Friday, October 12, 2012

Provence Vacation - Part 3

Back in September, Muschi and Paschi took us on vacation to the Luberon region of Provence.  Here are some pictures and my notes on our time there. 


Donnie and Paschi fetch bread from the neighboring village of St. Saturnine.  Rain threatens.   We while away the morning at Le Rosier while Louisa takes her morning nap. Finally,we emerge from the house and drive to the nearby Colorado Provencal, a nature park with hiking trails that take you by the famous ochre cliffs. After feeling rain drops, we decide to abandon the Colorado and find an indoor activity.  Soon, we're driving though a downpour--nature confirming our judgement.  We head towards Gordes, in the hope of visiting an olive press museum we'd passed on an earlier day.


We eat a picnic lunch at a scenic overlook below Gordes, and after meandering through several tiny villages, we find the museum.

The olive press museum, Le Moulin des Bouillons, was created after Frederique Duran, a glass artist, purchased an old farm building and found the remains of a Gallo-Roman olive press in the basement.  She turned the farm into a museum complex, with the olive press museum on one side and a glass museum on the other.  Surrounding the glass museum is a garden featuring the artist's own glass and metal sculptures.

The mill, where the olives are ground before pressing.  Behind, a window by Frederique Duran.

In the sculpture garden.

Though Frederique Duran's chunky, geometric style is not to my taste, the vision and reverence of the place impress me.  It's obviously the work of many years and its creation fueled by lofty idealism.  The two small museums are meticulously designed to tell a story about man's quest to master his environment.  There's a mystic lilt to the information leaflet they give us at the glass museum.  Its description of the evolution of glass making is full of exuberant declarations like "man learns to shape clay.  He has made something out of Earth and has become like a god!"

We have an excellent guide at the olive press museum and she provides my favorite factoid of the trip:

*Roman amphora used to contain oil and wine, are pointed on the bottoms, because the ships the used to transport them used sand as balaste.  The pointed vessels could be driven straight into the sand, creating a more stable arrangement than if the vessels were flat-bottomed like ours. 

Two take-aways from the glass museum:

*The advancement of technology sometime happens through serendipity.  They theorize that glass blowing was discovered when one of the workers who was blowing through a reed to get the melting fire hot dropped one end of his reed into the molten glass.  He tried blowing on the reed to clear out the glass glass blowing was born.

*How necessary glass technology was to the advent of modern science.  It's easy to take beakers, flasks, and test tubes, for granted.  Many Enlightenment scientists had to become glassblowers to come by needed equipment.

That evening, Donnie and I go out for dinner leaving Muschi and Paschi to babysit.  We eat at a nearby restaurant, The Colorado  The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.  The smell and heat from the wood pizza oven make the damp night cozy.  We both order the the menu fixe and drink a bottle of rose.  It's a lovely dinner.  We talk about education, which seems to be our favorite dinner topic these days. 

No comments:

Post a Comment