More Luberon Villages

Continuing with exploring more Luberon Villages as much as we could. We woke up, had breakfast at 7 am, and checked out by 8 am. I paid the room fees in cash to Anne Lise and thanked her for their wonderful hospitality. We rolled our luggage to the parking garage and this time the parking fee was 13.80 euros around 4 euros less than yesterday’s. Of course we didn’t know why the differences but guessing it was the weekend so a little bit cheaper? We didn’t have a chance to visit the Pont d’Avignon so we decided to drive to the other side of the Rhode River facing the old city to see the bridge from there. It has plenty of parking spaces early in the morning in that park and from there, it did have great views of the bridge except that the old city is in shadow so not much in color. Best view would be afternoon! Black and white to bring out the shadow:

A closer look of bridge with only 4 surviving arches:

Next, we drove to our first Luberon Village of the day: Fontaine de Vacluse. I noticed our car has a little compartment with AC flowing in to keep drinks cool and it fit a bottle of water, nice!

After we got off the highway, the narrow paths barely fit two cars and the car in front of us needs a driving lesson…..the driver drove right in the middle and kept hitting the break for no reason grrrr!

We arrived around 9 am and the sign pointing to parking lot was confusing!

Many cars including us went around that roundabout and then had to backed out because it’s blocked for restricted parking! Instead, follow the “parking” sign to turn left and ignore the blue arrow! The parking lot was almost full and it was free to park there!

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse named after the Vaucluse spring, I read that it is the largest spring in France. The algae under the incredible clear spring water gave its green color:

We walked into the park for more photos. It was so bright and we didn’t have our ND filter so that was the best we could do for the bridal veil effect!

Algae and plants under the water:

It was quite peaceful in the park!

Hubby got to every possible corner for photos!

The spring water is actually ice blue!

There was no way to cross the river so we had to turn back and walked around it. On the way out of the park, there is a pretty garden!

There are plenty of restaurants along the sides of the river with beautiful view of the village!

I found that the souvenir shops here sell the lavender pouches the cheapest of the villages we visited…it was 4.50 euros compared to 5, 6, and even 7 euros!

Walking around the loop to get to the other side of the river!

There are more shops too! I purchased a wrap/scarf from a store for 5 euros only, bargain!

Nice flowers!

Over this side of the river you can see the Castle of Philippe de Cabassolle:

And the incredibly ice blue water!

Another water mill here:

We discovered it’s part of an old paper mill! Free entrance to the paper mill! “Entree Libre” means free admission 🙂

It was so cool to see those are still moving!

Continued on along the walk, it was so green!

Water nozzles spraying mist to cool off the heat!

Restaurant Philip with nice view!

Hubby climbed down the rocks for more photos…I stayed up there and took picture of him!

Didn’t I say each village in France has to have a carousel?

I told hubby to turn back since I don’t think there’ll be anything interesting if we keep walking…it’s probably a hiking trail to the top of the mountain. On our way back, we saw fruit stands and this friendly lady invited us to try the cherry – OMG it was so sweet and juicy! We purchased a kilo of cherries right away, it was 4.80 euros for 2 lbs of huge and sweet cherries! It’s one of the must try in Provence! We really missed those cherries!

We walked back to the bridge at the entrance of the village and the light was better to bring out the colors!

Next, we drove to Bonnieux for lunch (around half an hour drive), I read that the best restaurants in Luberon are in Bonnieux! We parked on the parking lot (free as well) on the bottom of the village and then walked up.

It was Sunday so local markets were there – it was like a huge yard sale from the stairs all the way up to the little square! The views were great up here!

There are many restaurants up in the little square as well and we looked at the menus – all looked touristy. We walked down the small street and found L’Arome, one of the famous expensive restaurants. We decided to splurge for our lunch haha! We were lucky to get a table without reservations….now that tells you the restaurant should be great!

I went in to use the restroom and check out the restaurant interior. It was like in a cave wine cellar.

Speaking of fancy, the restroom uses hand towels instead of paper towels!

Time to order…we followed our usual way of ordering a fixed 3 course meal deal and a main course to share. There are two fixed 3 course meals to choose from, one that is 45 euros is translated in the menu (but I forgot) and one that is 30 euros purely in French written on a chalkboard. I asked the waiter and good thing he speaks some English to explain the main course is chicken. I ordered that and hubby ordered the duck with foie gras for 35 euros…more expensive than my meal haha!

The free starter tasted like raspberry creme and it was refreshing!

Now the starter of my 3 course meal – salmon carpaccio rolls. It looked very pretty to eat them! I am not a fish person but I took a bite to taste it, the mix of flavors were interesting and good!

Here’s my chicken with sauce that tasted like BBQ sauce but not quite like was very hard to describe the flavor but it was great. The chicken itself was grilled perfectly – not dry!

It was good portion for lunch…..I always worried when eating in those fancy restaurants the portions are petite that I will be still hungry after the meal LOL!

Hubby’s duck with foie gras, now that is the masterpiece! Duck breast rolled around foie gras and then fried with bread enclosing the duck breast! The layers of textures…from crispy bread to tender duck breast to soft silky foie gras were creative. The flavors blend in so well together and yet you can distinctly taste the duck breast and foie gras. It was that awesome!

