This is the life my dreams are made ofALANA DIXON
After Paris, Provence had a lot to live up to. Don't worry, it did.
After the train, we picked up a car in Aix-en-Provence and drove out into the land of sun- warmed lavender and gnarled vineyards, heading to the tiny village perche of Vacheres in the Luberon Valley.
Although the drive wasn't quite as relaxing as it sounds - les villages perches are on steep cliff tops, and come complete with roads so tiny a Peugeot struggles; plus all that lavender wafting through the air makes falling asleep at the wheel a very distinct possibility - we made it.
I fell in love hard.
I was in love with the rustic stone villa we stayed in. I was in love with the view of the rolling countryside. I was in love with the people who were kind to me despite my fumbling attempts at speaking in French. I was in love with the fromage.
Mostly, I was in love with the idea of what life could be like if it was spent there.
My imagined life in the Luberon went a little something like this:
6.30am: I wake up early (don't scoff, dairy farmers) to the sound of the wind rustling through the trees outside the window of my charming, full-of-character country house. Perhaps some gentle yoga?
8am: I am eating fresh baguette on the patio and reading Le Figaro.
9am: I arrive for work (this part is a little blurry), where I speak fluent French all day.
1pm: I take advantage of the leisurely three-hour lunchtimes to browse the markets, where I pick up some trinkets with which to furnish my spare but tasteful villa. I spend the rest of my time tanning - because here in France, I go brown, not lobster.
6pm: I sip a glass of rose, surrounded by my wonderful French friends at the bistro. We laugh at all of the bon mots exchanged over our organic, locally sourced dinner. I am clad solely in Celine and Balenciaga, which my job (again, a little blurry) easily affords me. I snack on all the brie I want and do not bust out of my designer attire.
10.30pm: Tucked up in my super-king, my chores miraculously and meticulously completed, I drift off to the gentle snoring of the golden cocker spaniel, resting in his wicker basket in the kitchen.
(His name is George.)
In reality, life in the Luberon would go a little something like this:
6.30am: Still awake, lying in my sagging-in-the-middle double, after a frightful night of listening to the toenails of dormice dance across the clay tiles of my ramshackle roof. I do not have the energy to downward dog. Not today.
8.45am: After a solid 20 minutes of sleep, I'm now running late for work. I try to negotiate the spluttering 1973 Citroen through the village, scraping the paint job as I fail a 23-point turn.
10.45am: I am employed in something offal-related. Surely I've been here longer than two hours? My belief that my second language would take off once I lived there is not going so well. I'm pretty sure my boss (who I picture as having grotty tufts of back hair) is swearing, though.
1pm: I ignore the markets outside. Instead I sob in the toilets, thinking about my awful offal job and how all the brie in the stale baguette I just ate is going straight to my bum. Merde merde merde.
6pm: I drive home and drink most of a bottle of cut-price cat's wee masquerading as wine. From a mug. In the dark, because the infamous mistral has blown in from Siberia and has torn down a tree, right on top of the power lines outside my dilapidated "fixer upper".
10pm: Even the dormice have somewhere warmer to sleep than me. I am too depressed to look on the bright side.
A girl can dream.
Images: A field of lavender (top) and a lavender for sale (right) at a market in St-Saturnin-les-Apt, my favourite of the perched villages.