Tag: cafes

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls Loving Italy” Day 14-15: Rome

A visit to Rome is too overwhelming to be consumed in only a few days. It would take weeks to appreciate the breadth and depth of the city.

Like Florence, The Golden Girls were in Rome for a holiday, not a history tour. Besides, this was my fourth visit to Rome. Instead of rushing around, we concentrated on Vatican City. A visit to the Sistine Chapel was one of the Golden Girl’s objectives for traveling to Italy.

For two days, we stayed, ate and wandered around the Vatican City area. Except for going onto the papal grounds, we were mostly away from tourists. Which translates to: ‘No one spoke English.” .

We were lost most of the time, wandering around aimlessly look for a bus, a cab… the way back to the AIRBNB apartment.

Thanks to Map quest, we were OK … when and if we could get online.

Visit Rome

One thing we learned over the two days is that Romans are very considerate and helpful … except for the cabby who drove us to the Airbnb our first night in town. A ride that should have cost no more than 25 euros cost almost 70 euros.
Visit Rome

 

Ok. Give us a break. We’d just arrived by train after a full day in Cinque Terra. And it was after midnight. We were exhausted.

 

 

 

Visit Rome

 Hint #1: Don’t take a “gypsy cab”. Make certain there’s a meter in the car.

The friendly Romans were happy to help three struggling American females.

Visit RomeWe met them at the bus stop when we needed directions on using the transportation systems.

They were there for us on buses to wave us off at the right stop.

 

 

 

Cafe owners stopped in the middle of their busy morning to give us advice on getting around.

Hint #2: If you need help, ask. You will meet some charming folks.

Visit Rome

Visit Rome

People Watching at Vatican City

One Golden Girl wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. The huge crowds that were gathered in lines to visit the Chapel were enough to convince me that two visits to the Chapel were enough for a lifetime. When I learned the ceiling art had been restored and the restoration was finished, I was happy to wait in line. Seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in its full glory was a whole new experience.

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Dividing light from Darkness – Sistine Chapel

Get Happy, Rome

What I particularly enjoyed that day at the Vatican City was watch people. While looking through my photos of Rome, I realized I had captured with the camera a contrast of “happy” and “not”. The video was lots of fun to make, although apologies to those I might have caught having bad moment.

Next stop: Nova Sira, Italy

Visit Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 13 Cinque Terre

Who knew “Cinque Terre” meant “five villages”? Before  heading on The Golden Girls’ adventure, I’d never heard of it.

The Golden Girls’ Cinque Terre visit started on a chartered bus from Florence. Our AIRBNB host set up the tour that was by bus, train and boat.

Since visiting Cinque Terre, I’ve learned that many friends have been there. Some have even gone between each of the villages on foot.

My hat’s off to you. We found it hard enough to be carried by bus and train.

Visit Cinque Terre

Tour bus to Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque Terre

The day we visited Cinque Terre, unfortunately, there was bad weather. A landslide in one of the villages and no ships sailing to another meant we had a full day exploring three of the villages — Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Monterossa.

Visit Cinque Terre

Map of Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore

After leaving the chartered bus in La Spezia, The Golden Girls boarded a train for Riomaggiore. Getting there on a foggy, cool day was a bit disappointing. We were hoping for sunny skies. However, the beauty of the quaint hillside village more than made up for the clouds and sprinkles of rain.

Visit Cinque Terre

Corniglia

By the time we reached Corniglia by train the clouds had lifted and the sun came out to give us an excuse to head for the beach. This was the ideal village for lounging at a seaside cafe and watching people, my favorite pastime.

Visit Cinque TerreAhh… the beer was tasty too!

Visit Cinque Terre

 Village and sea views in all directions were breath-taking.

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Visit Cinque Terre

Monterossa

Nothing prepared me for Monterossa. From the multi-colored houses to the dramatic coastal cliffs, this village is one to underline in the memory book. Interestingly, now that I have only photos to remind me, it’s hard to believe these came out of my camera. It is truly real.

Pinch me.

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Dare I forget about shopping?

Not as dazzling as the scenery in Monterossa, the local shops still put on quite a show.

How can you resist stopping to check out the retail here? Join me to look around.

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Hopefully when you visit Cinque Terre you will see all five villages. For me and The Golden Girls, perhaps another day.

