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.