Europe 2013: A Morning of Olive Oil and Art in Provence

Some friends had advised us that, in the small towns of the south of France, you’re often better off eating at your hotel than taking your chances in the nearest city, as you might have to drive some miles before finding something to eat. We found out soon enough that our meals at La Bastide du Boulbon were very decent value-for-money too. It’s not that the meals were cheap – basically, nothing is once you convert Singapore dollars to Euros – but the quality and quantity of food were just so darn satisfying that it really didn’t matter if breakfast cost 10 – 20% more than at a random cafe elsewhere.

James vs the egg-cup: I'd say he acquitted himself very well for a first-timer!

James vs the egg-cup: I’d say he acquitted himself very well for a first-timer!

See this bread basket? It tasted every bit as good as it looks.

See this bread basket? It tasted every bit as good as it looks.

There were also vast quantities of fresh fruit and cereals, and all the coffee/tea/juice we wanted. James in particular fell in love with the apricot juice (partly hidden by a slice of bread in the photo just above) and has been very sad indeed that nothing we get at home comes close.

Jan, the hotel proprietor, had lots of great recommendations for how to spend a day in the area around Boulbon. He set us up with brochures and a map, and sent us off on our way.

First stop: the Moulin du Calanquet, a family-owned olive mill. They do let tourists get quite close to the production process, but we didn’t want to be a bother so we amused ourselves by watching their in-house video and then buying a few bottles of olive oil as gifts and to bring home.

The mill, from the outside.

The mill, from the outside.

So I thought lavender season was over, but there were random bushes of the stuff growing nearly everywhere we went.

So I thought lavender season was over, but there were random bushes of the stuff growing nearly everywhere we went.

Before the next stop on Jan’s map, there was an instruction to stop at the bend in the road between two huge rocks because of the great photo opportunities. Okayyyyy…

As it turned out, the view was amazing. This photo hardly does it justice but it's the best we could do!

As it turned out, the view was amazing. This photo hardly does it justice but it’s the best we could do!

It was around this time that we theorised how it made sense for so much of Europe to have believed in a higher power. It would have been easy to have faith when living amid these beautiful sights and believing that God created them. (And provided rain and sun for the harvest, etc...)

It was around this time that we theorised how it made sense for so much of Europe to have believed in a higher power during its history. It would have been easy to have faith when living amid these beautiful sights and believing that God created them. (And provided rain and sun for the harvest, etc…)

Rocks. With James for scale.

And here is a random picture of rocks, with James for scale.

Onward we went, to the Carrières de Lumières, an absolutely brilliant multimedia show set inside a rocky cavern. It actually sounds really kitschy when I think about how best to describe it, but here goes: the works of various artists who lived and worked in the Mediterranean are projected onto the walls and floor of an entirely dark series of caves, and the projection is animated and set to music. (I swear, it is nowhere near as kitschy as I’m making it sound!) The whole experience was highly sensory, and for someone like me who doesn’t always ‘get’ art, it was a great way to take in some beautiful works by artists like Monet and Chagall.

The series of caves was in pitch-darkness, except for the projected art on all the walls and some of the floors.

The series of caves was in complete pitch-darkness, except for the projected art on all the walls and some of the floors.

"I wonder what the folks at the Louvre are thinking about this treatment of art..."

“I wonder what the folks at the Louvre are thinking about this treatment of art…”

 

A selfie, because that's how we roll, and also to show the cave surfaces in daylight :)

A selfie, because that’s how we roll, and also to show the cave surfaces in daylight :)

 

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  1. Europe 2013: Random Provence Bits and Bobs | all the world just stopped now - November 30, 2013

    […] admission ticket to the Carre des Lumieres (which I mentioned in the previous travelog post) was bundled with admission to the nearby Chateau des Baux. The surrounding village of Les Baux was […]

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