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Our 2019 Adventure in France & Spain (part 4 – Provence, Carcassonne)

Written by Jeff Drake
10 · 14 · 19

Provence Outings and Carcassonne

During this trip we drove all over the Lubron Valley, visiting small towns and plus beau villages.

There are all sorts of churches throughout France and the Dordogne. Interestingly, so many of the monasteries are Cistercian, the 3rd strictest order of the Catholic Church. Or at least they used to be 3rd, back years ago when I cared about such things. (For the record, I was accepted to apply to be a Trappist monk at one time. They even offered me a draft deferment! LOL!). These abbeys are often situated in very serene areas, good for meditating, I imagine, and often good for photography!

We visited Notre Dame Senanque Abbey on October 16th, 2019. This is still an active monastery, although I don’t believe it is Cistercian anymore. It’s famous on the internet for the field of lavender that grows in front of the abbey (which you can see if you click on the link). Needless to say, the monastery gift shop is loaded with lavender-infused products.

You’ll probably notice that most of our days in Provence were cloudy and frequently rainy. We all took it in stride, but the weather made for some good photo drama!

Here are a few photos of the Abbey:

Notre Dame Senanque

Notre Dame Senanque

One thing we discovered is that the roads in France, unlike so many roads here in the states, typically do not have turn-offs or places where you can pull your car over to take photos. I know I missed a lot of shots because there was no place to safely stop the car. Once in a while though, on the country roads, we could stop and Lisa could grab a nice photo like this one of a completely serene landscape:

Idyllic French countryside

Did you know that France has its own Venice? By this I mean a city riddled with canal waterways, thus similar to Italy’s Venice. It is called L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and it is a town on the Sorgue river in Provence. It is a well-known tourist hot spot because of its famous open-air market. This meant, naturally, that it was high on our list of places to visit, because we love markets! So we visited on market day!

While not quite Venice really, the canals in L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue do make for some pretty pictures!




L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue garlic vendor


L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue Interesting mushrooms!


L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue Olives anyone?

We also took a day to do the drive from Roussillon to Cotignac. Cotingac is really kind of off the beaten track, although it is only 90 minutes from Nice, I believe. It is definitely not a huge tourist location, but tourists do come here frequently, many due to their belief that Mary and Joseph have both made an appearance here. This is a big deal to Catholics because Joseph has only made a few appearances since his death, preferring his wife, Mary, to take all the bows. Mary apparently really likes France, because she’s appeared in various locations around the country.

As is often the case, curiously, the locals were compelled to build a church on the site where Joseph and Mary appeared, of great benefit to the pope, of course, a method referred to these days as putting “butts in seats.” The church is called, Notre Dame de Graces.

Regardless of the religious myths surround the town, Cotignac was a lovely place to visit! Wow, so quiet and picturesque! Here are a few photos from the church called, Notre Dame de Graces:

Notre Dame de Graces


Notre Dame de Graces

Another place we drove through is the famous Verdon Gorge area of Provence. People try to compare it to the Columbia Gorge and I’ll admit that it is pretty. But I don’t think it’s quite the same as our Columbia Gorge. You can be the judge yourself:

Verdon Gorge

At the end of six days, we had to leave for Sarlat-la-Caneda and the Dordogne region of France. Leaving was kind of hard. I loved Provence!

On our way to Sarlat we stopped for one night at the medieval fortress of Carcassonne! I have mixed emotions about our visit here. On the one hand, it’s a huge fortress and picturesque as hell, but on the other hand there wasn’t a lot to see there. Perhaps Lisa and I have been to one too many fortresses over the years? I think it was fine we only spent one night there. Besides, I think we were all anxious to get to Sarlat and our next base camp!









My next post will focus on the Dordogne region of France, specifically around our base camp village, Sarlat-la-Caneda.














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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.
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