Visit Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque TerreNext stop: Rome

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

Revisit the seaside towns of Port Vendres and Collioure, France with me and my North Carolina friends. You may want to put these two on your “must see” list!

When “The Golden Girls” discovered Port Vendres and Collioure, the quaint towns along the Mediterranean, it was quite by accident. We were looking for an airport near Sete that had cheap flights to Italy.  With a little research, we found that the airport in Girona, Spain was only a little over an hour’s drive from Sete. It was not far from the coast, so we could drive along the Med and, hopefully, find a seaside town where we could stop overnight before taking a flight to Italy.

Collioure jumped off the map as the perfect place. The tiny village is the picture-book image of what you’d expect in this part of the world. There was only one problem: Collioure had “no room at the inn.”

Apparently Europeans know Collioure. It was packed with tourists. Not to be discouraged, we settled for the next best thing: Port Vendres, the town just a bit farther down the coast.

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Port Vendres

We arrived in Port Vendres in the late afternoon. Having driven south from Sete, staying mostly on the “super” highway until we turned east at Perpignan.  The first town we ran into on the Mediterranean was Canet-en-Roussillon. We stopped for lunch in a Spanish restaurant, Vigatane, then pointed Sally south along the sea toward Port Vendres.

Here’s our view from the car as we went away from the restaurant and drove towards Collioure and Port Vendres.

Tired and anxious to get out of the car for the day, we passed through Collioure, then came to Port Vendres and parked Sally in the town square. Just minutes after calling our AirBNB host, to tell her we were in town, Anna appeared at our car

Anna is a tall, blonde and fair-complexioned woman of Scandinavian ancestry. She spends time between her apartment in Port Vendres and a home in the Pyrenees. To welcome us to Port Vendres, she personally guided us around the small business area showing us her favorite restaurants and wine merchant.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Wine merchant in Port Vendres

Afterwards, we set out for a night on the town.

Returning to our Airbnb “loft” to relax and sleep, we were there just in time to catch sight of the most glorious rainbow — surely a good omen for the next part of our adventure.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Rainbow photo by Arlene Wouters

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Collioure

We had a full day planned in Collioure, so we started out early in the morning, giving ourselves just enough time to grab a cafe latte and croissant, and to check out the Saturday Market in Port Vendres.

Backtracking, we arrived in Collioure and parked Mustang Sally at a hilltop rest stop. When we got out of the car, we realized the “rest stop” was, indeed, the parking lot for a restaurant. We went into the restaurant, which was busy with staff preparing for lunch, and assured them we would return later for a meal–not just take a free parking spot.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Mustang Sally looking over Collioure

From here we were able to walk through most of the town, wade in the surf, and do a bit of shopping.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Seaside dining

Thinking the day couldn’t get any better, we headed back towards the restaurant on the hill. Oh my! What a treat. Port Vendres and Collioure, FranceThe entrance to the restaurant was near the top of the hill; but the service area was down a narrow, stone stairway that led to the sea. When we reached where tables were set, we literally stepped onto a yacht, or what appeared to be one because of the shape of the deck. From our table made us feel like we had set sail on a calm sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

The food? It was heavenly.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Mixed seafood- Collioure

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Tuna Collioure

And the wait staff? Well, one Golden Girl thought he was HOT. You judge for yourself.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

We told him he could drive Mustang Sally if we could adopt him.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Visiting Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Musee Collioure. The artist is in the house. Our lunch was long and leisurely with us all agreeing we are the “luckiest people in the world”. Still we had time to wander into the town’s art museum. The small space handsomely displayed a collection of French artists such as Claude Viallat , Joan Brossa , Dominique Gauthier, Henri Marre, Matisse, and Jean Peské.

Port Vendres and Collioure, France

Francois Bernadi

Our good fortune was that one of the area’s well-known artists, Francois Bernadi, was working in the museum that day. We introduced ourselves and he seemed as thrilled to meet us as we were to meet him. His exhibit, which spanned his career since 1945, had just been taken down to make room for the new show, but we did purchase posters which he proudly autographed with a personal message.

View at the top We had a flight to catch from the Girona airport, which was less than an hour away. Before leaving Collioure we drove to the highest spot in town. From top to bottom, high and low, this is a town that should be on every tour map. Love, love!

