Day 2 – Pick up rental car at Nice airport> Valensole> Bonnieux> Lourmarin > dinner at Gordes
I was so glad that Mr Map made it to the hotel late at night as I don’t have a driver licence. People don’t realise that most people from Hong Kong don’t have a drivers licence, because the city itself is quite small with possibly the best (and cleanest) public transport system in the world, though Mr Map has been hassling me to get one for a long time now. I would be quite worried about how to get to Gordes without Mr Map; the only other possibility would be to do a day bus tour. As soon as we finished our breakfast, we took an uber ride (approx €16) from hotel to Nice Airport to pick up our rental car, which is actually a lot cheaper than a taxi.
You can find all the car rental companies here. It is quite obvious which car rental Mr Map chose – Budget, as we always go for the budget choice, undoubtedly the smallest (cheapest) car. We reserved a car for the next 5 days. While I was sipping my drink, relaxing while waiting for Mr Map to get the car keys, he came to me and asked if we need GPS as it costs €60! Knowing that my map reading skills and my internet might not have signal in some areas, I told him that we will need GPS regardless of how much it costs. Later we found out that the guy meant €16 instead of €60 for the GPS, his accent almost gave Mr Map a heart attack!
We finally got the car key for a Renault Megane. Apparently, it is a relatively new car. Please make sure you get the staff to set the GPS language as English or it might take you a while to figure out how to change the language setting.
We were ready for our 1st stop – Valensole! It is about 2 hours drive from Nice airport. I saw a lot of photo tags over the internet regarding Valensole with the sunflower and lavender fields (see this website).
We were there in mid to late August (week of 21st Aug) and all we could see were half dead, wilting sunflower fields. It would be quite impressive if we came here during the full bloom. Some site suggested that it is best to visit Provence for lavender during late June to July. Oh well, guess we have to plan another trip to come back in future 🙂
We hardly saw any people in Valensole. I guess it gets really quiet after the lavender season.
Since there wasn’t much else to see in Valensole, we drove to a beautiful hilltop town called Bonnieux.
Most tourists climb 86 steps up to the 12th Century church Vieille Eglise for the best view point of the town. We were put off by the heat and decided to walk around the town instead of climbing more steps, and also to get a better vantage point to get a photo of the village itself.
It was on Mr Map’s agenda to visit the Musée de la Boulangerie at Bonnieux. As we got there later than we expected, we decided to skip the visit. I think Mr Map is more interested in tasting the bread than the history of bread anyways.
After our quick visit at Bonnieux, we drove to the nearby village Lourmarin. It is more lively than Bonnieux and with many side walk cafes and restaurants. The Nobel prize-winning author, Albert Camus, also lived in Lourmarin.
We stopped at Cafe Gaby for late lunch. It has a high rating from tripadvisor and it is recommended by lonely planet. It is a great cafe for people watching (the European term for just sitting, relaxing and doing nothing), the food was okay, though just sitting outdoors and relaxing in the setting of a quaint old village, makes it quite enjoyable.
Address: Place Ormeau, 84160 Lourmarin, France
We drove to Gordes after our late lunch to check-in at our hotel. It was quite windy and cold when we arrived. The weather was a bit strange for Gordes in late August. Mr Map wanted to have dinner at the restuarnt in the hotel at first but after looking at the menu price, and examining his wallet, he decided against it.
We ended up having dinner at La Trinquette which is about 5 mins drive from our hotel in Gordes, or if you really feel like it, it’d be about a half hour walk. I had a difficult time walking as my high heels weren’t really adequate attire for the approach to the restaurant, there is a steep yet short downhill cobble street. The short walk across the minefield of cobblestones was well worth it though, we loved this cozy restaurant.
I have to admit, once I entered, I knew I would love it. The setting is quite intimate, and the relaxed ambiance makes it quite popular with both locals and tourists. I ordered a glass of rose as it is famous in the Luberon region. Mr Map could only have a sip as he had to drive us back to hotel.
We ordered the homemade foie gras (€13.8) as the starter. I was expecting a pan seared foie gras and slightly disappointed when I saw the pate. It was surprisingly good and I definintely loved the jam that comes with it.
We order the beef tenderloin with foie gras sauce (€26.5) and the roast pork with lavender honey (€16.5) for the main.
The apple dessert was really quite good, simple yet a perfect combination with ice cream.
It was a great dining experience overall. The restaurant is cozy and the food was great. We would highly recommend for anyone staying at Gordes.
Address: rue des Tracapelles, 84220, Gordes, France
We had a food coma after the big meal and immediately fell asleep after getting back to our hotel.
Have you been to Luberon region in France? Which area is your favourite? If you enjoy reading my blog, feel free to follow me on twitter @MinionTravel to get the latest update.