It is always with a touch of sadness that I start the day on day 12 knowing that it’s our last day together as by now there are always firm friendships made and it becomes hard to say goodbye.
However as with all of our previous tours I know that the contact remains and the friendships grow stronger as this is just the beginning and what a wonderful beginning.
We have had 12 amazing days exploring Provence together and created memories that will last a lifetime and made promises to return and explore the area more with either other family members or friends. This is something I love to hear as it means that we have managed to share how special this part of the world is that our guests are keen to return and share it with their friends or family and we even have some of our guests planning on joining us in Tuscany next year so we are very blessed.
First stop this morning the beautiful village of Ansouis; just down the road from our villa this gorgeous village sits crowned with a magnificent chateau that can be seen for miles.
The ladies took their time meandering the quaint cobbled lane ways finding their way to the top where one of my favourite churches in all of Provence can be found. With a view over the fields their myriad of colours creates such a beautiful setting for a wedding and the church itself I find always brings a sense of well being and peacefulness to my mind and heart whenever I sit quietly contemplating the beauty of this part of the world and how lucky I am to get to share it with my guests year upon year.
Another surprise gallery in the village is that of Juliet Schlunke, one of our very own, yes, that’s right an Australian from Young, NSW who married her man and followed him back to Europe finally ending up in this gorgeous town where she is well known for her world class ceramics, paintings and fabrics. Of course a few more packages wrapped carefully in papier bulle left the shop… not to mention yesterday’s photo of boxes being sent home!
Leaving Ansouis behind, we headed to what is always another highlight of our last day, to see our very own Claude at Vaudois winery in Cabriere D’Aigues, this is not your usual winery experience, in fact Claude only does this presentation just for the guests of L’Amitie Tours, how privileged are we.
Claude, is an absolute powerhouse of knowledge regarding the history of the Luberon, Provence, France and in fact most of Europe. Couple this with his family’s wine growing history and add in a few olives, you are in for one fantastic morning of history, wine and oil based in a 17th Century building complete with barrel room and steps that descend downwards to the original water cistern.
It simply is an amazing place to find yourself and one not readily identifiable with the thought of ‘wine tasting’ as we know it in Australia or anywhere else for that matter. Sipping on the family’s production of Rose, Viognier, Rouge and Blanc whilst being regaled with tales of bygone times was something that was worth its weight in gold, or should I say Rose. It is hard to describe how effervescent Claude is and how passionate he is about all of the topics he covers with you, as I said, no ‘wine tasting’ you will have ever experienced in the past or will again.
From Claude’s wine cave, we head up the hill through the town, (taking a myriad of pictures as we go as it really is a lovely, picturesque little town – mostly unknown by tourists, but our little gem) before we enter the family ‘jewel’; a 16th Century building that includes rooms built into the rock face, which in fact would date a lot further back than the 16th Century: his family’s olive oil mill. This is where Claude explains to us how the olive oil was extracted and the fact that cold pressed, (first press of oil) is the crême de la crême of olive oil before hot water is added to the residue used in such things as the famous Savon de Marseille (soap of Marseille) or oil for the lanterns or even to grease mechanical components. What an absolute thrill it was to hear all of this from someone so knowledgeable and passionate on the subject. We truly are lucky that Claude allows us this private tour and viewing.
And to think the last day could end on even a higher note…. after a little relaxation, lunch and a little packing in preparation for departure day, we were whisked down to the exquisite La Petite Maison where we were to conduct a cooking class with the even more famous Eric Sapet.
To have such a wonderful teacher coupled with guests who have a true desire to learn from a master was such a pleasure and then there were a couple of us that used our talents where we could with great aplomb!
Like little chefs in the making we followed instructions and completed our duties initially almost to scared not to do exactly as requested after our onions weren’t quite to Chef’s specifications, talk about hands on, after that we were determined to show our prowess if not to Chef at least to each other and I do believe we were the most improved group by the end of the class!! We certainly deserved the glass of French Champagne poured for us at the end of class.
With relish we ate every course put in front of us, mushroom tarte which just can not be described in enough detail nor words to give it credit, chicken with tear drop pumkin with a die for sauce we created, followed by salad and cheese and then the creme de la creme plum cake with cream that it our world does not exist… no fat free cream here…35% and counting!! Having performed to our best ability, the finishing touches added by Chef, never a dinner has tasted better and we were so very proud of our achievements but boy oh boy… good food, good wine and good company we were ready for bed…homeward bound our last night in the villa feeling just a little full but with memories to take away with us tomorrow that will last a lifetime.
La vie est Belle
Thank you to my treasured guests, a bientôt!!