Jun 22, 2014

Provenceneyland™: Rouleau de Provence


Provenceneyland™: nickname for an area in Southern France, coined by my friend Sarah, with a high level of almost unnatural cuteness, stereotypical charm, surround-sound summer cicadas, and near-constant 360' photo-ops. Frankly, the models we have for our photo shoots don't hurt.


About the only fly in the ointment is the heat-wave, with temps in the high 90s, which sometimes makes it a bit difficult for this group of fleece-wearers from San Francisco and scarf-wearers from Paris to function in good humor.

We arrive in Provence in Avignon, where we see the papal palace (from the 1300s when Avignon was, for a brief period, the seat of the papacy).

Of course, no trip here would be complete without a trip to the famous bridge, so that we can dance on top of it and sing "Sur le pont, d'Avignon..."

We stay near Gordes, a famous little hilltop village in the Luberon region.

And we pass through Bonnieux, another famous little hilltop village in the Luberon region.

Basically, there are adorable hilltop villages throughout the Luberon. Many. Everywhere. This place is littered with them. And while there's a certain amount of blending (now, which cute hilltop town is this again?!), some of them have distinctive features.

Fort de Buoux, for example, is less a cute hilltop town and more a cute hilltop ruin. It seems like the perfect place to play at warrior princess, with swords and handcrafted, bejeweled Venetian masks. 


Roussillon is a cute hilltop village whose distinction is that it is made on and of many shades of ochre. Don't adjust the color on your screen; that's just the landscape.

Oppède-le-Vieux, on the other hand, is a cute hilltop village and ruins, all rolled up into one. It's a hot and dusty walk up the hill, but luckily there's ice cream at the top, so all is well.


There's that old adage about pizza, or sex: Even when it's bad, it's good. Well, despite occasional crowds, difficult parking, and overly hot weather, even on its worst day, it's pretty special to be with good friends in Provenceneyland™.

THE CHEESE: Rouleau de Provence

This delightful raw goat's milk cheese from  Alpes de Haute-Provence is made by only a handful of farmers, following a tradition of pasturing their goatherds on the plateau where they can find all the fragrant flowers and herbs of Provence -- thyme, rosemary, sage, and beautiful wildflowers. This point is driven home by the sprig of thyme that traditionally graces the top of the small log.

The cheese is creamy, white, fluffy, and light, almost more like a mousse than a cheese. And the flavor is light, lemony, and with obvious hints from that bouquet of flowers and herbs. It is, of course, perfect for spreading on bread, but perhaps if you want the true taste of Provence, it's just as important is to accompany this cheese with a glass of rosé.


This gorgeous, light, feathery, summery, delicious, refreshing cheese from Provence (and even named Provence) perfectly represents the unreal charm of Provenceneyland™.


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