About 6 months ago, I asked Janeen where in the world she wanted to be for her birthday. After careful thought, she came up with Tourrettes-sur-Loup France. It seems that every year they have a harvest festival in March for the end of the Violet season. This has been going on for some time – with Tourrettes-sur-Loup being the center of the activities. Originally the festival had floats and parades but all of that has been scaled back in the last few years. The festival is first weekend in March (the violet’s growing season ends in early March) and includes various events including a conference on making perfumes, musical events, displays and lots of interesting activities.
Once we knew where we were going I started looking for a place to stay ending up at a Vacation Rental by Owner in the village of Vence (about 2km from Tourrettes-sur-Loup). The apartment is nice – 2 bedroom, living room, full kitchen all the things you need for an extended stay. After arriving in Marseille, we picked up our rental car and headed out. In hindsight, it would have been better to fly into Nice but I wasn’t thinking straight when I made the reservations. A little over 2 ½ hours after leaving the airport we found our way to the apartment.
Prior to arriving we had stopped at the market to pick up some essentials but really all we wanted was a place to settle in and recover from the flights (Dulles to Charles de Gaulle and then to Marseille). After a quiet dinner of cheese, fruit and beverages we hit the bed for the night.
The following day we headed out to Tourrettes-sur-Loup to check out the place and figure out parking and all the other stuff related to visiting a small village (maybe 4,000 residents) on a busy day. Well, on Thursday it was quiet – a bit chilly and without anybody around! A tasty meal of lamb and frites, was prepared by a French Vietnamese chef and staff and topped off with espresso.
We stopped at the Tourist Office and got all the necessary maps and schedules and then spent some time wandering around the old section of town. As you can imagine, it’s OLD with all the things that go with Medieval – cobble stone streets, old buildings, winding narrow passages and lots of great views of the Valley.
The City Council has made an effort to encourage artisans to create a workshop and sales space within the old section. This results in some interesting places – olive wood, pottery, metal work, sculpture and other shops are scattered among the more traditional gift shops
and restaurants. We had a very pleasant conversation with a jeweler (from Mexico) who is one of the craft people along the way. He recommended a restaurant (Bistrot Gourmand Clovis – a Michelin star restaurant) we are going to check out next week.
After walking around a bit, we went to the Bastide aux Violettes – the museum of the history of Violets. Along the way we stopped in to a little chapel – very small with very modern art on the walls.
After stopping for a few minutes, we continued on to the Violet Museum.
This is much more than a museum; this space is a really meeting place with past traditions and culture of the violet “Victoria”, cultivated in the village since 1880. The museum covers the history of growing and cultivation of the violet
and gives insight into the use of violets (primarily for perfume). There is also a green house where they grow them but only during the October to March growing season.
More about the Violet Festival, Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Vence as we continue our exploration of the area.
This is the start of almost 3 months in Europe. We start in the South of France, head to Bordeaux, Belgium, Amsterdam (two river cruises start in Amsterdam) ending in Switzerland (after a 10 day tour) before heading back to Paris and flying home on May 15th. So there will be a lot to see and report. Stay tuned for more as we progress along this European adventure.