Friday, October 18, 2013

The miracle of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

We set out on a bright sunny day to visit a couple of villages in the Luberon area. This is high rocky country with gnarled vineyards and little farmhouses. The two towns we went to were both on the Sorgue River, which bubbles up from underground tributaries in the little village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. It seems a lot of people come to see this natural wonder and the entire village is designed around the visitors. it's a bit of a tourist trap, they charge 4 euros just to park and and there are dozens of artisans and trinket stores and cafes lining the route to the source of the river. Everything costs, even the use of the public bathrooms. But the day was nice and the river runs clear and green and the rocky setting was gorgeous.

We saw the 14th century water wheel and paper mill and then looked for a place to have coffee. The place is full of restaurants along the river but they only let you sit there if you're ordering a full lunch. This is another example of the French inflexibility we've encountered from time to time. Finally we found a little streetside cafe where we could sit in the sun for a bit before heading to the next town.

Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is actually on an island in the middle of the river. it's beautiful with canals and pedestrian bridges everywhere and beautiful cafes along the river. This time we were eating lunch so we got to sit at one. Then we explored the town, which has several old water wheels too. It was a big fabric dying centre for several hundred years. Now it's a big antique centre. It seems people come from all over France on weekends to search the brocantes. Most of the stores were closed but we found one that had some delights. Nothing we were willing to drag home though.

About this time I realized I had left my scarf in the first village. We debated about going back, thinking it unlikely it would still be there after three or four hours. But its a favorite scarf from our trip last year to Italy so we decided to give it a try. We drove straight into town past the pay parking lots and pulled up outside the little cafe. I got out of my car and saw a couple of waiters clearing tables where we were sitting. Before I could get there to ask about the scarf, one waiter bent down and picked up a scarf and held it up to show the other guy. It was my scarf and it had been sitting right where I left it allthat time. I called out, Oh, that's my scarf, and he handed it to me, perhaps thinking I'd just left it there a few minutes ago. The whole exchange took less than a minute. We turned around and headed out of town, me with a big smile on my face.  

We now refer to this as the miracle of Fontaine-de-Vacluse. The photo at the top is the little cafe where I left my scarf. There's even a fountain there.


  1. Indeed a miracle !
    The island town sounds lovely.
    Do I see the back end and tail of a Scotty next to the green glass bottle that I am crazy about in your last photo ?

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Good spotting there, Parsnip. You could be right. As for the antiques, they were all so fascinating and tempting. If only there were aneasy way to get some back home!

  2. Tourist trap or not, it looks like a lovely place to go through.


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