I'm a mountain person. A ratty pair of jeans, a pine walking stick that gets more whittled and rubbed to perfection each day, a walk at sunset, a green-blue lake...I can't get enough.
The mountains of Provence made me think of my summers in Wyoming as an adolescent. The Provençal hills are rocky, yet tree-covered, the air has the pine-scented spirit of vacation, the nestled villages have terra cotta roofs.For once, it was exactly, exactly as I imagined.
We spent a morning skipping stones at the lake of Sainte-Croix, with a picnic on its pebbly shore. The water was just a little greener than the azure sky. It was warmer than we'd imagined, so our 3 year-old got to splash in his undies.
Dark clouds were replacing the fluffy white ones as we drove a little further, toward the Gorges of Verdon. The hills became mountains. I kept the camera out as I thought of the yellow and grey rocks of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Then, on the tiny-twisty-turny road, the three year-old threw up. We got everything cleaned up, more or less.
The little ones fell asleep as rain pattered. We decided we wouldn't be stopping to hike around the cliffs. We passed rocky "bergeries," sheep folds, signs that promised medieval villages and historic churches and castles. I itched to stop and see them all. One glance at the peaceful backseat strengthened by resolve to "look but not touch."
After a couple hours, we needed a bathroom/nursey break, however. "Let's not just pull-off somewhere. Let's do it right," I said. That means, 'find me a café that sells hot chocolate.' My sweet hubby translated what I meant and found a roadside inn in the shadow of the cliffside village, Trigance.
We grabbed up blankeys and children. The tiny room was cozy and seemed full of wood trim, tables and chairs. We settled in next to a couple in biking shorts speaking German. Apparently, she had needed a coffee break too.
It might not seem like much, but that small stop was important. Instead of being whining about the rain, not being able to hike, being limited be two small children, hours of driving, it became sweet and memorable. A hot chocolate, with a sludgy bottom of real dark chocolate for me, cinnamon Speculoos cookies for the little guy, a nursing cuddle for the baby and a couple espressos for the French daddy...and we were happy. Sometimes, just an attitude choice and a little café stop can make the all the difference, but is that what I always choose? Um, no. But I think I'm getting better at it, becoming more...French, if you know what I mean ;)
|Gorges de Verdon|
|Medieval village of Trigance|
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