Photos: A big “thanks” to the Golden Girls for contributing some of the fab photos for this blog. We wanted to show you the best of the best! Next stop: Pisa, Italy

Next on the Golden Girls’ Tour: Pisa!

Port Vendres and Colliure, France

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Golden Girls on the Mediterranean side of France

Side trips from Uzes are now behind us. It’s time for the Golden Girls to hit the super highway and head for the Mediterranean coast of France.

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean Side of France: Sete

The Venice of France
I couldn’t wait to show off Sete to my friends from North Carolina. After a week’s stay last year, I knew my beach-loving travel companions would like the place. Not only is the city itself of interest because of the canals, architecture, and fabulous seafood, also, the beaches outside the city are magnificent. We envisioned at least one full day in the sun being pampered by handsome waiters as we sunned ourselves at a private beach club.

Only one problem. Our days in Sete turned out to be cold and rainy.

Mediterranean side of France

Sete, France

Mediterranean side of France

Oh well, not to be disappointed because of the weather, we found plenty to do exploring Sete’s indoor market and nearby towns along the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

 

The Mediterranean Side of France: Bezier

Bezier is one of the oldest cities in France, tracing back to 535 BC. Only a few kilometers from the coast, Beziers was a Roman stronghold along the trade route from Provence to the Iberian Peninsula. It was the scene of a bloody massacre in the 13th century when Cathars, considered a heretic group by Catholics, were murdered — along with all other residents of the town– in a two hour battle. The leader of the crusade, when asked “how the warriors could tell Cathars from Catholics,” reportedly answered: “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” or “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

Today Beziers is well known for the “Feria”, a 5-day bullfighting festival that draws over a million spectators each year to the town’s ancient arena. Gothic architecture and stately English gardens, also, lure visitors to step back into the past.

Mediterranean side of France

Beziers, France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean side of France: Bouziques

Bouzigues, a beachside town beside the L’Etang de Thau is well known for its fresh seafood– especially oysters

Mediterranean side of France

Bouzigues, France

From the narrow street that runs through Bouzigues, you can see miles of oyster beds that stretch into the Mediterranean .

Oysters in L’Etang de Thau are grown on posts designed specifically for maximizing the crop yield.

 

Mediterranean side of France

Another attraction in Bouziques is the many seaside restaurants. On a rainy day, however, most were closed for afternoon business.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

The Mediterranean side of France: Getting There

Mustang Sally is the red 1996 Ford Mustang I’ve been blessed to drive in France. She belongs to my dear friend, Geoffrey, who has been the star character in many of my blog posts.

When I first arrived to set up my new life in France, Geoffrey made an offer I couldn’t refuse. We arrived at a lease agreement for the red car with black racing stripes. Now Mustang Sally is living in the underground car park near my apartment. She’s raring to go at a moment’s notice.

The trip down to Sete was no exception. Packed to the brim with suitcases, bags and hats, Sally proudly provided more than transportation down the super highway and scenic roads for my Carolina guests, she was our “touch of class.” I mean, how else would passerbys know The Golden Girls were around? She stood as a beacon wherever we landed.

Mediterranean side of France

Along the highways she hit the 120 KPH speed limit with no hesitation. It was at the many toll booths along the way that she showed her one malady. The driver side window is stuck closed.

After one or two stops, my travel companions and I had the tollbooth routine down flat. Sally would roll up to the gate while I was unbuckling my seatbelt; the front seat passenger would ready the change for the toll; I’d stretch as far as my arms and legs would reach to insert a ticket into the machine to add up the fare; I’d feed the fare into the meter; slam the door; buckle the seatbelt; and we’d speed off before the car behind us could blow its horn in total frustration.

This scenario repeated for most of the two-hour drive to Sete. We went the quickest route, rather than drive on the back roads. Likewise, the stops at Beziers and Bouziques were easy turns-offs from the super highway.

The Mediterranean side of France: Where to stay in Sete

One of my favorite things about the visit to Sete was the Airbnb apartment. Right in the center of town, facing the main canal, the location would please my friends, I was certain. Yes, they were thrilled with the apartment with two private bedrooms and an amazing view, as I suspected. They clicked immediately with our host, Nancy, and soon we were feeling right at home.

