• James & Kate

Pedalling past the purples of Provence

Lavender is said to be the spirit of Provence, and often referred to as ‘the French Scent’. Well it certainly seemed just that today. The endless fields of purple flanked our path and perfumed the air, as we cycled away from Sault to Forcalquier. Occasionally the epic Mont Ventoux would come into view, and this time we could admire it, feeling pretty pompous knowing that it’s all behind us (metaphorically as well as literally).

We passed a looooooot of lavender before arriving at our first stop, Banon. This little village only has 1,000 inhabitants and yet it has the 7th biggest bookshop in the whole of France: Le Bleuet was set up by Joël Gattefossé, a former carpenter whose love of literature has helped develop this book-lover’s paradise of some renown, as people come from far and wide to browse through the 150,000+ titles available.

A bookshop being the main draw makes Banon sound a little sleepy, but it’s not. It emanates a vibrant village life, and as we settled down for a mid morning coffee, the locals beside us were chatting loudly and unashamedly sipping away at their Pastis. Probably not the first of their morning, and definitely not their last.

From here we headed into Forcalquier for a lovely long lunch (with special guest - JK’s mum!) and a wonder along its hilly historic streets and squares. Many of these were decorated with bunting and stages were being set up in preparation for la Fête nationale (Bastille Day celebrations), commemorating the French Revolution and the birth of la République.

So we bid you Happy Bastille Day everyone - we’re off to sample some of that Pastis. Vive la Révolution!

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