A short drive from Le Diamant Noir, through Aups and on to the Lac Saint Croix, takes you to the lavender plateau, a world away from the 21st bustle of day to day life.
Here nature is taking its course, allowing the carefully cropped lavender plants to rest over the winter months, before gathering their strength to produce the most spectacular sight of lavender plumes again in the summer.
A beautiful warm February afternoon, showed the peace and beauty of this region at its best. In the distance the snowy caps were a reminder that here too it is winter, but today there was a feeling of spring in the air.
The day dawned cool, bright, but windy. However as the morning progressed, the wind dropped, resulting in a perfect day for the twenty first truffle festival in Aups.
Crowds gathered for the demonstration of man and pig in search of truffles. The wise old pig was able to sniff out the buried truffles without any problem
Meanwhile a market selling truffles and derivatives was well underway.
The products on sale were very extensive, with several artisanal products, from local saffron falvoured jams, to truffle flavoured aperatifs. Local cheeses, olives, olive oils, nougat, patés , honey adorned the stalls. The truffles were priced up to €800 per kg- a valuable commodity. Brushes to clean the “diamant noir” were for sale as well as special cutters for slicing the truffles wafer- thin. Also on sale were packs of gnocchi with truffles, risotto with truffles, pasta with truffles, dips made from truffles, truffle oils——
The bars and cafés were buzzing, and while enjoying beverages of choice, the crowds were entertained by the local fokelore group, before descending on the local restaurants à midi, for special “truffle” menus.
2014 has now arrived and we turn our thoughts to the forthcoming season ahead.
We are pleased to be filling our calender with bookings, and will be delighted to welcome new guests in the months ahead, as well as those returning to share our corner of provence.
The weather so far this winter has been kind to us, with lots of sunny spells, and crisp clear days. The scenery is as beautiful as ever.
Christmas and New Year festivities ended last night with La Fête des Rois – Epiphany. This is another excuse for a party and the “galette des rois” is the culinary delight to be shared on this day.
In the north of France the cake is in the form of an almond pasty and in the south it is an orange- flavoured brioche with crystalised fruits. a charm is hidden in the mixture pre-baking, and then the person who gets the piece of cake containing the charm, wears a crown and is the king or queen for the rest of the party.
All good wishes for 2014 from Le Diamant Noir, Aups
At Le Diamant Noir, Aups in the Haut Var, we are proud to provide an ideal habitat for many species of insect life that inhabit the Verdon region.
We become the home to many visiting butterflies, which are attracted to our garden by the numerous buddleia bushes.
Continue reading Welcome to The Butterfly Garden!
Less than ten minutes by car from Le Diamant Noir, Aups, in the Haut Var, is the most amazing natural site. The site of Saint Barthélemy, is a magical shaded park, a protected area with incredible wildlife and vegetation- a really beautiful spot.
Ample parking is provided for visitors, and as it is a perfect place for a picnic, tables and benches are provided, under the shade of the mature trees.
This area is home to the spring of the river Bresque , which flows through Salernes, and has played an important part in the production of ceramics and tiles, for which the town is well-known for.
Here in this incredible, enclosed valley, the cool and crystal clear waters of St Bathelemy’s pond lie still, right at the base of huge cliffs, as you enter the park. The vegetations is mirrored in the clear water below. Trees provide shady areas to keep cool on hot summer days.
Then there are large grassy areas edged with beautiful oaks and pines, with plenty of room for families.
Down at the edge of the stream, are the most beautiful dragonflies of varying colours, while the stream is home to fresh water crayfish.
The water can be crossed by purpose made bridges, but much more romantic is the crossing with stepping stones.
A walk through the valley, with paths amid the wildflowers, take a trip to a historic past , close in to the base of the rocky cliffs, where caves have been carved out. Skeletons have been found , providing evidence of pre-historic habitation in these elaborate caves.
Although the wildlife is protected, the park has been made available for recreation, and access into the caves is allowed- what a place for adventurous children!
Another feature of this park, is the presence of a perched chapel , built in the 16th century and then transformed in the 18th century, it has now been totally restored.
The site de St Barthélemy, has its own story:
According to legend, this was the home to woodland nymphs. the gods were jealous of their immense beauty and did not want the mortal princes to be able to reach them. Therefore they carved out this park, leaving the sheer faced rocks . when the knights arrived on horseback, they could go no further but the nymphs disappeared into the depths of the park, plunging their suitors into great despair. the gos then felt sorry for these men and turned them into ppolar trees. Legend has it that the trees multiplied, and this is why there are so many trees along the edges of the park.
If ever there was a home for woodland fairies this is the ideal spot! It is the prefect place for childhood reverie.
Don’t miss Le Diamant Noir BBQ evening
In high season we have a weekly BBQ evening- good food-good wine and above all good company!-
About half an hour from Le Diamant Noir at Aups, you can reach the lavender plateau, where the fields of purple are truly worth the trip. The lavender harvest is now under way, so some of the fields have been stripped of their pharmaceutically, valuable crop.
Not only can you find lavender, but also fields of vivid yellow, where sunflowers turn their heads to worship the sun.
bees on sunflowers-provence
We were lucky enough to capture both provencal jewels in one shot!
Do make sure that if you visit the Lac Sainte Croix that you also visit the plateau on the western side.
Meanwhile on the lake there is plenty of family fun, as the pedal boats make the way up the Gorges du Verdon
Lac Sainte Croix, Gorges du Verdon
family fun Lac Sainte Croix
For those who want a quieter location, the lakeside spot at St Julien du Verdon, near Artignosc, is worth visiting.
Throughout the summer months, various extra provencal markets are set up , in order toattract the tourists, and to provide a market for local producers to sell their goods.
The market today was dedicated to “flea market” treasures and antiques taken from local bastides, and local artisan products to include, local honey, truffle derivatives, various preserves, olive oil, local wines, saffron and lavender products to name a few.
Despite the heat, there was lovely breeze, which made browsing pleasant, while the live music set the atmosphere.
Next Sunday there will be another market for local artisans and on the next three Thursday evenings there will be evening craft markets
Do look out for local notice boards which advertise the summer activities organised in the local villages.