The first thing you want to wake up to in the morning is coffee and a croissant and where better than at Maison Lambot.
What a genuinely amazing experience, truly different and unique. Something special that sticks in your mind and is very fun and strange. The experience I had at Maison Lambot would be very different to the experiences that you would have if you were a guest, as I was staying there as a friend of the husband and wife team who run the house.
I’ve known Alex since I was 11, and had visited the house when I was 18. With strong and fond memories, which really have stuck in my mind for many years. At 18, drunkenly stumbling back from the village through the orchard at 1/2am and trying to be quiet. Only to hear a slam of wooden shutters and seeing Alex’s normally charming and peaceful father, shouting at us to ‘Will you please, shut the fuck up!’ That still brings a smile to my face or having Alex and a friend come back from a moped drive, covered in scars and cuts due to not being able to make a decision to turn right or left, and instead of going straight and into a ditch. Finally, the cupboard upstairs, beautiful and yellow, with floral images, bringing back memories of my friend being found inside at 2 am thinking it was a bathroom.
Much has changed since I was 18, and yet it hasn’t. The house and the owners still have an element of wildness about them. An old mansion, built by a renown French Architect, Mr Lambot, had taken an old mill and turned it into a large family home, with garden and views that ranged down the valley filled with grapes.
Three stories, with a basement, and a huge kitchen, which the owners stocked full of excellent breakfast materials. Coffee and Croissant, yoghurt, pain au chocolat, milk, teas, bread, local honey, local jams, all spread out over a long wooden table, with double kitchen doors with large wooden double shutters that open sideways so you could go outside. Outside, was an amazing, almost two storey, veranda with two sets of outdoor tables offering a quite breathtaking view.
Breakfast would have to wait, to get to this paradise, you would need to fly into Marseille airport, (possibly having to wait and watch the French win the World Cup.) Get the bus to Brignoles, turn left out of the airport and head to the busses. The journey to Brignoles which was simple enough, the bus modern, with electrical points, based in the ceiling…. once in Brignole it was a short walk to the tourist office and roundabout made of a fountain, and then either hitchhike or wait for Alex or Kat to arrive and pick me up. I chose the latter, not because of the hitchhiker travel horror movies but I simply had travelled for hours and the thought of attempting a broken conversation in French about how great the French are and how they had won a World Cup with a potentially slightly tipsy driver wasn’t the best way I could think of arriving at Maison Lambot. Although, I would still have to suffer further celebrations of French victory. As the French celebrated the win in the fountain, on cars and in cars, flags flying, driving around the fountain and through town.
After a short wait, I was picked up by another happy Frenchman, although I assume more happy to see me than the victory, as he was not that into football, and we were whisked away.
We travelled through the pitch black countryside, in a small metro, slightly tired but still attempting conversation in broken French and catching up in English with an old friend. We arrived at 11, said ‘au revoir’ to Alex’s friend and moved through the acre long olive orchard to the house.
As we arrived, Alex announced that he aimed to stay elsewhere, by a river, in the countryside… As you could imagine that did not entice me, we discussed, and protested, argued and came to an agreement to stay in his house, but also to jump onto his motorbike and drive down to the river to hang out with his lovely wife Kat, who had set up camp down there that afternoon, with their donkey!
The dirt bike trundled down the way, and the bright light on the motorcycle failed to work, so I pulled out my phone and switched the light on. Not that it made much difference, but it was funny. We meander down dirt tracks with hills above us, covered in dense woods, and grape vines below, with the trickling sound of a river hidden below the grape vines.
We arrived at a beautiful patch of somewhat open ground, tall green grass, a donkey tied up to the left and a hammock and slightly sleepy lady inside. The pitch black night, had stars shining, comets flying by and running water in the background. Beer from a local source was drunk, from the keg, conversation and, reminiscing flowed. Within the hour tiredness had kicked in, and we proceeded back, was an easier journey. We arrived, and I hoped for bed but alas no, Alex had other plans. At 3 am, I found myself being taken down into the orchard, having to water his tomato plants, due to the extreme heat this apparently was the best time to complete this task…
The first day in Provence and adventures already being had.
More next week.