Charming Village

Wayne does most of the online searching for places to stay when we go to France. We want comfort, (definitely a good bed), proximity to places on our Must Visit list, and a fair price. I usually chime in on the 2nd or 3rd find with ‘This looks great, honey. Let’s book it.’ But he keeps searching. I think it’s the thrill of the chase.

A couple of weeks in Provence was our priority this trip. In 2004 we spent two weeks in Haute Provence, the Luberon to be exact, the westernmost part of Provence. Lavender fields, perched villages, wineries, Mont Ventoux (a must if you’re Tour de France fans like Wayne, I watch it for the amazing French scenery)…it was a great trip.

This time the galleries and sacred sites – and the wineries – of the Cote d’Azur were the goal. But the department is so big we decided on two separate home bases, one in the western area, the Var, and the other just north of Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Downtown Cotignac. Plane trees, sidewalk dining, cobblestone streets. Yup. Charming.

Cotignac was our first stop. A typical French charming village. Current residents, about 2200 of them, live in buildings that date from the 16th-17th century, but people lived here in caves long before that.

Cliff-dwellers lived here in troglodyte caves you can still climb up to. OK so they’ve added that spot with the nice square window, so you can see out once you get there. Wayne discovered this ‘secret square’ one day. ‘Honey, come see what I found! Bring your camera.’
An olive tree in the same square, with the old olive presses in the background.

And some really old steps nearby, which I liked.

Our gite (pronounced ‘jeet’) was in this building, the 1re etage, with the brown shutters and plants on the window ledge. In France the ground floor is the rez-de-chaussee, then you count from 1 starting with the next floor up. ‘Open the windows every day,’ said our hostess, ‘or it’s too damp. It’s a very old building and water runs underneath it.’ And so we did.

We’ve learned, in these very old villages, that you absolutely can’t judge the interior by the exterior. Although some homeowners clearly spend effort on the outsides as well.

Well, maybe not this one. Still charming though, right?

In the centre-ville, there were restaurants, bars (that also served food – though not necessarily lesser quality), and little places for drinks and snacks and desserts.

We never made it to Pauline’s. Opening hours can still be limited in May. Too bad. Because we found her photo in two gorgeous Provence books our hostess had left for us. And we were sure the inside – and the food – would match the outside.
The fountain in front of Pauline’s.
Cotignac’s memorial. Every single city, town, and village in France has one, and every June 6, people turn out in droves to remember. They honour the neighbours they lost in WW 1, in WW 2, and those who sacrificed themselves in the Resistance…a critical part of the Allies’ ability to defeat the Nazis in WW 2.
Cotignac has many artsy shops, too. Wayne’s decided to take up stained glass, so I figure he’ll want some inspiration.
The bench outside our building.
Ah, and of course there’s boules. Very serious business in France, involving accurate measuring tools, used repeatedly to check and re-check how close your ball gets to the 🐖 . And so each game can last a long time!

Our last night in Cotignac, at La Table des Coquelicots, The Poppies Table…sounds way cooler in French, doesn’t it? I love the poppies in France (I may just feel a ‘Poppy blog’ coming on.). They grow everywhere, anywhere, whether invited or not. A local wine, of course…because Cotignac is in the middle of Provence’s main wine region…and another amazing meal in France.

Wayne had the mixed meat grill (duck, beef, veal) and mine was mixed seafood (salmon, swordfish, gambas). And of course salads are always fresh, dressings perfect, and mine came with a serving of melt-in-your-mouth spinach souffle. Mon dieu!

Until next time!