Mediterranean side of France

To view the Airbnb listing, click here.

The Mediterranean side of France: What to eat in Sete

There’s only one good answer for what to eat in Sete: seafood! One of the most “productive” fishing areas on the Mediterranean, the town is particularly well known for oysters, sardines and tuna. Restaurants line the streets along the harbor and they seem to serve similar dishes.

Grabbing a plate of raw oysters at the city market, along with a glass of wine or beer, is a treat I was determined to give myself.

Mediterranean side of France

The idea of “raw” didn’t go so well with the other Golden Girls, but they did taste “tielle” which is a local delicacy– octopus pie.

Mediterranean side of France

Another specialty from Sete is fish soup. It is a tomato-based, heavy fish broth served in bowls like chowder.

Mediterranean side of France

The best part of the soup is the croutons that float on top. But before you set the croutons off to sail, you smother the crunchy bits of toast with garlicky aioli, and cover them with flaky Parmesan cheese.

Fish soup from Sete can be purchased online from sites like Bien Manger (click here)

Mediterranean side of France

Helpful hint: Wherever you go

When driving in an unfamiliar place, especially if you don’t know the language, be sure to take note of where you park. It’s easy to get lost if you’re as absent-minded as I am! To insure you get back to the right place, take pictures of your parking spot and direction signs along the way.

Mediterranean side of France

Mediterranean side of France

Next stop: Port Vendres and Collioure

Mediterranean side of France

Click here for more about the Golden Girls’ Tour of France and Italy

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

Tracing the history of the Romans in the south of France is a fascination I am anxious to share with visitors.

Guests visiting from North Carolina were more than happy to take the short ride from Uzès to Nimes to attend the Roman Days extravaganza at the Arena. Even though the event was narrated only in French, we were able to understand the storyline. The anniversary of Augustus Caesar’s death was being celebrated by a reenactment of important events during his life.

On top of it being a beautifully sunny day in Nimes, the opportunity to step back into a time, nearly 2000 years ago, was extraordinary. It was particularly interesting to see the costumed actors roaming through the city before the event. (For more about Roman Days, click here to see the earlier posting.)

Roman Days in Nimes

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

 

 

 

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

 

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France: Pont du Gard

Tracing the Romans in France must include a visit to Pont du Gard.
Even though I’ve been to Pont du Gard four times, there’s no better place to take visitors who come to Uzes. The aqueduct that supplied water to the Romans in Nimes as early as 1AD is still a marvel to behold. Every time I round the bend along the walkway in the World Heritage park and see the magnificent structure, I get chills. Visiting during different times times of year makes it new each time to me.

The Romans in the south of France

The Romans in the south of France

School children at the highest point viewing Pont du Gard put this Golden Girl in her element.

The Romans in the south of France

Avignon, City of Popes.

An afternoon in Avignon is hardly enough time to get a fair impression of the historic city, much less to write a post. For the Golden Girls, it was a beautiful and convenient place to stop for dinner.

The Roman connection in Avignon is difficult to follow because most of the Roman ruins have disappeared. However, the Pope’s Palace, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed “Palais des Papes” reminds us that Avignon was once the center of the Roman Catholic world. It is a place that is definitely worth spending time to explore. The Palais des Papes was the residence of seven successive popes in the 14th century. Avignon’s control by the Papacy ended in 1791 when the city was claimed by France during the French Revolution.

I shall definitely research Avignon and write more later. Until then, enjoy the photos of our quick visit.

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

Romans in the South of France

How to get there
From Uzes to Pont du Gard is a 30- minute car ride. Buses run regularly to the park area from the station in the center of Uzes, as well. To travel to Avignon, it is another 30 minute ride or drive.

Where to eat
The park at Pont du Gard is very well equipped with cafeteria-type restaurants and snack shops. The park itself is perfect for hiking and for finding places to stop for a picnic lunch.

In Avignon we had a quick meal before returning back to Uzes that night. Nothing to brag about.

Next: Sete to Collioure. Picture book towns along the Mediterranean

Romans in the South of France

Golden Girls’ Tour of France and Italy

Movie Night in Uzes: Il Trovatore

If you’ve  attended an HD production of the Metropolitan Opera in your local theatre, you know how good it is. You have the best seats possible to hear and see the performance without paying the big bucks to be in Lincoln Center. If you live in, or are visiting another country when there’s an HD opera production, there’s another dimension to the experience.

