When Hans and Lottie Reizjer, our very good friends from Holland, invited us to join them in their rented villa in Aups France  we gladly accepted. Six years ago we stayed with them in Lorgues. They enjoy a much more relaxed holiday than we, but a chance to do nothing seemed most inviting after a very busy year. 

Getting there was more difficult than we had imagined as we arrived a day after severe flooding during which 29 people were drowned, over 20 went missing and many literally left homeless. We drove from Nice and reached Flayosc, some 20 kms away from Aups and found all the roads blocked. Only after much driving back and forth trying all the side paths did we finally find a road open to Aups. The lower part of the village Aups had no electricity or potable water.


Our days in Aups had a very special routine – sleep as late as possible and when we were all ready, we would walk down to the medieval village when we would first go to the boulangerie to buy pain chocolat, apple slice and whole wheat baguette. Then off to the news stand to buy newspapers in French and English. Then we would walk to the coffee shop by the village square. There we would order coffee and eat whatever we had bought  or brought, while reading the morning papers. (see This Week's Picture June 19, 2010).  To Eitan and I this was the most amazing thing – that the coffee shop sold only coffee and tea (and liquor) but nothing to eat, not even sandwiches. 

The rest of the day we spent swimming, reading and cooking and eating. We even found mulberries trees ripe with fruit which we picked  for dinner. At night Hans, Lottie and Anthony watched soccer and then we played bridge.  Lottie and I were partners and took great delight that despite virtually no bidding conventions, we held our own against Hans and Anthony who had a most intricate bidding system – final tally, three all.

Saturday morning was a big day as the village square became market square. That meant it was hard to find a table at our coffee shop, but good as Hans could sit while the rest of us went shopping and left our parcels with him. 

On Sunday, while having our coffee, a sudden downpour and hailstorm had the bikers – bicycle and motorbike – anxiously pacing up and down the coffee shop while we discussed whether the roads would be closed again. But we reached Auberge de Chateauvertes for Sunday lunch, and although we couldn't sit in the garden, we enjoyed the warmth of the dining room. The specialty of the restaurant was either lamb or quail – and both were good. The quail was roasted in front of the fire with the aid of a weight/pulley system which rotated the quails.

On Monday Eitan and I took advantage of the good weather and drove to Les Gorges du Verdon. We visited Moustiers Sainte Marie  perched on a mountain slope. We walked around the quaint village, window shopping. Afterwards I walked up many steps to the Church of Marie.  A crusader knight Blacas d'Aups had promised to string a star over the ravine if he returned safely, and so he did. We then drove around the Gorges. 

We had bought a mediocre pictorial guide to the Gorges du Verdon, but it did contain one most important piece of information – where climbers go to scale the Gorges. I had visited there a few years ago with Morris and Jackie Kahan and Yona Weisman and remembered the place well, but had no idea where it was. We drove right around the Gorges and arrived at this amazing vertical wall, the Escales cliffs. We were fortunate to see a rock climber negotiate the last few meters with great difficulty. It was important to us as we remembered Fern, who in her climbing heyday had led a climb up this extremely difficult and frightening ascent.
rock climbergorge

Hans and Lottie decided to return to Amsterdam early. So on their last day we shared a farewell breakfast and afterwards as they made their way to Holland we drove to Aix en Provence. We spent a delightful day walking the city, full of open squares and fountains and statues. We even found the medieval Jewish Quarter.  Cezanne was born in Aix but the city has few of his paintings. At the Granet Museum I enjoyed Granet's paintings, a few early Cezanne paintings and a remarkable self portrait by Rubens.

Hans and Lottie said that after holidaying for a few years in Aups they would go someplace else next year. We are prepared to follow them anywhere!