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25 May 2005 @ 12:00 pm
Grignan, Buis-les-Baronnies and Vaison-la-Romaine: Heading North  
This day I had two destinations in mind, Grignan and Buis-les-Baronnies, both to the north of my base in Orange. In Grignan I wanted to take a look at the chateau made famous by Madame de Sévigné, the seventeenth century writer. Buis-les-Baronnies is less well known. It is however the self-styled capital of the linden tree and it is from this little town that the linden blossom in your herbal tea probably hailes. I visited Vaison-la-Romaine mostly out of geographical necessity -- it was on the way home.

Places: Grignan, Buis-les-Baronnies and Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France
Weather: Pleasantly hot and sunny most of the day but it turned overcast toward evening.
Date: May 25, 2005

Castle Gate
When I came to Grignan the castle had just closed for lunch. Aren't those towers straight out of a fairytale?

So I spent some time wandering around the cute little town. This is a hotel entrance. I also had lunch myself and wrote an LJ entry.

Souvenir Shops
Grignan tries to make the most of its connection with Mme de Sévigné. It tries to be a tourist town and there are the requisite tourist shops. But compared to what you see in for instance Gordes, it's very sedate and much classier. There are more galleries than shops selling lavender honey.

These poppies were growing next to the outer wall of the castle on top of the hill. The colour was impressive, I felt.

White Rose
A bit more restrained were these roses growing nearby. The scent was heavenly.

After the lunch hour, I visited the chateau. This is a gargoyle from one of the courtyards. A castle was first mentioned in this place in the eleventh century but today's castle was mostly built in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

The older northern part of the chateau was derelict. That's where I found this empty window.

This is a balustrade on the terrace giving the inhabitants of the chateau a stunning view across the Provencale countryside.

And here is the view they would have seen. I don't know what the ruined tower signifies, or if it was ruined during Madame de Sévigné's time.

Buis-les-Baronnies is at a much higher altitude than Grignan, so the drive wound its way up through the mountains. It was beautiful.

As I said, Buis-les-Baronnies is the capital of linden flower production. The closer I got to the little town, the more linden trees there were. They were in flower at this time, as can be seen from the photo. I think the red plaque declares who owns the tree.

Yellow Bush
The yellow-flowering bush in the foreground of this photo was everywhere. It had a somewhat cloying, sweet smell. But that's forgiven because it really lit up the landscape. It's a Spanish broom, Spartium junceum, according to ericrovve.

Around the market place in Buis there are covered arcades. Some of them were used by shops as an extension of their floor space. Others were empty and looked very medieval.

Antique Cat
I met this calico cat outside an antiques shop in Buis. Presumably it's just a happy coincidence that it matches the antiques on offer.

The river Ouvèze flows through Buis. There was a leafy promenade on the eastern side of it. Here I'm standing on the bridge that leads to the municipal swimming pool on the other side of the river, looking northwards. Judging from the height of the promenade and that there were only two bridges across the river, I would guess that the Ouvèze is prone to flooding in spring.

Driving to Vaison, I stopped when I saw this ruined chateau above the wine field. It looks like something out of a painting.

This is the single-span, Roman bridge that withstood the devastating floods of 1992 in Vaison.

I must say that of all the little towns in Provence I visited during the holiday, this is the one I liked the least. Mostly it was because of the noise pollution. There were some hoodlums on motor bikes driving around somewhere on the other side of the river the entire time I spent there. The music from the bars on the other side also didn't add to the ambience.

The Haute Ville in Vaison is very picturesque with tree-shaded alleys winding their way up to the ruined chateau on top of the hill.

Here a gate gives a view of a garden and the countryside in the distance, on the other side of the river ravine.

Mont Ventoux
Finally up at the top by the castle ruins, I got this pretty view of Mont Ventoux.

The final picture of the day I took much closer to Orange. It shows wines lit by the last rays of the setting sun.

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