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24 May 2005 @ 12:00 pm
Pernes-les-Fontaines, Venasque & Gordes: Fountains, Cats and Mountains  
My ultimate goal on this day was Gordes but the hotel landlord said that Venasque was much nicer, like Gordes before it was discovered by le jet set. Seeing that Venasque was more or less on the way, I thought I could compare the two villages. Looking for some peace and quiet I also put the 11th century Abbaye de Sénanque on my itinerary. But my first stop was going to be Pernes-les-Fontaines. I wanted to see if it lived up to its name.

Places: Pernes-les-Fontaine, Venasque, Abbaye de Sénanque, Gordes, Provence, France
Weather: Pleasantly hot and sunny all day.
Date: May 24, 2005

Pernes-les-Fontaines does indeed live up to its name. There were many, many beautiful fountains, all spouting abundant, clear water. It was lovely. The guide book says that there are 36 of them all in all. It also says that Pernes is an "exquisite small town," which I can only agree with.

I liked it so much, that I returned in the evening for dinner. In an LJ entry that I wrote at the time, I got my snark on.

Black Cat
There were also many more cats in Pernes than in any other town I visited. Some of them didn't mind having their photo taken. Like this black cat sitting in front of the oh-so-French green window shutters.

The River Nesque flows through Pernes. At one point there is a bridge combined with gate in the city walls. That's where I took this photo. It's called Porte Notre Dame de Nazareth and is from the sixteenth century, according to my guide book.

Angel Shop
Nearby along the sedately running river, I found this angelic shop. The name means "the softness of angels" and I think it was a tea shop. Regardless of what they sold, the trompe l'oiel on the facade is charming.

Another cat that didn't mind being photographed was this Siamese. I think he placed himself very well there, in the frame of the wire mesh fence.

Venasque Framed
Venasque was my next stop. Seen from below, framed by the trees lining the road, it looked like a fairy tale village on top of its hill. The Rough Guide speaks highly of the food in Venasque and my lunch at Les Ramparts was excellent and cheap. The view wasn't too shabby either.

Ile Flotante
In fact, in an LJ entry written at the time, I was raving about the food. This was the dessert, an Ile Flotante.

The village of Venasque is certainly picturesque, as this arched alleyway shows. The hotel landlord was right about there hardly being any tourists about too. It was very tranquil.

At one end of the village, I found this church, part of which dates from the sixth century. It's built on top of a Roman temple that is thought to have been dedicated to the Goddess Venus.

On a more intimate scale, I liked this fig tree with its green, unripe fruits.

Mountain Road
The road between Venasque and Abbaye de Sénanque winds its way through the mountains of Les Vaucluse. Normally I take out things that date photos, such as cars. But in this case I left the car to give a sense of scale. It's silver, in case you have a hard time finding it.

This photo of Abbaye de Sénanque looks very peaceful but it was anything but. I was hoping to find some serenity in the cool interior of a mostly-empty church but the place was heaving and they were turning people away from the guided tour. The tour was the only way to get into the actual abbey. So I bought some of the lavender honey that the abbey is famous for and continued toward Gordes.

There was more calmness to be found in Gordes, despite my landlords somewhat snobbish attitude toward the village. This little alley is a case in point. There were more tourists about than in Venasque but there was still plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in.

Going out of Gordes after a satisfying wander around the village, I stopped at an obvious overlook and for this view of the village on top of its hill. Looking at it like this, it's no wonder that tourists flock here. It's an incredibly romantic place.

Gordes Panorama
I liked the view so much that I shot a panorama too.

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