We waited and waited and waited and did not see the bull. Somebody said that the show was over, then suddenly, we heard screams coming from the audience. All the people, or teenagers, who dared to stay on the streets, were sprinting and getting out of the way - the bull was here and he was not very calm, haha. We saw it and could not believe it. It was very entertaining and unique experience that will stay with us forever. It was 11pm but the village was almost like Time Square in NYC, full of people, music, noises and lights. Since our kids were pretty tired, we decided it was time to end the night. The next morning, we said goodbye to our gracious hosts and hit the road. Another week in France full of incredible experiences and amazing encounters. We have been traveling now for about 50 days and have many more countries to see, but I really feel like part of my heart will forever be left in France...