This weekend “Il Trovatore” played at the Cinema in Uzes. It was the second opera I’ve seen here. Last year, when mon fils was visiting, we saw “Carmen.” I missed him!

il trovadore

 

Anna Netrebko, the heroine Leonora who sacrifices her life for the love of the troubadour, was superb, as was Yonghoon Lee who played the role of Manrico.

2015-10-05_14-22-57But it was Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna who won our hearts. Prior to the beginning of the Met season, Hvorostovsky announced he had a brain tumor. He was never expected to perform again. Despite the seriousness of his illness, he was there, on stage, for a most magnificent portrayal of the Count. The closeups of his face, which cameras the HD audience captured, were able to show he knew millions of viewers were watching. For a few seconds he seemed to step out of his role to acknowledge the loud applause from the live viewers at the Met. You didn’t have to be there in person to feel the love and admiration.

The other dimension

The night’s experience for those attending in New York may have been wonderful, however, it couldn’t have been as interesting as in Uzes. The funky, retro cinema was packed with enthusiastic opera lovers and lots of champagne!

 

IMG_7385

It is France! 

Like last year, it seemed a bit bizarre.  An Italian opera, performed live in New York, broadcast live at a cinema in Uzes — with French subtitles —

Serving sushi!

Sushi at the Cinema in Uzes

Sushi at the Cinema in Uzes

 

Here’s a review of last year’s performance of “Carmen” and more views of the Uzes movie house.

femk14_15_900x900carmen_500x500

The opera and cast of Carmen

When last I heard music from “Carmen” I was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Carolina Master Choral of the Grand Strand, as a fund-raiser, hosted a professional opera singer who performed a few of the most famous arias.

This “live” version of “Carmen,”  in HD from the Met,  was broadcast in the only cinema in Uzes. As I watched the performance, I was remembering Myrtle Beach and other times in my life when I’ve heard the music from “Carmen.” I also thought of the millions of people all over the world who were attending the HD event along with me at their local theaters. Isn’t technology amazing!??

People who have seen an HD version of the Met operas have said how wonderful it is. Now that I’ve been to one myself, I have to agree. It’s the next best thing to sitting in Lincoln Center.

 

The Cinema in Uzes

The only theater in Uzes is on a narrow street that runs into the main “rue” of town. From the outside the building looks like a theater straight out of a Woody Allen film.

Cinema in Uzes, France

Cinema in Uzes, France

 

The inside isn’t much different.

 Except at this cinema, there are “do-it-yourself” popcorn machines and bizarre candy machine.

Popcorn maker for "vanilla" flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for "salted" popcorn.

Popcorn maker for “vanilla” flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for “salted” popcorn.

 

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

 

Most interesting is that you can order a meal that is served during intermission.

 

Cinema - goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

Cinema – goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

 

The menu

 

Cheese and fruit plate

Cheese and fruit plate

 

Serving up soup and salad

Serving up soup and salad

 

Wine, beer, champagne and other drinks of your liking, of course.

 

The cinema bar

The cinema bar

 

The Met performance of “Carmen” was a unique experience. Now that I know that meals and drink are available for most nightly theater shows, I know I’ll be back! If you’re in Uzes, the Cinema is definitely a place you should check out. There are several films with English subtitles each week. Or if you’re trying to learn French, going to a show with French subtitles is an interesting way to practice reading the language.

Love Carmen! Love the Cinema!

 

10502437_788415777896797_3058996173419804088_n

Hello Summer. It’s Music Time in Uzes!

What better way to welcome in summer in Uzes than with music?

It’s summer in Uzès and time for Fête de la Musique with music ranging from flamenco guitar to folk music, to rock. Stages set up on the street and plazas throughout the historic area were filled with hundreds of spectators taking in every precious moment.

My stage of choice was flamenco. New friends from Pittsburgh – fans of Barefoot Blogger! – invited me to join them for dinner at Ma Cantine, directly in front of the street stage.

