When one thinks of Provence, the images that come to mind are those of summer. Sunflowers, lavender, olive trees, markets with brightly coloured table cloths blowing in the breeze, cobbled streets, shutters and vineyards. Whilst many of these things are here year round, rarely does one associate snow with this part of the world.
We have had a couple of icing sugar dustings in the village but hadn’t realized that after last weekend’s sprinkling, just 20 miles away, snow ploughs and diggers had been necessitated. Their labours clearly evident by the piles of snow, mounded up by the roadside, as we drove just 60 miles north towards the small town of Sisteron. The storm of 3 days ago, quite forgotten in Lourmarin, had left a white blanket over the breathtaking mountainous landscape, brilliantly enhanced under the canopy of a crystal clear, blue sky.
How can a small click of the camera adequately capture such dramatic beauty? The foothills of the mighty Alps, timelessly majestic, dominating the horizon. We had been totally unaware just how close a ‘Tahoe style’ winter storm had been to where we lived and on such a stunning day saddened that all our ski equipment was 5000 miles away!
Sisteron, the tiny town we had set to explore was quiet. It’s streets slushy and cold, shops firmly shut as most people were huddled in somewhat dismal looking brasseries for the all important French ritual of the day, lunch! It was fairly cheerless on a cold February despite the sunshine, although possible to imagine the bustle of exploring visitors on a summer’s day, tables and chairs spilling out onto the narrow, winding streets, everyone anxious to dine ‘al fresco’, not today though!
The cathedral was deserted, the door tightly locked.
The chateaux, at the top of this hillside town, disappointingly unreachable as the road was impassable with snow.
As we left Sisteron behind us we abandoned the autoroute and marvelled at the beauty of the Luberon Valley, serenely cloaked in an ermine coat.
The sofly undulating fields of the Luberon Valley reminded us of England. Only the roads lined with splendid plane trees, so typical and defining of France, reminded us where we were, beautiful, snow kissed Provence.