Although we thought we had a reservation for a gite in Sablet, we found on arriving that our reservation had not gone through! This was before the days of smart phones and fast internet searching, so we went to the nearest city, Vaison La Romaine, and asked for help at the tourist office. We quickly got a reservation at the Hotel Beffroi, located on a hill overlooking the centre-ville. This solved our short-term problem, but we still wanted to find a gite.
After moving in, we went exploring. At the very top of the hill there are ruins of an old chateau, and from there one has an excellent view of the city of Vaison.
There was an outdoor exhibition close to the hotel, “Des Pierres et des Hommes.” We were just passing the picture below when a man strolled up and exclaimed “Bonjour monsieur!” And well he might, for the subject seems to be right there in a window.
The man, most likely French, spoke with us enthusiastically about the picture, remarking that a lot of work must have gone into making it. This kind of photography is an art. We were drawn back to the exhibition several times over the next few days.
We went back to Sablet to find a gite, as we wanted to offer a room to our friend Carol, who was also extending her vacation in France after participating in the singing tour, described in earlier posts. As the tourist office was closed for lunch, we took in some of the sights in the village.
The people of Sablet have a droll sense of humor, posting signs such as “Le chien dort qu’avec un oeil.” or “Chat lunatique.” The views from the village square were impressive:
After lunch, the tourist agent gave us the number of Alain Grosmougin, who she thought would have a gite for us. We thanked her, left a message on his answering machine and returned to Vaison to explore.
The hill where our hotel was located is connected to the centre-ville via a stone bridge over the Ouvèze river.
One of the main attractions of the city is Le Musée Théo Desplans, a museum adjacent to some ancient Roman ruins.
Sabine was the wife of Hadrian; she is dressed in typical 2nd century fashion according to the plaque by the statue.
After dinner at the Beffroi we got a call from M. Grosmougin, who indeed did have an apartment available. We arranged to meet him in Seguret, about 15 minutes’ drive from Vaison, the next day. The apartment was just right for us – two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen, a patio, a splendid setting at the edge of a vineyard, and a shared swimming pool. The apartment was available precisely for the five days we needed. All for the same daily rate we were paying for our hotel room.
This adventure shows that tourist offices in France are very useful. Generally the agents speak several languages, know the territory and are very helpful with maps and advice, even with making phone calls. Another key amenity: usually the offices have public restrooms as well.