The roadtrip: Forcalquier

I never tire of markets. So when I heard that one of the best Provençal markets was 10 minutes away from our hotel, I literally forced the Italian out of bed and begged him to drive me there. I could hear scarves, lavender and ceramics calling me from the hilltop village.

Life in Folcarquier

Travelling with a sportscar doesn’t leave much room for luggage, but we couldn’t say no to a beautiful ceramic bowl, from one of the shops. It now majestically sits on the Italian’s dining table. If we’d have more space I would’ve picked up some mugs and jugs too, they were so elegant. The Italian would later pick up 15kg of salami and sausages in Norcia, which we had to fit in the car, but that’s a whole other story.

Ceramics

It doesn't get more Provencal than this

Funnily enough, we didn’t actually explore much of the market. Instead, the Italian saw a sign that pointed in the direction of the village citadelle and we had to climb all the way up to admire the view of Luberon. It was a steep road (or path) and we nearly got overtaken by a pensioner couple, who definitely had more energy in their legs than we did. Their footwear was also more sensible.

Private abode in Folcarquier

The citadelle

As we reached the top, I thought it was not a too shabby vista, but the Italian was less easy to please. He slumped down on a stone bench and took a 5-minute power nap. I was keen to continue exploring the region and suggested we (i.e. the Italian) should drive to Saint-Rémy. Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night outlines the village, plus I’d heard of some rather nice boutiques (scarves, lavender, ceramics!), so it seemed like a fantastic destination.

No.

The swimming pool area was empty

Fair enough, it was over an hour’s drive away. We relocated to our hotel instead and had a much needed laidback afternoon by the pool. I managed to pick up a bikini on sale in Folcarquier, as I had forgotten mine back home. I didn’t think the French would appreciate my turning the pool into a nudist area, so I had to buy the only bikini they had in my size: whoever wears it will automatically look like a neon sign. I will never get lost in a sandstorm.

The hotel

Our hotel was fantastic and thankfully, since it wasn’t peak season, it didn’t feel overly crowded. One of the perks was a cosy library filled with books and DVDs; I also liked the surrounding gardens spilling out into plateaus with tomato plants, rosemary bushes and lounge areas.

Couvent de Minimes Hotel

It was good that we had a quiet day, because two days later, when we crossed the border and moved into Italy and Camogli, we had quite an adventure that was far from relaxing. A swell workout yes, but relaxing, no.

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