A Visit to Puyloubier and the Restaurant des Sarments

Puyloubier is an ancient Provencal village at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire. It is surrounded by vineyards and boasts several renowned restaurants.

Panorama photo of Puyloubier

Panorama photo of Puyloubier

New meets old and they coexist in Puyloubier.

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An ancient stone protects the corner of this house on a very narrow street.

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All roads lead to Mont Sainte-Victoire in this region.

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This house has sections added on in different centuries.

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Philip, our tour guide, arranged for a private lunch at the Michelin rated Restaurant des Sarments. This was our first experience of true gourmet food in France, and we weren’t disappointed. The restaurant opened just for us on a Monday, when it is normally closed.

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We followed Philip up the secret staircase…

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… and of course had to stop to take photos.

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Intrepid wine drinkers that we are, even the France Frolickers were eager to photograph the vast number of wine glasses awaiting us.

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The menu was written on chalkboards in French and I’m not even going to try to interpret them. I’m just going to link up photos of the fabulous food we had and let you enjoy them.

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The amuse-bouche

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We adjourned to the outside patio for coffee and pastries. As it was early in the season, it wasn’t particularly beautiful, but we could see how wonderful it would be when things were blooming.

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Another in my long arrange of toilette shots -- I'm just fascinated by necessaries.

Another in my long array of toilette shots — I’m just fascinated by necessaries.

The chef and owner, Jean-Sébastien Gentil, finally came out and allowed Jennie to get a photo with him as we were leaving — the waitress said that he is very shy.

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Unbelievably (or quite possible, depending on who you’re talking to), our next stop was to a winery after this three hour gastronomic extravaganza. Yes, Virginia, the France Frolickers do love France.

NEXT STOP: CHATEAU VIGNELAURE

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Cezanne’s Atelier

Paul Cezanne was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1829 and has become known as the bridge between 19th century Impressionism and 20th century Cubism.  Cezanne commissioned a studio/workshop to be built outside of town, on top of a hill over-looking the countryside he loved and had immortalized in his paintings. The studio and workshop, built in 1903 at the end of his career, still stands as a museum and is open for tours.

This was then.

That was then.

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This is now.

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The tour of the workshop itself is done by authorized guides, and Philip was not supposed to talk. Our guide was sensible, however, and allowed him to help her out with translations when she couldn’t express herself well in English.

The studio is full of objects that are easily recongnizable from Cezanne's works.

The studio is full of objects that are easily recognizable from Cezanne’s works.

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Artifacts appear to be just as Cezanne left them, including his tall easels and ladders used for creating large paintings.

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The photos in the section are from the Cezanne Atelier website. We were not allowed to take photos inside the workshop, but we took lots in other places.

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Our guide was the epitome of the classic French “woman of a certain age.”

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Lots of still life arrangements (and cloches)

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This is clever way to display photographs and memorabilia.

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Look! It’s a flowering tree! Let’s take a photo!

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We all gathered on the steps to try to get a “family portrait.” It almost worked…

The studio was saved by an American benefactor.

The studio was saved by a group of American benefactors.

Bernard drove us up to the top of the hill where Cezanne went to paint Mont Saint Victoire. Modern life intruded.

Bernard drove us up to the top of the hill where Cezanne went to paint Mont Sainte-Victoire. Modern life intruded.

We finally got a hazy photo.

We finally got a hazy photo.

This is what Cezanne saw — we didn’t have quite the same viewpoint that day.

You may have figured out that we are still on the morning of Day Two, and we’ve already sorted through hundreds of photos. France is beautiful and photo-worthy pretty much everywhere you turn. Stay tuned!

NEXT STOP: THE ROAD TO PUYLOUBIER AND THE RESTAURANT DES SARMENTS.

Walking Tour of Aix-en-Provence

After an early, hearty breakfast at Les Deux Garçons (“the most famous brasserie in Aix. Built in 1792, it has been frequented by the likes of Paul Cézanne, Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway”), Philip met us with a cheerful walk about Aix.

We started our morning with a visit to the nearby Marché Place Richelme, a local producers’ market on Place Richelme near the city hall, which is open daily 9:00AM – 12:30PM. Jennie blogged about our visit to the market on her blog, The Seasoned Dish. You can see her story by clicking here.

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This market was in the plaza in front of l’Hotel de Ville (town hall).

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l’Hotel de Ville

Leaving the market, we all had to stop and take a photo of this coffee shop with a clever name.

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Aix-presso

We visited the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour.

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d’Aix

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Colloquially translated, this poster says, "We haz a Pope."

Colloquially translated, this poster says, “We haz a Pope.”

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These little markers are in the sidewalks all around Aix; some point out key sites from Cezanne’s life…

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… and some tell dogs where to go.

The streets are flushed out in the mornings and dog refuse is supposed to be in the gutter.

The streets are flushed out in the mornings and dog refuse is supposed to be in the gutter.

Some other lovely objects from our walk around Aix:

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Our hotel was just a block away from this huge fountain in “La Rotonde” (roundabout).

“La Rotonde” fountain, built in 1860

NEXT STOP: CEZANNE’S ATELIER