Drôme Discovery Tour

The weather has been beautiful — blue skies, bright sunshine and temperatures in the high 50’s during the day. Our daughter, Laura, is here with us at Chez Mirabel for the holidays. We decided to spend a full day on a grand sightseeing circuit of the Baronnies, the surrounding hills for which our village was named. This tour was inspired by our friends Dick and Laura, who live in the nearby village of Piégon. This past November they took Rick and Martha on this splendid outing. We were inspired to follow suit, based on their glowing report.

Patient sheep dog watches as his herd grazes during a lunch break by the side of the road.

Highlight of the day for us was being stopped on the road to Le Poêt Sigillat by a large herd of sheep and goats. Shepherds walked along the road with the herd and sheepdogs kept the strays in line. Many of the sheep and goats had bells on their necks, clanging as they walked. Listen to the sheep and goat bell music we heard.





Steve and I in front of the church at the Chateau d’ Aulan


Here’s our itinerary — we had a wonderful day! We drove up the Eygues valley to near Rémuzat, turned right onto a very small road up & over Col de Soubeyrand, dropped down into the beautiful Ennuye valley, went over Col de Peyruergue to the upper Ouvéze valley, had a lovely lunch at the small restaurant Auberge de la Clavelière in Saint Auban sur Ouveze, took road to the historic chateau at Aulan, stopped at beautiful gorge below it, took a quick look at Montbrun les Bains (with another restaurant we must try), passed right under north flank of Ventoux through Brantes, and then took the back way to Mirabel (through Faucon).  –Dory

Laura enjoying a café outdoors at picturesque Montbrun-les-Bains.



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Noêl at Chez Mirabel

Christmas lights strung along lane in front of our house.

View of our living room windows and chandelier with Christmas lights outside.

This is our first Christmas in Mirabel and we’re having a marvelous time. The village is decked with strings of lights along the lanes and around the stone doorway to the church.  As soon as we arrived, neighbors greeted us warmly and we felt right at home.  Jean-Phillipe and Virginie, our next door neighbors, invited us to traditional Christmas dinner. Here’s the menu, course by course — all served with the most wonderful wines and Champagnes. It was a most memorable Christmas day! We are grateful for all our friends and family, here and at home, and send you all our warmest holiday greetings. — Dory

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Salmon gravlox with whole grain toasts
  • Scallops sauteed with boudin blanc & topinambour
  • Foie gras with artichoke and pepper gelée
  • Roast goose with truffle mashed potatoes and hot apple compote
  • Green Salad
  • Cheese
  • Buche de Noêl
  • Café

Virginie and her daughter, Natasha.

Jean-Philippe carves the Christmas goose.

Dory’s happy smile on Christmas day.

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Tour of Completed Renovations

Martha and I recently returned from a wonderful November spent in Mirabel. There will be more posts coming which will describe our many fun activities, but I wanted to quickly publish pictures of the completed renovation:

(A larger version of this slideshow is on the website’s “Pictures & Videos – House” page.)

We are overjoyed with the result, and the house functions as well as it looks!


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Chez Mirabel inspires artists

Karin Harris’s  luminous watercolor of  our front arched entry along the Impasse des Fleurs.

In September, I led my annual Art Escapes workshop to the south of France. We stayed at the Chateau d’Arpaillargues, located in a charming village just outside of Uzes, about 1.25 hours drive from Mirabel. After the workshop, photographer Bob Cantor and artist Karin Harris joined me for a few days of enjoyment at Chez Mirabel.  The warm, sunny weather inspired Karin and me to pull out our paints and brushes. We captured our impressions of the Impasse des Fleurs – our peaceful corner of Mirabel-aux-Baronnies. Many scenes in this village await further artistic exploration. Endless “art escape”opportunities lie ahead! –Dory

Here’s a quick watercolor pencil sketch I made of the table, pots of flowers and window by our front door –a wonderful place to sit and relax.

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Renovations Complete … and a Video!

Well, after almost a year of hard but satisfying work, Chez Mirabel is now fully renovated and ready to be enjoyed! Dory spent much of the summer in residence overseeing the work, and the results greatly surpass what we thought were lofty expectations. Martha & I will be spending November there and will come back with a complete photo gallery of the results. In the meantime, the Kanters’ friend, Bob Cantor, has kindly produced a video which should give you a good feel for this wonderful abode: Video Tour.

And the completion of the renovations means that we are finally ready to have others join us as owners of this exceptional property! And here are the details:

  • Price: $79,000 for 1/10 share (5 weeks/year)
  • Annual Costs: $1900/share (estimated reserve and operating costs, including housekeeping)
  • Shares available: Six (6) available for purchase on November 1, 2012 (available for use during calendar year 2013)
  • Summary of ownership structure & usage allocation: Ownership & Usage Summary

Please contact us (e.g., through the above “Contact” menu) with questions or requests for more information.  – Rick

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Les petits visiteurs

Felix and Arianne stop by our front door to say “bonjour”.

