We have enjoyed visiting rural Provence and we were looking forward to seeing the Gorges du Verdon National Park area, which turns out to be very different than other parts we have visited. The lake here was created when a dam was built for hydroelectric power, which meant relocating an entire village, leveling the structures in the town, and then flooding the valley to create the lake. It’s hard to imagine such a project being approved in today’s France given the significant restrictions on development around the lake. From what was shared with us, there are locals who do not go to the lake, as it is considered a, “dead” place. Still yet, it has become a main feature of the local economy, which is built around outdoor activities.
While our good experiences in Arles, Reilhanette, Marseille, and points in between peaked our interest in returning to Provence, the real reason for going here was to see Anna and Andre and their two little girls, May and Scarlet, who we met by chance on a previous trip. The entire family ended up coming to our wedding celebration and instantly became family. We booked a trip to Barcelona and sent them a message. Since they were interested in squeezing us in between their travels and moving, we rerouted our agenda to include a visit to them near their home in Roumoules, Provence, France. We continue to try to pronounce Roumoules to the detriment of those within earshot.
The morning after our lengthy journey Anna and Andre greeted us at Ferme Para Lou, where we were staying, with broad smiles, huge hugs and French kisses on each cheek. How do you describe a couple who treats you with kindness, aloha, and an unwavering ho’okipa spirit? You don’t, you simply are wrapped into it and enjoy its warmth.
They whisked us off to Le Monastere de Segries, a 20 year restoration project of a Cistercian monastery, where Dhruv and Annemarie have created a destination for, amongst others, those that wish to learn the language of France. The provenance of the monastery is not as clear as that of the Cistercian Nuns and we are not sure why the nuns abandoned the monastery, but we were thrilled to see the results of the restoration. It is a place that is restorative in more ways than one, and given the provenance of Kalaekilohana, a place that struck a familiar chord.