In this part of France it seems that winter is formally declared over at the end of February. It’s an arrangement which, if winter keeps its side of the bargain, we are totally in favour of. Certainly the temperature has been warming up and a lot of flowers are beginning to peek out, including some rather fine dwarf (are we still allowed to call them that?) daffodils in our garden. In keeping with the change of seasons, we shall be making a return visit to Les Courmettes this week as the centre reopens for spring.
But although we’ve been busy with various work activities during the week we’ve managed to do a little bit of local exploring which has helped us get a better feel for where we live. So we visited the splendidly preserved if rather stark abbey at Le Thoronet, home to the first Cistercians in Provence; which is very inspiring but cries out for some large ornamental gardens or something.
We also scrambled up a local hill, surmounted by the tiny chapel of Sainte Brigitte, at the nearby town of Vidauban and got a fine view northwards towards Taradeau. It’s fun to see the snow still on the mountain peaks, although it has been melting rapidly. And one evening on the way to the supermarket we pulled off the road and walked up a signposted track to a viewpoint, with an orientation table and a metal cross. Good views again of our house but we were also able to see far into the distance.
Looking westward we could make out the extraordinary massif of Mont Sainte-Victoire which looms over Aix en Provence and which so fascinated Cezanne that he made about 80 paintings of it. In the other direction, we could make out the distant summit of the Pic de Courmettes.
It’s interesting to note that despite the symbolism of the cross looming over Vidauban and Taradeau there probably isn’t a lively church fellowship of more than a dozen of any denomination, Catholic, Protestant or whatever, for at least thirty miles. Nevertheless we hear stories of new fellowships, home groups and Bible studies starting up in the area and who knows what will spring from them.