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21 January, 2018

Peter Mayle's "A Good Year" in Gordes, France

I was deeply saddened to learn about the recent death of one of my favorite writers...Peter Mayle. You may know him as the author of A Year in Provence and numerous other books written about and set in the Luberon in la Provence profonde...deepest Provence.  My thoughts went back to a trip to France several years ago, inspired by his writings and in particular his novel A Good Year.

One of the settings of the book is the beautiful hilltop village of Gordes, one of the 157 Plus Beaux Villages de France...the most beautiful villages of France. And it certainly lives up to its title!

In the center of the village is the Château de Gordes which was rebuilt in 1525 and has existed since 1031.
However, I was fascinated by the colorful market...

...with its beautiful produce...

...and a little restaurant that looked like a postcard...

...and had a funny name...Mon père était pâtissier...My Father Was a Pastry Chef!

But the heart of village life centered around a wonderful fountain which created a pleasant sound and served as a drinking station for the local dogs. 

And you may remember it because it was front and center outside of Fanny's restaurant in the movie version of A Good Year starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cottillard.

As a fan of both the movie and the book, I have to admit that one of the highlights of our trip was having lunch at the location for Fanny's restaurant and thinking that perhaps Russell Crowe sat in the very place where I was sitting!  lol

But right in the middle of our lunch, an extraordinary thing happened...a party of about a dozen people arrived to dine at the restaurant and a noticeable change in the demeanor the patron and the servers took place.  A soft-spoken man with an English accent in his French was the head of the party and I knew immediately who he was, recognizing him from the outtakes of A Good Year.

It was director Ridley Scott who had come to have lunch at the restaurant he had chosen as Fanny's place for his movie! I couldn't say one word or dare to take a photo! I discovered later that he owns a home nearby. What a wonderful surprise!

After lunch, we took a little detour, passing a vineyard and heading for...

...the little hilltop village of Ménerbes where Peter Mayle's home that he so famously renovated in A Year in Provence is located! Sadly, a local pétanque tournament had the little village so packed that we were unable to park so we made a stop at the base of the village for a quick photo...

 ...and then headed back to the lovely town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorge. It served as a base for our explorations and was also the location for one of Peter Mayle's novels. That pretty building is actually the bank that was the focus of a robbery plot in Hotel Pastis! You can't go very far in the Luberon without encountering a Peter Mayle location! 

And if you'd like to spend a little more time in Provence, here's a TOUR OF THE PROVENCAL FARMHOUSE where we stayed while we were there! Enjoy!

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  1. Love, Love your mini tour and yes that fountain from one of my favorite movies that YOU turned me on to. :)

  2. Thank you for the memories. We sat under the umbrellas in the square having lunch for my daughter's 22nd birthday. Right on cue the French Air Force flew over as if to say happy birthday. We called the day 'Russell Crowe Day' as we scooted around trying to find the film locations.Such a beautiful day!

  3. Loved the mini tour and that fountain, i remember the movie and now i want to see it again,lol!

  4. Planing my first trip to France this summer. Thank you for the tour. Lovely.


  5. Gordes and Ménerbes are charming.
    Next time, venture a little bit west to the relatively undiscovered region of Languedoc. Carcassonne has a fantastic fortified city. The Canal du Midi runs through it, and it's surrounded by vineyards and adorable villages (and lots more medieval castles).


Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I appreciate my wonderful readers!... Debbie