It’s my birthday today and I’m on holiday in France with my husband. We are staying at the hotel where we honeymooned (is that a verb?) 19 years ago. A rest in the sunshine is just the ticket after yet another trying and stressful year. The children, funnily enough, are staying a just a few miles away with the family of my husband’s colleague. It’s a pity to be away from them on my birthday again but I suppose that that’s something I’ll just have to accustom myself to.
I love this part of France. It’s not breathtakingly pretty, rather it exudes a hard-ravaged kind of beauty, baked by the strong Mediterranean sun. It doesn’t have the bling of its glamorous big sister the Côte d”Azur more of an earthy, workmanlike quality. It is here that they grow the grapes for all the wine of the Côtes du Rhone, Côtes du Ventoux, and smaller Appellations like Vacquéras, Gigondas and the world famous Chateauneuf du Pape. I’m always amazed when I come here how small the growing areas are for these wines sold in supermarkets and restaurants the world over. The area is tiny and the grapes are baked in the strong sun to produce deliciously full bodied, fruity, peppery wines. that knock your socks off when drunk on their own but are a perfect accompaniment to garlicky, rosemary-studded roast lamb.
There’s a picture somewhere among the piles of albums at home of me on honeymoon in June 1993 perched on a wall of the original Chateau. There is a serenity to this picture, long lost. It’s my happy place, and so that’s where I chose to go for my birthday outing. A Medieval Fair was being held in the village streets today and we managed to take some photos, which I shall share below.