Sunday, October 10, 2010

Well, our France Women’s trip has begun, and we are settled into our wonderful villa, Fontaine du Faucon, just outside of the lovely village of Goult in the Luberon Valley in Provence!

We all met at the Denver airport on Friday morning, and amazingly enough, our check-in, boarding, flights, connections, customs drill in Paris, luggage collection (NO ONE lost a bag!), and Rail Pass validation went off without a hitch! In fact it was such a smooth transition from one thing to another that we actually had too much time in the TGV terminal, waiting for the train.

We boarded the “fast train” at 11:30, wrestling our luggage up and down the few platform steps, and settled in. Despite the beautiful sunny day and the spectacular scenery in the countryside, most of us slept all the way through the rail journey to Avignon. But we laughingly reminded ourselves and one another that we will be able to pay more attention on the way back to Paris.

At the Avignon rail station, we rented our two cars and again, without a hitch, found our way to this amazing villa. Helen, the owner’s sister, greeted us with a warm kiss on each cheek, while the smells of dinner comforted our senses. The herbal mixtures for sauce, and the sauteed garlic made my mouth water, and I was so thankful that we arranged for Helen to prepare our first meal here, rather than going to a restaurant somewhere or cooking ourselves. We’re all still cheery but very tired, and I’m sure we’ll be happy to settle in for the week.

I gave the women a tour of the bedrooms, let them arm wrestle one another for choices, and settled into my “apartment” across the small courtyard. Ellen took first advantage of the swimming pool and it must have looked more inviting to Sue and Marie than to me, because they soon were wet and laughing with Ellen, while I drove Kay and Gena up to the village of Goult, where we laid in a few supplies for breakfast this morning.

By 7:00 p.m. last evening, Helen had set out some cheeses and tapenade on toasted baguettes, accompanied by sparkling wine. We draped ourselves across couches and chairs in the living room and rested, talking, sipping, crunching until we were called to the main meal in the formal dining room. No, it was too tiring to even think of pictures, but I surely wish I had had a photo of the Wild Mushroom Crostini (chanterelles, sep, and something else) and arugula slightly wilted in olive oil. Next came Duck with Balsamic Sauce, Green Beans and Roasted Potatoes. And as we grazed over our plates, Helen was preparing a mouth-watering dessert of Red Wine Poached Figs with Panna Cotta and Almond biscuits. the Balsamic Sauce even had black cherries, and the entire sumptuous meal, accompanied by red, rose and white wines from the owners’ vineyard (St. Esteve de Neri), coffee, tea, and chocolate truffles. Now don’t all of you feel SO sorry for us???

This group, already connected by couples and trios, melted into instant friendships, and we finally made our way to our respective rooms by 10:00 p.m., having traveled many many hours across the globe. This morning, I walked across the courtyard to the main house by about 8:30 to make our first breakfast, and found only Ellen and Sue awake, talking over tea in the living room. Bit by bit the others came alive while I mixed up batches of scramble with mushrooms, peppers, onions and herbs. Coupled with fresh baguettes from the local bakery, fruit and cheeses from the village grocer, and apple pastry, we began our week here, lazy at first, but it will fill with activities soon.

Today we’ll all go into Goult and explore the little streets, cameras in hand,and I’ll try to post some photos along the way. Later we will drive to Isle de sur la Sorgue for Sunday Antique Market. Our first full day in Provence begins and ends with eating delicious food, sandwiched with the local color and the sound of our own laughter.


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