I have to admit that I have been somewhat lazy lately, because it’s the family’s summer break and I want to unclutter and refresh my brain and my body.
This year the price for car rentals has been so stupidly steep-twice as much as last year for the same vehicle that I said a firm ‘no’ and we decided to drive via France and Spain in our own car and so far, it has been a good choice. I didn’t like Eurotunnel-too hot and claustrophobic but the rest of the drive was pleasant and we were very, very lucky with traffic.
One of the places we decided to stay overnight is a well-known bolt hole and is called Bastide de Marie in Luberon. Luberon has been put firmly on the map a few years ago by Peter Mayle, much to the locals annoyance and his own….-later.
Our close friends really like Bastide de Marie and thought it would be a good idea to have dinner with the kids there. I had a really romantic notion of the place, based on the stories of my girlfriend and the cover story of Marion Cotillard of the recent edition of American Vogue was shot there too. So, we arrived and were met by closed gates and our surname was demanded in order for us to drive in. So far, so James Bond.
The staff wasn’t particularly welcoming-they were more like annoyed hosts, who didn’t expect you to come. The room that we had was cute, but the windows were tiny and there wasn’t much natural light-and who likes artificial lightning during the day? The bath has seen better days and the bed creaked, even if you simply touched it’, let alone got frisky with you other half.
We walked around the grounds-pretty, but I have seen better in other French hotels, and explored the ‘inside’ of the hotel, which is very quaint and charming, rustic French with beautiful furniture, antiquities, paintings and cute objects d’arts.
There were lots of people with kids-French kids are so orderly it’s almost like they are the old souls, reflective and well-behaved. Dinner time arrived and we settled around a little table on the outside and had drinks and plates of local charcuterie, breads and olives. The menu was limited to two choices each for starter, main course and desert and it took ages before we were sat down at the table-and we did make a booking in advance, as ours was a big party. It took another hour for the food to start materialising, by which time we were all seriously hungry-thankfully kids had the bread and salty butter ‘on board’, so weren’t too grumpy, unlike their tired parents.
I could hardly believe my eyes when my main course-the fish arrived-it was so tiny it probably took one bite to finish it and obviously, I was hungry. My husband’s pork chop was huge and meaty and he devoured it with gusto and by the time we were done and ordered deserts, it was getting late and even older kids were getting tired. By the time desert was presented it started raining, so staff, very orderly and fast on this occasion-for a change, transferred us all inside-my verveine tea never found me again, so even though desert was good, I went to bed greatly disappointed.
Shall I even bother to tell you that breakfast was highly disappointing too-you had to cater for yourself, as the staff was mostly absent than present. And so were most of the mums, mostly likely taking advantage of the swimming pool and spa, while slightly dissheveled dads ran after their orderly and lovely kids.
All in all, I couldn’t wait to leave and drive to Spain as for me, on this occasion, the so-called reputation didn’t transfer into quality and enjoyment. However, in a later post, I will tell you about the most wonderful place we visited before we came to Luberon, so vive la France, full of gastronomic surprises .)