S is for…

SSt. Hilaire Abbey

In Provence there is a 13th century convent tucked into the fold of the hills of the Vaucluse. St. Hilaire is my happy place. When I meditate that is where I picture myself, sitting on the grass in the courtyard in back, watching the poplar trees across the valley sway in the breeze. We sat there for a long time, Kosta and I, just drinking in the peace infused in the very stones of the place. We didn’t speak, we just sat and watched the sky, the trees, and felt the breeze wash over us, content to just be. Even if I never return (and I sorely hope that is not the case) I will never forget the way that place made me feel.

The front entrance of the abbey.

The front entrance of the abbey.

Set in stone.

Set in stone.

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

C is for…

CChateau-neuf du Pape

The premiere wines of Provence come from this little town, which is in itself a gem, a central fountain, winding streets up the hills, and many wine caves for tasting the wares of the different vineyards. We spent a lovely afternoon there after a morning in Avignon.

In the vineyards

In the vineyards

We had lunch at an outdoor café and then explored the town, walking up the hill to the church and then back down again to buy some wine. We came away with five precious bottles – three to be given as gifts to our hosts, and two to come home with us. If you’ve never been to France let me tell you there is no such thing as a bad bottle of wine. Even the cheap €3 bottle we bought for a picnic was far superior to anything we can get in the US.

Savoring lunch.

Savoring lunch.

Wine tastings are available in these wine caves all along the main street.

Wine tastings are available in these wine caves all along the main street. You can see the picture on the left of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie–their most famous visitors.

You can't really see him, but the man we bought from was a dead ringer for Elvis Costello.

You can’t really see him, but the man we bought from was a dead ringer for Elvis Costello.

Charming and great wine? Yes, please.

Charming and great wine? Yes, please.