Friends often ask me “how do you spend your day as an expat in Uzes? Since you’ve asked, here’s an example of one day this week.
I started the day with café crème and a treat, pain au chocolate, at a local cafe with friends. We were all heading for French class at l’Université Populaire. Yes, I’m going to give French another try and this time I’m going to succeed! My friends gingerly persuaded me that I needed to go with them — not just because I need to speak the language, but especially because they needed another person to sign up so they could hold the class. A little hot coffee, a tin of sweet biscuits and a fabulous teacher — Claudine — made the lesson go much faster than I expected. And more fun!
Morning French Class and Brocante
The Université Populaire is only a few steps away from my favorite brocante store, so who could resist? I stopped in and spent a few minutes looking around. Then I dropped a few euros to buy a small piece of furniture for my apartment — a carved chest. How do you like it? (photo below). It’ll be perfect to store things in my bedroom. I’ll add a couple of square pillows for seats. I’m still trying to decide if I can live without the headboards you see below. For the guest room… hmmm.
While shopping I sighted a tapestry rolled up on a chair near the front door of the store. I immediately thought of my friends Paula and Rich. They’ve been looking for something “medieval”to decorate their apartment. I called them and suggested they come down to see the tapestry.
Lunch at the Place aux Herbes
Before I continue talking about my day in Uzes, let me introduce you to Paula and Rich. They are friends from California that I met a couple of years ago. I’ve mentioned them in several previous posts and on Facebook. Now they’re my apartment neighbours and “partners in crime.” They love to “go and do” as much as I do. Rich and I are taking French lessons together. Paula’s pretty proficient at her new language. You’ll hear a lot about them in future posts, I’m sure.
Paula and Rich joined me at the brocante. They loved the tapestry! On the way back to the apartment we stopped at a restaurant in the Place aux Herbes for lunch and to people-watch. A favourite pastime during tourist season.
Neighborhood Repas (Pot Luck)
Nowadays, I often take a nap in the afternoon. The temperature in the south of France is warm — in the high 80’s — and it’s a bit humid. (Compared to Atlanta? NOT!) Things pretty much shut down in Uzes and so do I. This day, after my nap, I had a chore to do. I had picked up some fresh pineapple, melons and cherries from the market in front of Université Populaire and I needed to prepare a fruit bowl to take to a neighborhood party. Everyone in our apartment building was invited for “repas” — a pot luck dinner — and we were meeting on the rooftop terrace at around 7pm.
Here’s something I’ve learned about entertaining in France. If you’re invited to someone’s home for “apero” the hosts serve drinks and some type of simple food — a small bowl of nuts, chips or pretzels and perhaps a canapé — like tapenade on a toast crouton. Apero last for only an hour. Afterwards you might go together for dinner. If you’re invited for “repas” you can expect a light meal along with drinks. For a neighbourhood gathering the guests bring food to share.
A dish that some of my French friends bring for repas is chilled, creamed vegetable or fruit “soup.” For our neighbour’s gathering, there were two kinds of cold soups — avocado and beetroot. Both were presented in small bowls. The avocado soup was lightly flavoured with lemon, garlic and herbs. The beetroot soup had diced beets and walnuts on top of the slightly garlic-y, creamed base and a hint of herbs. They were both divine!
Oh.. by the way … never think about using beets from a can around here. It’s a travesty!
Along with our delicious spread of food and good neighbours who have different levels of French and English language proficiency, it was a clear, beautiful evening. Up above the rooftops of Uzes we had quite a view
I love this place!