ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The ancient village of Oppede la Vieux

This is my final post about our August trip to Provence, France. I am cutting and folding hand-dyed fabric at this moment. This week I received the x-ray results on my left knee. They show severe osteoarthritis, and that my cartilage has deteriorated so much that my joint is almost bone on bone. As well, there are loose bodies floating in my knee, so that explains the pain I've been feeling. I am once again being referred to a surgeon (the waiting times here are very long), and have started physiotherapy. I was not expecting this diagnosis. Only a few weeks ago I was climbing a step ladder to paint my studio, and a few weeks prior to that doing the same in our guest bedroom. No it wasn't easy, but the fact that I was able to do it, did not lead me to suspect such a severe diagnosis. I had been managing very well with my knees for the past three years since my major flare-up 3-1/2 years ago. I had been under the impression that my arthritis was only severe under my kneecaps. So we will see how things progress in the next weeks and months. I can still teach if I have a chair on wheels. Things may settle down shortly, but the writing is on the wall that I will need some sort of treatment soon.
There are two villages named Oppede in Provence. One refers to a relatively young and modern village. When you see "la Vieux" tagged on the name "Oppede" it means old or ancient. Our bed and breakfast during our second week was only a few kilometers from both the new and the ancient Oppede. 

Oppede la Vieux (the ancient one) is a beautiful and largely abandoned village that has fallen into ruin. However, there are signs of restoration everywhere and many people are buying up property there. You can't drive to this village unless you live there. You have to park in a lot a km or two away, and walk through fields and forest and up hill to access it (and yes I did the walk and climb!). There are a couple of cafes there,

Walking through the forest and up stairs to access the castle and cathedral.

The cathedral is situated on a windy hilltop with fantastic views of the countryside.

Heading back down from the cathedral and castle.

Village streets are quiet, often steep, and hauntingly beautiful.

A pink rose near a pink wall.

Why are so many Provencal villages situated on hilltops? Because turmoil raged for centuries when this region won and lost in warms. A hilltop setting enabled the inhabitants to see invaders approaching

Soon I'll be on my way to New Brunswick!


  1. Like you I am shocked with your knee diagnosis. One thing you might try and it is a long term thing is a gluten free diet. Sometimes arthritis is our immune system trying to speak to us about our eating habits. It will not fix your knee but may give you some relief and buy you some time until you need to do something drastic. Just a thought.

    Your trip to France is on my bucket list and I have love hearing about it and seeing your pics. It would be my hope to be there at the peak of their lavender and sunflower season.

    All the best, Jackie McKenzie

    1. Thank you Jackie. I hope you get to go for your bucket list trip in peak lavender and sunflower season :-) My understanding is that rheumatoid arthritis is more related to the immune system, while osteoarthritis is a "wear and tear" arthritis, makes it a more "mechanical" issue, where the cartilage in the joints has disintegrated and there is wear and tear on the joint.Certainly a diet that reduces weight would be of benefit to me as it would reduce the strain on my knees.

  2. Two beautiful posts Elaine and glorious photos! What a wonderful time you had!!! but?.. What nasty news about your knees! I am soo sorry and DO hope the NB trip goes reasonably easily for you. Hope they really help you out with carrying and moving things AND that you DO get a rolly chair! Take care of yourself.

  3. Thank you Carolynn :-) We did indeed have a wonderful time, oblivious to the knee issue to soon come!


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