On a Dime Destinations: Cotignac France, Part 2.

We had another slow start on Sunday, due to our late Saturday night. But that seems to be the rhythm here, and I'm certainly not complaining. 

Today we took a drive to look for remaining sunflower fields up in the Valensole plateau, not far from Lake St. Croix – and the Gorges du Verdon (the French Grand Canyon) – which is less than an hour from Cotignac.

Sunflowers on the Valensole Plateau

We found the sunflowers, but just like the lavender they were past their prime. But still, for me, a stunning sight. We stopped for some refreshments in the village of Montagnac – at what appeared to be the only café in town. My glass of Rose was 1.70€. Amazing. We wandered around, took some photos and admired the gargoyles that had been attached to a stone wall.

Gargoyles in Montagnac

Then we headed towards the Lake St. Croix, and the village of St. Croix. The lake was a beautiful turquoise color, but the town crowded, so we didn’t stop. I have to admit that after awhile these cute villages and hill towns all start to look alike. I was happy to return to Cotignac.

Lake St. Croix

We had the chance to see a free classical concert at the church on Sunday night. We were all tired and nearly skipped out on the concert. But we didn’t. And I’m so glad that we went because it was one of the best classical concerts I have ever seen.

Before the concert we had some time to kill so we walked up the little street behind the church to see the cats of Cotignac. Apparently there’s a woman who keeps 60 cats. Her house was easy to identify by the kitty door in a downstairs window. We didn’t see all 60 cats but we saw quite few.

The Cats of Cotignac

On Monday, we ended up taking a 3-mile hike to the top of the cliff. We got a little bit lost looking for the right path to lead us back towards the town. A nice farmer, tending his grapevines, helped to point us in the right direction – and he posed for a photo. In all of our excitement of finding the right path, we missed a turn that would have taken us to the towers on top of the cliff. And by the time got there we were too pooped to tackle the caves. I’d have to do that tomorrow – my last day in Cotignac. Today, we still need to take a trip to La Calisse for some wine and prepare dinner, as my friends have invited their landlords over for dinner.

Our Helpful Friend

After lunch we hopped in the car for the short drive to Chateau La Calisse. We had called ahead to make sure that they were there and were instructed to ring the bell – which we completely missed when we stopped by on Friday.

At Chateau La Calisse

After we ring the bell we are greeted by Jean-Philippe. He tells us that he’s the new cellar master and has only been on the job for a month.  Jean-Philippe was interesting and the wine was very good. He proceeded to tell us that Alain Ducasse serves their wine in his restaurants. Suddenly the 15.00€ price seems like a bargain. But it is for the quality of the wine. A similar bottle would be at least $30.00 in the US. I buy 4 bottles – which brings my total to 7 bottles to get into my luggage and haul on the train, and home on the metro. Should be a piece of cake, huh?

It’s my last day in Cotignac. I’m sad to be leaving. I still have things to do. We never made it to the nearby waterfall, I’m going to miss the Ceramics Market on Thursday and I haven’t been to an outdoor movie under the cliffs. But it’s Tuesday and it’s market day. I purposely planned my trip for this.

Market Day in Cotignac

The market is huge. I takes over the main street and there are stalls filling the square too – plus the square around the corner by the road that leads out of town. I have 2 things on my list - olive oil and local honey. At dinner last night I learned to get honey from a local beekeeper. I found him easily and bought 3 jars. Plus had a lovely conversation about honey and Monsanto.

Local Honey at the Market

I found some bio (organic) olive oil from the Luberon. It was a bit pricey. But it was very good too. It will fit in nicely with my collection of Italian and Spanish oils at home. I also bought some more of the lavender sachets. I had to stop there because I’m worried about having enough room in my suitcase for my haul.

I wish I could have bought some of the Cotignac peaches. And roast chickens looked amazing. Several stands were making and selling Paella too. It seemed to be very popular. I liked this market better than any I have visited in Paris.

Troglodyte Caves in the Cliffs over Cotignac

After having some ice cream for lunch it’s time for me to tackle the Troglodyte Caves. The walk to caves took me past the old olive presses and up some stone lined sidewalks. This walk was easy compared to our hike the day before. In a few minutes I’m at the entrance and pay the 2.00€ fee.

The stairs up were daunting, but I was determined, even with my bad knee. After the second set of stairs I arrived at the spiral staircase – which the attendant had mentioned, saying that it was limited to one person at a time. I stopped on the landing and admired the view over the town, then looked at the rickety iron staircase and decided that I didn’t need to go up it. I chickened out. But I was happy – at least I saw some of the caves. Maybe next time I’ll climb up?

Would you climb these stairs? 

On the way back I decided that it was time for more ice cream – and I’d earned it too!

We had dinner at home and I attempted to pack my bag, before calling it an early night. In the morning it was obvious that I had a problem. Why didn’t I bring my tote bag from home? We were planning a stop in Aix en Provence before I needed to catch my train. Maybe I can get an extra bag there?

Luckily my friends remembered that they had an extra tote bag and I could pack it with dirty clothes and load my roller bag with all of my wine. It worked perfectly. And I made it home safely with all of my goodies from Provence.