My dessert which is my favorite of the 3 course meal – I really can’t tell you exactly what is in it as I really don’t know but here’s what I tasted……the smooth cream made of almond and probably pistachio spiced with mints and the cold cantaloupes smoothie…wow it was so refreshing! It was not overly sweet as well, where can I buy more of this?

Our lunch was total 65 euros but totally worth it!!! I put it this way….great restaurants make great food in terms of quality of ingredients and flavors that’ll make you remember the restaurant while excellent restaurants create flavors and textures unlike anything you have tasted before that’ll make you remember the experience! I wish we have time to come back to Bonnieux to try out their other famous restaurant!

After the unforgettable meal, we walked around for photos of the village…..another charming little village!

Not many souvenir shops too so we walked back to the Sunday Market in the little square:

Actually it’s for the great views of the church and the village beneath it 🙂

Here’s a 3 stars hotel in the village!

On our walk back to the parking lot, I noticed this car……..isn’t there rival between UK and France? haha!

I input Lourmarin in the GPS and off we go….until we saw this!

There’s more of the village on the back that we didn’t even walk to!!! Hubby pulled over and I quickly got out of the car to take some photos!

The drive to Lourmarin was less than half an hour. As soon as we entered the village, we saw a sunflower field!

We parked our car on the side of the big road (free parking) and ran to it! Too bad it was not at peak bloom yet!

We carefully walked down to the field and took pictures, plenty of pictures!

And it was burning hot! We headed to the Sunday market for some shade!

One common challenge in Luberon villages….hard to find placse that sell cold water! We walked through the Sunday market to the little plaza of shops but no sign of cold water!

I don’t think that’s drinkable water!

I was also looking for pharmacy too for sheet mask to hydrate my face but found that pharmacies are all closed on Sundays! There’s a shop in the little plaza that sells cosmetic products and I found a box of wet face hydrating towels so I bought that instead, hey..better than nothing! I also bought a bottle of spray that smelled nice 🙂

In that little plaza, we saw a shop with beautiful art made out of all shells! As I was taking a picture, the owner came out and proudly said he created all those. I asked for his permission for photos and told him those are amazing!

A beautiful angel statue:

We walked to the back streets for photos of another charming village.

Eventually we walked out of the village center and saw Château de Lourmarin on the background.

Small patch of lavenders there and the busy worker bees!

The villages are so beautiful!

We finally find cold drinks at one of the shops in the Sunday Market…iced-cold Fanta!

After Lourmarin, it was already 4 pm and decided to head to Aix-en-Provence to check in at our hotel. Along the way, we saw this massive field of sunflower and pulled over! The late afternoon light was challenging as the sunflowers were facing the

sunrise direction!

Another 45 minutes drive, we reached Aix-en-Provence. It’s a bigger town but smaller than Avignon but the side streets are narrow as well. The hotel has its private lot underground but the drive down there is “a driving test”. The sharp narrow S-curve, on both corners of the driveway you can see scratched marks! Hubby was very careful driving into the lot and then to park the car….it took a few minutes backing in and out LOL. Thankfully our car is compact! We saw another full size sedan doing the same thing….backing in and out. The worst is that each parking space has columns in between and extremely tight too. I don’t understand why it’s designed like that!

I booked Aparthotel Adagio for nights, it’s an apartment style hotel. Our room was spacious and has AC…we missed the AC after the two nights in Avignon without it!

The French-style bathroom where the toilet room is separate from the shower room!

The closet with iron board, iron, and even vacuum!

The shower room…it was spacious and modern! Not sure why they separated the toilet, it sure does have room in here to fit it in!

A desk and finally more than two chairs!

A small kitchen, perfect for us to wash our cherries!

Comfortable bed!

Hubby said this was the most comfortable room so far in our trip in France!

Sunday in France is challenging as many restaurants and shops are closed! I had a hard time searching in Trip Advisor for a restaurant nearby that is open! First, we walked to the Thai restaurant but it was closed….grr the info online was incorrect! But we had back ups….Kiwi Sushi!

The way to the restaurant but we missed the turn and instead walking straight and saw the Fontaine de la Rotonde (taken from my iPhone, I was too lazy to pull out my DSLR from my bag)!

We turned back to the correct street and on the way, we saw a Chinese supermarket but closed on Sundays!

The old buildings in Aix!

We arrived Kiwi Sushi and was the first customers. The waitress is Chinese…….Chinese owned Japanese restaurant..I started to have doubt about the food quality!

We were handed wet towels to wipe our hands…high class service! Then, we were given a free alcohol drink…I don’t drink so only hubby took a sip…tasted like orange juice with liquor!

I ordered a pork chop:

Hubby ordered a beef plate:

Surprisingly both were good and not overcooked!!!! Our filling meal was only 30 euros! If you are craving for rice, Kiwi Sushi is a good choice in Aix 🙂

After dinner, we took a walk to the Hotel de Ville (government center). There was a Sunday market there too but most of the vendors have gone or starting to pack up.

We headed back to our hotel and along the way, we stopped by a market to get water and Fanta. At night, we truly enjoy watching dramas while eating the sweet and juicy cherries! We only visited 3 Luberon villages today, way less than we hoped but no rush; we took our time to enjoy and take photos of each village we visited. We’ll continue with more villages and lavender fields tomorrow!

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