There is a saying: “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” About ten years ago, my adult daughter and I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s in Michigan with my sister and a number of her family members. It was comforting and satisfying to spend time with them. Then my daughter returned to her home in California and I headed to Paris and Provence. I was scouting out apartments for a lengthy future stay in Paris as well as in a Provencal hillside village. Traveling with less made sense and, after all, I was headed to Provence which has weather much like Northern California, so my daughter agreed to lug my boots back to California.
The featured image shows the TGV (fast train) station in Avignon, which is about a 45 minute drive from the primary village I was ferreting out for my future stay. I rented an apartment for a week’s stay just barely on the outskirts of Bonnieux and had some appointments lined up to see a few apartments that I had narrowed down with my search while still at home.
At the time, La Domaine De Capelongue (https://www.relaischateaux.com/us/france/capelongue-vaucluse-bonnieux-en-provence) had a one bedroom duplex apartment I could rent for a week, in the winter, at a very discounted price, so I secured that reservation before arrival. I rented a tiny car (tiny villages with tiny (narrow) streets and tiny cars work well together. That, I had already discovered prior to this visit to this area.)
The next two photos, above, I quickly snapped upon my arrival and before the winter sky went into its early darkness. Lovely! The modern apartment ptoved to be exactly as I expected it to be. And, the next couple of days that followed went well. I decided on an apartment right in Bonnieux so I could walk to everything and it had all the other amenities/qualities that I was hoping to include for my long term stay.
After my recent divorce, a hardy interior design job winding down, started my first semester of school for my master’s, selling our family’s beloved property in the Napa Valley, well, there were dramatic changes to every aspect of my life, including a health scare which, ultimately, was the last thing that pushed me toward a decision about taking a sabbatical, so to speak. As I told family and friends, the hair on my arms is standing straight up and so a village with a ‘butcher, baker, and a candlestick maker’ worked for me. I gave myself permission to hibernate for as long as I saw fit during my long stay in Bonnieux and, at times, I did.
Just as I wrapped up a rental contract in Bonnieux with the rental agent, this is what started to happen overnight…
Within 24 hours, this is what the view changed to out my apartment’s vast windows! A true Winter Wonderland!! Absolutely stunning! But with the snow measuring at about 8 to even as much as 12 inches deep, not only was Provence at a standstill but also much of France…and beyond!
In fact it had hit the USA East Coast too so two women who were going to be joining me for lunch that day were not able to fly to France. Another, from a different area of Provence wasn’t going to make it either since the roads were impassable. Remember, this is Provence/southern France. And, it was my birthday! Transportation was shut down everywhere…planes, trains, my rental car was heavily buried in snow, the roads–Another thing to remember, HILLSIDE village and ice and snow do not mix….. nothing was open in town anyway. No snowplows to be had.
I had planned for my friends and I to have lunch at the Capelongue restaurant. After all, the owner/chef was a Michelin 2 star chef and, as said, it was my birthday! So….change of plans….I decided I would, singly, have lunch there anyway because my grocery supply had dwindled and now my intention of more shopping the following day wasn’t going to be possible…remember also my OH-so wise decision of not bringing my boots was proving to not be OH-so wise.
I called the Capelongue reception and told them my dilemma. The next I knew the chef, Edouard Loubet, had an SUV and drove the short distance to pick me up. He escorted me through the snow and then while setting me up to have my lunch in front of a roaring fireplace in one of the sitting rooms in the main hotel, he handed over a glass of wine to me–‘at the ready’–perfect!
Since we weren’t sure if we would get dug out or simply have to rely on a sun melt, he arranged for me to take some ‘doggie bags’ home and a bottle or two of wine. And, one of the staff continued to fill my breakfast basket every morning. Now that is what I call service!
I ended up having to extend my stay a few more days. I changed my train ticket, car rental return, Paris hotel reservation and I was then set for a couple more days. I simply gave in to the pleasure of a few more days in my ‘room with a view’ which turned out to be a taste of what it was going to feel like for me when I returned in the Fall for my lengthy stay. Take a look at ‘my’ Winter Wonderland! A unique and spectacular experience!
The mounds between the vines are chunks of lavender.
I didn’t see anyone ride the bike that week!
The snow just enhanced the vines climbing up the apartment facade.
So as not to disturb their guests in the morning, a staff member would deliver a baguette and croissants in the basket on the door. I already had a slab of butter and jam given to me as some of my supplies at check-in time.
I stayed in the 2nd row of buildings.
Are you able to see the table and chair on the terrace next door to my apartment with a curvaceous pile of snow?
The pool was not in use!
The long views with the more usual Provencal sunshine enhanced looking out the expansive apartment windows as I read my book(s).
Follow the road to the right and you are in Bonnieux.
A few days later while I was out for a walk to see how the roads were coming along, I met up with a Bonnieux mother who was pulling her daughter up the hill, on a sled, on the side of the road.
The icicle formations alongside the road were even stunning.
Bonnieux–my home to be, later in the year!
The last week of Advent and the theme is Peace. This visit to Provence established the idea of a sense of Peace. And, the return months later to Provence extended and upheld that sense of Peace. As another saying goes: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone (Neale Donald Walsch). And I was in for a thrill of a ride!
Winter Wonderland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2QWDHjoLyo