In 2007, I travelled to France with a then new acquaintance (now a good friend), to attend the wedding of a common dear friend. From Paris, we took the train to Laudun, Provence, where we stayed at a delightfully rustic bed and breakfast, Le Mas de Caesar. The b&b is pictured above along with its owner, Pascal Emaille. The lean-to house on the right is the home of Pascal and his wife, Brigette.
We stayed in one of only three rooms in the b&b. The fact that there were only three rooms lent more charm to the place and made our stay extra special. The sumptuous four-poster bed, mediterranean tiles, warm hues and muted lights in the well-appointed room instantly won our hearts! So much attention to details!
Our room had an en suite bathroom…
…where the proprietor had thoughtfully placed requisite provencal olive oil soaps for our use. Again, such glorious details!
The windows opened up to a view of a natural wooden archway flanked by lavender bushes. Beyond the archway were young grape vines and pine trees. Instinctively, I breathed in the air expecting to smell lavender, pine trees and perhaps fruit. Surprisingly, the air did not smell of anything but was undeniably fresh and crisp. It was also my first encounter with wooden shutters that actually had a purposeful use aside from aesthetics. The shutters served as protection against the occasional strong and cold wind called the mistral.
Each morning, we had our breakfast under the shade of a sprawling olive tree.
We were served very fresh bread, homemade jam, freshly squeezed orange juice, kiwi, hot chocolate and, my absolute favorite…
cherries freshly picked from the b&b’s orchard!
Pascal took us on a little tour of the orchard and the vineyards. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the cherry tree which was heavy with fruit!
There were also fig trees and many, many others!
While taking a walk in the vineyards, Pascal stopped to show us a mistral-beaten wild cherry tree which, in cruel contrast, grew beside a mistral shelter. Pascal took pains to climb it and gather some fruit for us to taste. Although smaller than the cherries from the orchard, the wild cherries were sweeter.
We were surrounded by endless, disciplined rows of grapevines and also by a still silence. The entire experience was beautiful, peaceful and stirred nostalgic sentiments even if I had never set foot there before.
At one point, Pascal asked us where we were from to which we replied “Manila in the Philippines.” Upon hearing this, his eyes lit up. “Oh you are from Manille!” he said. He then enthusiastically invited us to his house as he wanted to show us something. We could not figure out what it was he wanted us to see.
Could it be his provencal kitchen? Although charming, this was not what he wanted us to see. (This was what I wanted to see 🙂 I will not write about the kitchen though as I am taking a break from kitchen posts.)
He took us to a corner of his living room where, near the seating area, a soft spotlight shone against a treasured painting on the wall.
“Do you know where I bought this painting?” Pascal asked. After a few wrong guesses (Paris? Rome?), he finally said: “I bought this in Boracay!” It was a painting of the streets of Binondo. Apparently, Pascal and his family previously vacationed in Boracay where they chanced upon this painting which was up for sale. He bought the beautiful painting as he found the brush strokes very artistically rendered. Of course, painting aside, Pascal and his family fell in love with Boracay just like all the other visitors to the island 🙂
So there we were, in the heart of Provence, amidst picturesque vineyards and an orchard, staring at a lovely painting by an unidentifiable Filipino painter. It was really just a happy coincidence, nothing of major national interest or relevance, but our hearts swelled with national pride just the same.