The friendly owner of Ma Cantine, Thierry, welcomed all to squeeze around the tiny tables. Menu selections for the night were limited and reasonably priced. Along with his wife and the Liv Tyler-lookalike server, Thierry kept busy serving drinks to seated customers, as well as people standing in the crowd.

summer in Uzes

 

Down the street, more music in the Place aux Herbes, more bands.

 

rock bank

 

Of course, I was ready for a special night out.

A blue polka-dot dress, a petticoat

and red shoes with bows …

red shoes

... and it all ended with a perfect summer sky.

summer in Uzes

Uzès sky welcoming summer

 

 

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

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Somehow it seems strange to see a French opera, performed live in New York, broadcast live at a cinema in Uzes — with French subtitles.

It was truly a memorable event. Carmen and more. Not only was it the first time The Barefoot Blogger has seen the opera “Carmen” in full;  and the first time I’ve seen an HD performance by the Metropolitan femk14_15_900x900carmen_500x500Opera; but also, the first time I’ve attended a night-time cinema in Uzes.

 

The opera and cast

When last I heard music from “Carmen” I was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Carolina Master Choral of the Grand Strand, as a fund-raiser, hosted a professional opera singer who performed a few of the most famous arias.

This “live” version of “Carmen,”  in HD from the Met,  was broadcast in the only cinema in Uzes. As I watched the performance, I was remembering Myrtle Beach and other times in my life when I’ve heard the music from “Carmen.” I also thought of the millions of people all over the world who were attending the HD event along with me at their local theaters. Isn’t technology amazing!??

People who have seen an HD version of the Met operas have said how wonderful it is. Now that I’ve been to one myself, I have to agree. It’s the next best thing to sitting in Lincoln Center.

 

The Cinema in Uzes

The only theater in Uzes is on a narrow street that runs into the main “rue” of town. From the outside the building looks like a theater straight out of a Woody Allen film.

Cinema in Uzes, France

Cinema in Uzes, France

 

The inside isn’t much different.

 Except at this cinema, there are “do-it-yourself” popcorn machines and bizarre candy machine.

Popcorn maker for "vanilla" flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for "salted" popcorn.

Popcorn maker for “vanilla” flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for “salted” popcorn.

 

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

 

Most interesting is that you can order a meal that is served during intermission.

 

Cinema - goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

Cinema – goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

 

The menu

 

Cheese and fruit plate

Cheese and fruit plate

 

Serving up soup and salad

Serving up soup and salad

 

Wine, beer, champagne and other drinks of your liking, of course.

 

The cinema bar

The cinema bar

 

The Met performance of “Carmen” was a unique experience. Now that I know that meals and drink are available for most nightly theater shows, I know I’ll be back! If you’re in Uzes, the Cinema is definitely a place you should check out. There are several films with English subtitles each week. Or if you’re trying to learn French, going to a show with French subtitles is an interesting way to practice reading the language.

Love Carmen! Love the Cinema!

 

10502437_788415777896797_3058996173419804088_n

Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

No matter how many times I visit the villages near Uzes, I find something new and irresistible.

My destination was San Quentin la Poterie — the home of some of the most amazing potters in all of France.

This time, I did find a pottery shop I’ve never seen before …

….but it was a little out-of-the-way gift shop that was a real gem.

san quentin la poterie

L’Effet Reve in San Quentin de la Poterie

From the outside, the shop was quite unassuming. In fact, I almost passed it by. The promise of tea and pastries advertised in the window, however, drew me in.

At first glance, the store looked like so many you see in the States, filled with little nick nacks and kitchenware. It was not until I wandered into the rooms hidden in the back that I discovered the true treasures.

san quentin la poterie

Inside L’Effet Reve in San Quentin la Poterie

san quentin la poterie

Yes, this petite iron sofa would be perfect in my apartment! Oh drool!

san quentin la poterie

Too bad I was penny-pinching that day, or I would have fit it in the back trunk of my car, “Lucy.”

Beyond the little rooms and cubby holes in L’Effet Reve, was the pièce de résistance — a charming outdoor tea room…

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Outdoor tea room

… decorated to delightful perfection.

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Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

Little villages near Uzes

Sometimes the little places close to Uzes never make it to the tourist lists. Yet they can be the most charming places of all.

Here are more sights and scenes that make San Quentin la Poterie so much fun to visit.

