Retired UN official, now professor at a university in Belgium and consultant on cultural heritage management. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, went to universities in Paris, Geneva, Washington DC and London, then worked as a journalist in Bangkok before joining the UN. My late-husband was a French journalist and our two grown-up kids work in London and in Paris, one as creative director and the other as a corporate lawyer. I am now based in Paris, but spend several months a year outside of France. My new 'job'since 2014 as grandmother of a grandson in London and a grand-daughter in Reims keeps me away from the Provence more & more...
Minja Yang-Paringaux purchased this estate in 2004
For a 'big city girl' like me, I would never have imagined that I would retire in a hamlet in the Luberon Hills in the Provence! My late husband and I decided in 2 seconds to buy this walled hamlet in total ruin with two tiny extant huts without toilet or electricity but with amazing views! We sold our chic 17th century mansion in the village of Bonnieux which we bought in 1998 as a therapy against my work stress and for my intello husband to read and write in retirement. But when we found this hamlet in ruin, hidden under 1 metre-thick ivy, we were hit by an irresistible urge to bring it back to life as a family home. Dry-stone walls, traces of mulberry production for silk, vaulted caves...Ofcourse, romantic ideas soon turned into blood-letting manual labour! Neither of us imagined the colossal work involved in reconstructing the ruin, not to mention the cost... a mad but wonderful project! Sadly, my husband passed away before seeing his grandkids play amidst the vineyards and olive groves, but our dream of building a hut for each of our two kids and a treehouse in the woods for our grandkids is almost realized and shall be pursued! Despite the many wonderful places my job has allowed me to visit, the Luberon is special, offering the changing colors of the sky, therapeutic landscape, songs of cigales (crickets?), cool breeze tempering the summer heat, good simple food and wine, world renown cultural festivals of theatre in Avignon, music in Aix-en-Provence, piano in Roche d'Antheron, photos in Arles, bull-fighting (ugh) in Arles, Nimes and the villages of the Camargue, pottery & painting workshops, and many more for the athletes (that I am not!)…all in less than 3 hours from Paris. I hope the vacation rentals will enable us to finance the exorbitant taxes, utilities bills and basic maintenance of this hamlet where the garden intentionally remains a 'scrubland' (garrigue), rather than the immaculately trimmed French garden alien to this region.
Dry stone walls, vaulted caves, view of the 'borie' (round stone hut) and landscape of vineyards, olive and cherry trees in the foreground with the deep ridges of the Luberon Hills to the south and the Ventoux Mountain peak to the north; but also the benefit of picking the neighbour's grapes and cherries when mine runs out…and brushing my teeth watching the sunrise from my bathroom window, having a drink and playing 'boule' while watching the sun-set, stretching out on the long sofa in the vast living room to read detective novels, pretending to be an 'artist' in my 'greenhouse-studio'; going to outdoor markets in the villages to buy fruits and vegetables; being tempted by the cakes and tartes of the village bakeries…having lunch or dinner in the many gourmet 'slow-food' restaurants of the Luberon villages… finding amazing things in the vide-grenier (garage sales?), but mainly the joy of having a beautiful and spacious house to write my articles and preparing my speeches, and the fun of changing the decor of the rooms with my huge collection of hand-woven textiles found in the countries of Asia, Africa and a few from Latin Americ, kilim rugs from Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey…and the pleasure of receiving friends for long weekends… Les Gardiols and the region offer many cultural and sportive activities but my favourite pass-time is just to stay at home to enjoy the house, the garden and the view with my loved ones. There is an outdoor pool lined with olive trees.