13 September 2017

Suitcase. Provence: Le Mas Des Etoiles, Gordes

It is rare that you can travel to a country on the other side of the world and yet still feel as though you are being welcomed by family. Well. It happened to me in Provence.

Rewind to last week and my adventure began in Avignon. After collecting my hire car I hit the winding country roads, heading for a spot on the outskirts of Gordes - Le Mas Des Etoiles. My home for the week.

For those who are unfamiliar, 'mas' are traditional French homes in the region and 'etoiles' is French for stars, therefore; House of Stars.

Owners Francois and Annette welcomed me with such warmth that I immediately felt as though we were friends. Their charming Provincial home has just 5 guest rooms and I often shared breakfast or an evening aperitif with everyone together on the terrace; the owners, the guests, altogether as one.

Little English was spoken which was fantastic practice for maintaining my little-used French, but if you need it, both Francois and Annette speak fantastic English.

Every morning I dined on fresh fruit from their garden, the kind of buttery, flaky croissants one can only get in France, and bread with goats cheese and homemade fig jam.  Very quickly I fell into a lovely routine of breakfast on the terrace, venturing out in the car to visit 4 or 5 towns, then returning to sit by the pool before evening drinks and dinner at sunset.

Le Mas Des Etoiles is a mere 5mins from Gordes so this historic town was one of my first stops. Possibly the region's best known hill-top town, its origins date back to the 8th century, and its crumbling walls and narrow cobbled paths are a testament to this.

With uneven stones and steep decents I was amazed to see that somehow the elderly residents navigated them better than me! In any case, a word to the wise: wear sensible walking shoes.

Venture a little outside Gordes and you'll find Abbaye de Senanque, a church with incredible 11th century origins. But trust me when I tell you, you'll smell it before you see it. The building is lined with row upon row of lavender and whilst I only caught the tail end of the season, the scent still wafted strong as ever on the breeze.

It's been a while since I've travelled solo and boy have I realised that I've really missed it. If you haven't already tried it, please book a trip. Going it alone really forces you to stop and savour the moment. There are so many things you miss when with someone else, travelling solo forces to you notice every detail, every choice you make, every discovery. It's all you. You did this. I think I get my own personal high from it - there's no greater feeling. So go on, give it a go!...

Provence has certainly been a highlight for me. I'm planning to return next year and take my mum - I think she'd adore it! Book your stay direct with Le Mas Des Etoiles for the best rate. They're already taking bookings for next year so get in quick! Stay tuned, there's more from Provence coming soon...

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Photos by Krissie.