When the temperature climbs in the Vaucluse, it's time to head to the water. The tourists may head to the crowded beaches of the Côte d'Azur, but we prefer to stay closer to home. A popular local destination is Le Toulourenc, a meandering river filled with cool swirling pools and shady spots for a picnic. Relaxing by the water with a cold rosé with friends and family seemed like an ideal way to spend Fathers' Day.
The 30 minute drive from Bédoin takes you to the north side of Mont Ventoux along a motion-sickness inducing twisty mountain road. Our friends had texted us directions to a "secret" location along the river known only to a few select locals. The key signpost that would signal our turnoff was a hand drawn kangaroo on a piece of cardboard.
We passed through numerous lovely villages, then realized that we shouldn't have passed through quite so many lovely villages. We had obviously missed the damn kangaroo sign.
Only slightly lost and 30 minutes late (which is still early by French standards), we turned around and backtracked to find the elusive turn. Fifteen minutes later we were there.
In the US if you picnic in a public space you have to stash your wine away like you're a prohibition bootlegger (assuming the concept of a meal outdoors without wine is unthinkable). But the French (and in this case the British) know how to put on a picnic where a glass of cold rosé is as natural as topless sunbathing. There was wine, cheese, bread, homemade cakes, pasta, fruit and vegetable platters, and even pancakes with jam.
Food is a big deal here.
If you're planning a trip to La Maison Rose this summer we would be happy to share our secret sunbathing location with you. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the kangaroo sign.
At the beginning of each summer, the shepherds move their flocks from the pastures in the warming valleys to the more moderate temperatures of the mountains. This ritual, called the transhumance, is celebrated by the running of the area's combined sheep down Bédoin's main street.
On June 11th at about 6pm, locals and tourists by the hundreds gathered in anticipation of the spectacle. Thinking ahead (which is very unusual for us) we had reserved a sidewalk table at our favorite boulangerie so that we had a prime viewing spot.
Armed with cold Orangina, ice cream and poo-resistant footwear, we waited for the big moment.
At about 7pm the faint sound of bleating could be heard approaching from the south, and moments later a fresh breeze confirmed it: the sheep were on their way.
Led by a team of noble shepherds and a few kids with donkeys, a river of sheep baa-baa-baaaa'ed their way through downtown Bédoin. They seemed markedly uninterested in the people who jockeyed for position with cameras to capture a lifetime of mutton memories.
I can't be sure, but it may have something to do with the fact that these sheep are destined for dinner plates -- I suspect they were in a hurry to get the heck out of town as quickly as possible. Only one word can describe the aroma of a thousand sweaty sheep: "Ewe."
Do you like sheep? Perhaps you dream of one day having a flock of your own. Or maybe you just like to drink wine while watching a river of wool and lamb chops. Whatever your passion, join us at La Maison Rose in June 2018 and witness Bédoin's version of rush hour traffic for yourself!