Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime – the Calavon River, Vaucluse

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, but we’re going to be busy getting ready for all the exciting people who are due to arrive (CAN’T WAIT!!), so we decided to go for a picnic today to celebrate.

Despite the brisk Mistral that was whipping through the valley and the unseasonably low temperatures (a mere 11C in Céreste at lunchtime) we loaded a few bits and pieces into the jeep and set off, with the intention of augmenting our hard-boiled eggs and bruised nectarines in the local shops.  We got to Céreste just before lunchtime and split up to maximise our resources – the LSH went to the butcher’s for pâté en croute, coleslaw and crisps and I went to the boulangerie for bread.

Have I mentioned before how seriously the French take their lunch breaks?

Well, we were successful in our original missions, but alas, we were now too late to get to the newly opened supermarket to buy something to drink – we checked its opening hours to find it is closed from 12.30 to 15.30 every day – a three hour lunch break!  What the heck?

Tant pis, we said, too bad (or something like that) and we set off to Apt to go to one of the larger supermarkets.  Thankfully they are cruel, nasty employers who don’t give their staff members time off for lunch, so I bought a litre of blood orange juice, a packet of ham slices, a bar of white chocolate and a packet of peanuts.

Our original plan was to go to the Saute du Moine, but because of the extra trip to Apt, we decided to try a much closer spot, beside the Calavon river, which we had visited last summer.

We found a sheltered spot at the remains of an old foot-bridge and spread the feast out on the picnic blanket.

DSCN3817It was perfect.  Thanks to Jane (of dogsitting fame) we had a cooler for the orange juice and two fancy glasses.  Posh.

We ate our pâte, assembled our sandwiches, munched our peanuts and crisps, washed it all down with lots of juice, ate the nectarines (part of our five-a-day, y’know) and then split the bar of chocolate for dessert.  All the while, there were swifts and martins whizzing up and down above the surface of the water trying to catch flies, but I don’t think there were many flies around, I think the wind was keeping them away.

Then we went for a walk up-river to where we had been last year.  July last year is on the left, today is on the right :

dscn0133 DSCN3826

There’s a good bit more water in it at the moment.

But more importantly, my camera lens is filthy.  Look at the smudginess of the top of the rocky bit.  Gah.

Then we pottered around, trying to photograph the swifts and martins.  This is my best one :

DSCN3827Yes.  That line in the middle is a bird.  Here it is cropped in :

DSCN3827CroppedNot bad for a little camera, really, but I won’t expect the Audubon Society to come knocking on my door any day soon.

Then the dogs had a little paddle but it was too cold for swimming, they informed us.  They politely retrieved a few sticks for us, just so long as we didn’t throw them in too far.


Time to go home, after a very pleasant two hour lunch.  Now that’s a French custom I could get used to.

Now for the serious stuff.

Star Rating (out of 5) : 

Service : ✮✮✮ I think I really need to bring along a butler next time, like they do in Downton Abbey
Food : ✮✮✮✮ A good effort was made.  The pâté en croute was excellent.  Perhaps mayonnaise should be remembered next time
Value : ✮✮✮ I’ve just done the math.  Shockingly expensive for what it was – it cost us €16!
Ambiance : ✮✮✮✮✮ It would have been better value to go a restaurant, but not nearly as much fun!

I really have to learn how to do a good picnic.  Watch this space…

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