Safe to say that we’re now becoming accustomed to life in France. No newspapers and just a smidge of TV to distract us from eating, drinking, and appreciating the beauty of the country. Our primary concerns are 1) eating and drinking wine; 2) planning where we will next eat and drink; 3) talking about eating and drinking; 4) thinking about eating and drinking. Today was no exception.
David dropped me off at dialysis at 7:30 after our normal drive through the villages of Orgon and Senas along roads lined with trees that almost formed a green tunnel. He knows where most the bumps are by now, so the ride is pretty smooth. I hop into the clinic where my French friends greet me with smiles and a few words of English they have learned from me. I answer in the few words of French they have taught me. Our common language is our common bond, knowing how precious life is and appreciating every day.
At noon, David picked me up to begin our quest for food, wine, and a special place to enjoy them. Our plan was to go to Fontevielle, about 30 minutes away towards Arles, and enjoy lunch at Bistro Mogador, which is part of Chateau d’Estoublon, a sprawling vineyard and olive grove that produces wonderful wines and olive oils. First we needed to stop at the mas to meet Guy Knox and pay him the balance for our stay and reimburse him for buying me a battery charger for my camera. Guy showed up right on time at 12:30 and chatted with David for a minute or two, then left with a wad of euro. Changed and charged, I hopped in the car, waved good day to Patrick who was fine-tuning the grounds, and we headed down the road.
Every day the countryside is more beautiful as more plants and trees burst forth with flowers and foliage. Our 30-minute drive took us through St. Remy and a series of small villages, Mas de Blanc, St. Etienne. Then we hopped in the back entrance of Chateau d’Estoublon.
The parking lot was full, and a glimpse of the tables said they were packed. Oops, didn’t make reservations. We were greeted and told that the outside tables were all booked, but we could eat in the inside dining/tasting room. They were featuring a buffet rather than the a la carte menu, so we perused the spread and ordered our normal kir and bottle of their excellent rosé. The young man who runs the restaurant told us that today was a holiday all over France (Ascension Day), hence the buffet. No problem, the room was beautiful, the food plentiful and appealing, and the wine luscious.
Three large tables groaned under the weight of salads, fish, meat, fruits, pastry, cheeses, and more. We both grabbed stuffed avocados. I added a couple of salads, a hard-boiled egg, and chicken. David went for the salmon (duh), ratatouille, and a potato and ham salad. I splurged with some desserts, while David opted for a couple of cheeses. Light and perfect, with the rosé providing the perfect match for the foods.
We paid the tab, made reservations for the following Wednesday, and strolled over to the little store that sells their wines, oils, souvenirs, and other items. We picked up a couple of bottles of rosé and some of their excellent olive oil, then headed down the road to Maussane.
While we knew that almost everything in France was closed (we think eventually France will be closed year-round…), we decided to check out the Moulin Jean-Cornille to see if we could pick up some tins of olive oil to take home. Their oil is marvelous. You can find it occasionally in the States via the web, but at over $60/liter, it’s pretty expensive. Here it’s about $24 per liter, plenty of incentive to buy it and take some back. Eureka! The mill was open, so we picked up some oil and headed home.
The mas looked great on our return. Patrick makes the grounds look terrific. We unloaded our stash from the car and caught up on some housekeeping and blog chores. I downloaded/uploaded new photos while David “tweaked” the copy (once an editor…)
Around five it was time to hop down to the Cafe du Centre. We sat down, and Chrystelle appeared with “the usual,” a carafe of local white wine. With the holiday, the village was jammed, with the tables at all three cafés filled. After an hour or so of relaxing and making snide comments about some of the “tourists,” we headed home.
As usual, it was a light snack, some horrible TV (tonight was an original Star Trek episode), and we turned in.