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Little rooms that stretch over arched walkways

 

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Mosaics along the street in San Quentin de la Poterie

 

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Narrow, colorful walkways in San Quentin la Poterie

 

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Little ladies shelling and selling almonds along the street

 

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Art and artists everywhere

 

And pottery !!!

Hopefully you enjoyed this pictorial visit to San Quentin la Poterie. Be certain to put this little village on your “must see” when you visit the south of France.

Other views of the town are in several earlier posts. Just search “San Quentin la Poterie” on the “My Travels” page.

Oh… by the way… don’t try to beat me to it.  I’m calling tomorrow to see if the little sofa is still waiting for me!

san quentin la poterie

Saturday Market in Pezenas, France

Saturday Market in Pezenas, France
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One day last summer, while I was heading back to Uzes from Sete, I detoured from the home-bound route to visit Pezenas. I had heard the Saturday Market in Pezenas is one not to miss.

As you very well know, market day is my favorite time to see new places in France, Even though it meant leaving Sete early in the morning, I was anxious to get on my way. If you don’t get to a Saturday market by 10am,  it’s really hard to find a parking place.  Also, by 1pm the vendors are pretty much closing up.

It’s a short window of time to “go and do.”

Saturday Market in Uzes is a hard act to follow. Pezenas was going to have to be pretty special to get in the rankings.

Let’s just say, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Flowers and more in Pezenas' Saturday market

Flowers and more in Pezenas’ Saturday market

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One of the “most beautiful towns” in Languedoc

Pezenas, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in the Languedoc-Roussilon area of France, was once the political center of the États du Languedoc and the home of Parliament. The Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) stands on one of the main squares (Place Gambettat) which, on market day, is surrounded by shoppers and tourists.

Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) on Place Gambetta in Pezenas

Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) on Place Gambetta in Pezenas

moliere  Moliere in Pezenas

The French Ministry of Culture designated Pezenas a Protected Area (Secteur sauvegardé) because of its over 30 historical monuments, including a monument dedicated to the French playwright, Moliere.

Apparently Moliere spent only a few days in Pezenas where he put on several of his less important theater works. Nevertheless, the town honors his contributions to the arts in France. For me, I need to learn more about Moliere than I picked up from the movie “Mozart.” In the film, Moliere was depicted as far from a “nice guy.”

Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic

One of the more obvious monuments in the center of Pezenas is a fountain with the statue of Marianne — a familiar symbol of the French Republic. Marianne triumphantly holds the flag of France in her left hand and a bolt of lighting in her right hand. The lighting rod symbolizes human rights “Droits de l’Homme”.

Statue of Marianne in Pezenas

Statue of Marianne in Pezenas

She stands atop a column which is surrounded by cherubs riding dolphins. On the column is inscribed with the motto of France: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” The statue in the Cours Jean-Jaurès. was molded in 1880. The fountain was built in 1887.

"Marianne", a symbol of the French nation, standing in Pezenas

“Marianne”, a symbol of the French nation, standing in Pezenas

Architecture in Pezenas

During my short half-day stay in Pezenas, I was struck by the awesome architecture in the town. I understand most of the large building were hotels or homes. The French and other Europeans of long ago loved to stay or visit in Pezenas because of its beauty, culture and proximity to the Mediterranean.  Many of the town’s structures qualify for the  “Inventaire des Monuments Historiques” for their “porte à colonne et ponton” or “entrance with columns and carvings.”

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Doorway in Pezenas

Doorway in Pezenas

Pezenas doorway

Pezenas doorway

Mostly, I was blown away by the vaulted passageways. They are not uncommon in France, but here they seemed more colorful, friendly and inviting.

Street scene on market day in Pezenas

Street scene on market day in Pezenas

Passageway in Pezenas

Passageway in Pezenas

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Food and more

For a solo female traveler, one of the things I often judge about a place is how comfortable I feel having a meal alone.  In Pezenas, the scenery around the eateries — especially those in the city squares — is enough to keep you company. Here’s my view at lunchtime that day.

The Plat Du Jour

Plat du Jour in Pezenas

Plat du Jour in Pezenas – Gratin de Fruits de Mer

Jeweler in Pezenas

Jeweler in Pezenas

Later, after spending more time than I should visiting with the designer at a fabulous jewelry shop …

… here’s the view when I stopped for an afternoon refreshment.

