October 14, 2019
The last two weeks have been a blur. We have driven from the Dordogne to Bordeaux to St. Emilion to Carcassonne to Montpellier to our current location, Bonnieux, in the part of Provence known as the Luberon.
This is the area made famous by the British writer Peter Mayle in his bestselling “A Year in Provence” and in many follow-up books and novels. Mr. Mayle lived in Manerbes, about 10 kilometers from here.
I have never read any of his books but yesterday, after settling in at our (very) little cottage outside Bonnieux, we drove to Manerbes and walked around. Like Bonnieux, Manerbes is a hilltop town (“village pendant”) with a great view of the surrounding countryside.
I’ve been to Provence a few times but it is wonderful in the fall. The tourists are mostly gone, the air is clear and it’s not so damned hot. Manerbes has amazing in-town houses, an interesting clock tower and some fairly precious little stores. It is more dressed up than Bonnieux and draws more tourists, even in the off season.
We continue trying to speak French whenever we can and we seem to have made some progress. No one laughs outright at us, although some do ask if we would prefer to speak in English. Our landlady is an attractive, older Swedish woman who has been living here for 40 years. We started out speaking in French but that seemed ridiculous after a while, so now we converse in English.
So, count this among the blessings of retirement or semi-retirement: The ability to travel outside the peak summer months. Lower prices, smaller crowds, better weather and a general sense of relaxation.
Below, the clock tower in Manerbes. More Provencal posts to come — right now I have to get back to real work to help fund our travels.