Behind Curtain #1: April in Paris? Behind Curtain #2: April in Provence?

And, I bet you saw this ram and thought you were somewhere in Provence? Ha! But then you looked up and saw the Louvre in the background, disguised a bit with an advertisement on the scaffolding but nonetheless you recognized it! Or, maybe you then thought I had learned how to use photoshop. Wrong…I still don’t know how.

Well, I don’t know about you but I did a double take when I saw this guy chomping on the grasses in this gully in the Tuileries! He posed for a shot and then went on munchin’ and crunchin’, never missing a bite-able beat! What was odd though is no other onlookers seemed to be as mesmerized as I was by the fact that there was a RAM, albeit ‘on a leash’ staked to the ground, contentedly ‘pasturing’ in one of the most famous gardens in the world…the Tuileries, just steps away from the Louvre in the heart of Paris! A simple sign seemed to suffice to warn passersbys to avoid approaching him.

And, this is just one of the reasons why I love Paris. Unexpected, yet sublime. Youthful yet aged. Casual yet sophisticated. Walkable yet grand in size. French yet global.

The photos, above, are still in the Tuileries. I was pleased to see what some might qualify as ‘weeds’ being allowed to spring up in the grass, representing unattended ‘countryside’ spreads of flower living amongst the grasses, yet in the Paris soulful center. Again, a surprise to me since I think of the French as striving for perfection and formality, especially in their famed Paris.

Numerous photos above are of the Tuileries but others cover ground not limited to just the Tuileries proving Spring will be blooming in other parts of Paris too, making for delightful April strolls around the city.

And heading to another April choice….Provence! Hillside villages in the Luberon such as Bonnieux, below, will also stimulate your springtime senses. Orchards, bearing almonds and cherries, for instance, as well as gnarled vines give their show of color.

Did you see the hang glider over the orchard in one of the photos?

The upside down elephant bronze sculpture is the work of Catalan sculptor, Miguel Barcelo, who had an exhibition in Avignon in the summer of 2010. It has a permanent home in front of the Papal Palace in Avignon ever since.

And, since I couldn’t provide another photo of a ram having lunch on the grasses outside one of the Provencal villages, the 6 ton and almost 30 foot high elephant will have to do. A real live ram in the heart of the bustling grand city of Paris yet a metal African animal sculpture in the rolling hill countryside town of Avignon in France!

Bonnieux, Lacoste, Gordes, Goult, Rousillon, Menerbes to name a few of the Luberon’s hillside stone-laden villages with spectacular views and each with their own unique characteristics are surrounded with these orchards and vineyards.

Loumarin, more in the ‘flat lands’ and just a 20 or so minute drive away, is my personal village choice for a market stop on Fridays. Just busy enough to feel the excitement of the shoppers’ energy, offering enough of a variety of farm products, and usually with generous parking, at least at the time of day I used to arrive.

FYI: I found the well-known market in Apt unappealing due to the vast summer crowds it attracts.

Here is a list of the Provencal towns and their market times:

Remember the TGV (fast train in France) gets you to Avignon in 2.5 hours from Paris. To make it easy, book your arrival to the Avignon TGV station that is out of the bustle of the town center. Plenty of car rentals to choose from so you can make your way, easily, once you arrive, to tour the Luberon.

And, which location will be your selection for April? I know what my choice is going to be…BOTH!

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