Treasure: the modern trobadors
Back in 2008, Big Friend and I indulged in that ultimate luxury of vacations pre-baby: the Babymoon. Seriously, whoever came up with this whole Babymoon concept, Bless You! Since I’m always looking for an excuse to escape to an exotic location, what better reason than an impending jail sentence of sleepless nights, squelching diapers, and vomit-crusted shoulders? Our Babymoon took us to Lourmarin, one of France’s Plus Belle Villages, tucked into one of the most captivating regions of Provence, the Luberon. Famously boasting resident writers such as Albert Camus and Peter Mayle (of A Year in Provence fame), Lourmarin, despite its miniature doll-house size, packs as much sumptuous dining, trendy shopping, and addictive people-watching into a square block as an overcrowded New York City mile. In short, a soul-luxuriating spot for a Babymoon.
What’s not to love about Lourmarin? The streets shooting off like wheel spokes from the cafe-ringed hub of centre-ville? The trickling giggles of fountains beckoning like foolish teenage girls around each corner? The way the sunlight seems to emanate upward from the golden straw fields encircling the town walls? I’m not sure a human brain can categorize and retain such all-encompassing beauty. Then, like the folded swirl of whipped cream topping a generous ice cream sundae, L’Oustaloun threatened to send my soul off the deep end.
L’Oustaloun is one of two darling apartments owned and rented to the adoring public by Susan and Towny Manfull. As the Manfull’s website introduction states, “We are passionately, madly, wildly, truly in love with Provence and, having come to grips with these indelible feelings, felt fortunate when we found a pied-a-terre–actually two–in our favorite Provençal village, Lourmarin.” I, too, fell passionately, madly, wildly, and truly in love with the smaller of the two apartments during our week’s stay. In fact, I remember stating (and I stand by my choice still today) that if given the keys to a mansion in heaven someday, I’d trade them in for an eternal occupation of L’Oustaloun.
Since eternity has not yet presented me with the keys and welcome mat to my Provencal dream pied-a-terre, I am thrilled to find a way to journey back to Lourmarin and the surrounding Luberon region on a weekly basis. The Manfulls have recently launched a weekly e-newsletter entitled The Modern Trobadors. “Tobador” is a word resurrected from the Old Provencal language for “finder or researcher.” Susan and Towny are now finding and researching French tidbits to delight armchair travelers like myself, who can almost (but sadly, not quite) feel the liquid quicksilver of a Pastis slide down my throat (as described in Modern Trobadors’ latest post on the art of the Pastis).
The Modern Trobadors covers a variety of topics, ranging from a top 10 list of things to do in Provence, to a brief survey of World War II history in Provence, to how-to guides on making the TGV shuttle you between Paris and Provence. The Modern Trobadors serves up meaty fare for readers who relish an encyclopedic and historical knowledge of a place. Readers will delight in the Manfull’s winning descriptions of the French countryside and inevitably start making mental packing lists for that next vacation (or Babymoon, because a trip to Lourmarin is worth revisiting the subsequent night-wakings, diapers, and vomit stains). The newsletter promises to be an on-going travel guide for the imagination as well as for the actual tourist.
Sign up to receive weekly emails from The Modern Trobadors. It won’t be long until the Trobadors’ weekly e-forays into the French countryside inspire you to visit the Manfull’s rental website for their two charming apartments in Lourmarin. These tastefully appointed apartments offer excellent accommodations for families traveling with children or couples seeking solace from the crowds. You can visit now, but come heaven, let it be noted I’ve got dibs on L’Oustaloun.