Once upon a time things happened that were magical to carry us through a difficult time. When I mentioned I needed to find a place somewhere in Europe to meet my daughter, who was in Denmark on a study abroad program, I was offered a place to stay in Provence in the south of France.
Our hosts were Italian professors at a university in Aix-en-Provence and my friend who arranged this amazing opportunity actually apologized to me that they were not French. They were wonderful, welcoming my daughter, son and me with open arms. (We were able to host them when they visited Nashville a few years later and that felt very good.)
Their house was in the medieval hilltop village of Ventebren. Had I had rented it as a b&b for our stay, I could not have afforded it. Similar lodging in this tiny town rents for $1,500 a week. The streets were so narrow we had to leave the car in the carpark. As we pulled out suitcases to their house, we could easily touch the buildings on both sides of some of the streets.
~~~~~Our hosts’ house had a foundation with arches that they said dated back to 1200CE. The lowest level was used at one time as a tavern. Now, they used the lowest level for storage and accessed the house through the small garden into the second level.
There was the living room, with 3 steps down to a kitchen. Out the side was a circular stone staircase. The bathroom was a half a flight up, then the entrance to the master bedroom and its bathroom, then another half flight up to another bedroom and one more half flight to the loft overlooking the living room and the final half flight up to the finished attic bedroom. It was unique and magical and we loved it.
There were winding streets to explore,
a windmill that produced olive oil
~~~~~~~~~~and nearby was a viaduct, built much later but in the Roman style. The viaduct was our landmark when the roads twisted us around and we got lost. It was a glorious week, and provided the magical setting to give us an island of peaceful time together.