Life on the Impasse des Fleurs in the summertime is lively! Everyone has a table and chairs set out by their front doors for coffee and croissants in the morning and dinner in the evening. Our neighbors on the Impasse enjoy relaxed summer al fresco dining with BBQ grills and toujours bottles of local wine. Children are out of school now and amble about freely on the Impasse with no cars or traffic to worry about.  Two of my favorite little friends are Felix and Arianne from Paris, here visiting their grandparents who live around the corner. Each morning and afternoon, they come by to chat. Sometimes they come over in their pajamas to have breakfast of  “pain grillé avec confiture et beurre” when their parents aren’t yet awake. They are irresistible! We made this little video one afternoon. –Dory

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Progress update – closets, bed, bookshelves and alcove tile

Front door to our house on the Impasse des Fleurs

This week carpenter Laurent Bonnet and assistant Hugo made wonderful progress. They installed a custom-made Queen size bed in the room that faces the Impasse.  The wood Laurent used for the bed is “tilleul” – linden or lime tree in English.  It is light- colored, clear- grained and a beautiful choice. I complimented him yesterday on the wood and today he arrived with a branch from the tilleul tree for me!  Tilleul herbal tea is favored for its calming properties – how very appropriate for a bedroom.

Hand-crafted bed made of tilleul (linden tree) wood for the back bedroom.

They installed shelves and hanging rods in the master and middle bedroom closets.  Built-in bookshelves were installed in the fireplace room as well!

On another front, Max and Thomas demolished the stairs to the terrace level in preparation for the installation of the new stairwell next week.  We transported all the geraniums on the terrace to the front entry because I won’t be able to reach the terrace for a few days for lack of stairs. Happily, the weather here is consistently sunny and gorgeous with daily watering is a necessity.


New tiles grace the alcove on the bedroom level. Its such fun to finally place the furniture in this wonderful “extra” space — perfect for reading, computing, playing games or the occassional extra house guest.


Bookshelves built into the fireplace room — a cozy place to read and relax in the wintertime.

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Théâtre de Plein Air

Just when I think I’ve discovered all the joys and pleasures this wonderful village has to offer, I discover something new. Last night I went to a glorious piano and cello concert at the Centre Artistique de Piégon – just a hop, skip and jump away from Mirabel. Indeed my favorite daily walk is to Piégon, just 2 km (1.2 miles) away.  This was the first time I’d been to the Centre and I was delighted to discover it. The beautiful large home housing the Centre looks out from a hilltop over the stunning Piegon/Mirabel countryside. How could you improve on a stage made from the stone walls of the ramparts of an ancient castle?  We sat on chairs on the grass while the sun set behind us and, later, the stars shone above.  Thoughtfully, the Centre provides blankets to keep you warm as the evening cooled down after the sun set.

The beautiful setting for the Centre Artistique de Piegon. The concert was held underneath the tower on the right side of the photo.

The musicians were Sylvie Jacquemin (piano) and Armin Riffel (cello).  Their program was rich and full; they offered exquisite, seldom-played works by composers I was familiar with and one I was not. I particularly enjoyed the 3 Chansons sans Paroles by the German/Israeli composer, Ben-Haïm (Paul Frankenburger), a composer whose works I want to learn more about.  After the concert, we were served aperatif (wine, juice and canapés) on the spacious terrace beside the house, overlooking the valley below.  The evening was magical. The Centre offers concerts, classes and lectures year-round and is a rich resource I’m sure we’ll return to often. How lucky we are to have found this corner of the world! –Dory

View of the stage and  chairs for the audience before the concert began. We arrived early so we could walk around the grounds before the concert and absorb the beauty of this special place.

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Sunflower day

I truly feel like I’ve found my piece of heaven here in Mirabel. As the weeks pass while I am here overseeing the renovations on the house, I get to taste the marvelous array of delicious fruits and vegetables that come into season and suddenly appear in our excellent epicerie. The fields outside of the village burst into color with each new flowering crop.  Mirabel friend, Sue, and I share a a passion for les fleurs. Yesterday we decided to take a drive to see the sunflowers in blooming now. We drove towards Avignon and quickly found a big yellow field along the road.  To get closer, we took the next turn onto a tiny one lane dirt road, revealing a lovely chateau, nestled in a grove of trees. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful! We had fun taking photos amongst the sunflowers dancing in the wind. It was a beautiful day here in Provence.  –Dory

We found this pretty chateau along the country lane  on our way to the sunflower field.


Look at those big fluffy clouds!

Sunflowers dance in the breeze.

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Lavender day

This week Mirabel friends,, Olivier and Sue, took me to see the lavender fields in full bloom. It was glorious! These fields are located on a lovely small road just outside of Vinsobres, 5 km away. We spent hours meandering through row after row of perfect purple blossoms, drinking in the fresh lavender scent. Legions of bees buzzed among the flowers while cicadas sang their distinctive song from trees nearby. It was amazing to see how the lavender thrives in the very rocky soil. A memorable morning outing! We couldn’t resist taking picture after picture. Here are a few to give you an idea. –Dory


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