The idea of Provence conjures up either the image of an idyllic lost in lavender fields oasis possessing overwhelming rustic beauty, or an unfortunate ravaged tourist spot packed with goads of aimless camera hounds crowding its narrow antique streets.

Fortunately, we experienced more of the former and less of the latter during our stay in the hilltop village of Goult.  The middle of September proved to be an ideal time to visit Provence, as tourists were starting to fade, or at least take the shape of the more mature, slowed and retired crowd.

Goult had all the makings of a quaint, picturesque, yet still working class village.  Yes, the cafes and outdoor restaurant seating were generally full, and the beer loving crowd descended upon Cafe de la Poste like lazy gulls each evening that the cafe opened (we learned that opening days and times in France are never regular).

But the bakery, with its baskets of fresh bready goodness and rows of flakey buttery pastries, opened early in the mornings (though on odd days) at times a hung-over crowd would have never made.  The lovely bakery owner greeted long-time customers by name and only gave a quiet smirk when we asked for the “champagne” loaf (campagne or country bread).

A bit further up the road, the properly moustached butcher in what can only be described as a crisp butcher outfit, manned his store, that displayed no meat, with enthusiastic confidence.

Luckily, our French native on hand, Lolo, quickly cleared up how to properly order meat at the boucherie – by choosing from the posted list and then, for us less educated, kindly asking the butcher to point to the cut on the cow map.  Voila!  Meat fetched from the refrigerated locker behind, to be cut on the spot in front.

And even though we never found the candlestick maker (or never looked, really), Provence’s subtle and hidden charm more than sufficed to make for a simply perfect stay.