 Pezenas is a MUST GO BACK TO! place. There’s so much more to see and do. Especially in the summertime. There are festivals galore. Stay tuned for more …

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Travel Diary for Foodies

Travel Diary for Foodies
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There’s no better way for a “foodie” to recap a year’s travel than to revisit meals and favorite foods devoured along the way.

Enjoy the journey!

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Christmas Market, Uzes

Chicken Stewing at Christmas Market, Uzes

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Meat Pies, London, England

Meat Pies, London, England

Fruit Tray for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fruit Tray for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Wine! France!

Wine! France!

Garlic! L'Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Garlic! L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Ham Biscuits for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Ham Biscuits for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Punch with Fruit Ring, "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Punch with Fruit Ring, “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

"Four Seasons" Pizza in Uzes, France

“Four Seasons” Pizza in Uzes, France

"Bouchon de Lyonaisse" Salad in Lyon, France

“Bouchon de Lyonaisse” Salad in Lyon, France

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists' Fete in Uzes, France

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists’ Fete in Uzes, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Brioche with Caramel Glace

Brioche with Caramel Glace in Lyon, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

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Lyon Day One: Hog Heaven

Lyon Day One: Hog Heaven

It didn’t take long for for Mon Fils (my son) and I to settle into our hotel and find a restaurant in Lyon that’s worth writing home about. We arrived by train at five in the afternoon and we were ordering “bouchon lyonnaise” style at the Bouchon de l’Opera by eight.

Lyon, France is famous for its bouchon restaurants. In the States we might call the fare “home cooking.” Many restaurants here offer the same type of “country” food, But the quality and flavor vary widely because of different family recipes.

Early bouchon gastronomes in Lyon were the silk merchants who frequented the downtown café. Now there are so many restaurants that serve bouchon there is a rating system to help differentiate the “authentic” from the “tourist-traps.”

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Since 1997, Pierre Grison and his organization, L’Association de défense des bouchons lyonnais (The Association for the Preservation of Lyonnais Bouchons), bestow annual certifications to restaurants as “authentic” bouchons. These restaurants receive the title Les Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnais and are identified with a sticker showing the marionette Gnafron, a Lyonnais symbol of the pleasures of dining, with a glass of wine in one hand and a napkin bearing the Lyon crest in the other.” (Wikipedia)

 

Bouchon de l’Opera 

Bouchon de l’Opera is a little restaurant with a big heart. Mon fils and I arrived without reservations so we were seated at one of the two small tables the owner’s wife designated as “unreserved.” Looking around after we sat down, it was obvious all the other settings were for groups of six or more. Soon the place was filled with couples and friends who seemed to know it well as a friendly stop after work.

Decorations in the homey cafe are vintage kitchenware with a big emphasis on “piggy” collectibles. 

Within a few minutes we saw there were only two people working in the restaurant — the owner/chef and his wife.

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l'Opera

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l’Opera

The chef was chopping away on salad fixings, then he’d turn to stir a pot on the stove. It was all open to view if you peered into the back.

His wife was scurrying around the front of the house with menus and carafes of water and house wine.

“English menu?” she asked, figuring quickly that the tall blondes she’d seated didn’t appear to be French.

Fortunate for us there was a menu in English. The items would have been hard to explain in French.

 

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Yes! I ordered the Bouchon de l’Opera salad…

Bouchon de l'Opera salad

Bouchon de l’Opera salad 

Veal’s nose and cow’s foot and all…

It reminded me of the andouillette  I’ve bought at the markets in Uzes. Unlike the cajun variety of andouille, the French sausage is made from pork intestines (chitterlings) and stomach (tripe). It was just a bit more unusual to see it served with pieces of herring.

My main course, or “plat,” was another extraordinary taste-test: home-made pike quenelle — a mixture of creamed fish, bread crumbs and egg served in a cream sauce.

 

Pike Quenelle

Pike Quenelle

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Tripe with cornichon "mayonnaise"

Tripe with cornichon “mayonnaise”

Mon Fils totally enjoyed his plat choice…

Tripe (cow’s stomach), breaded and pan-fried. It was served with a cornichon (gherkin) “mayonnaise” that tastes much like tartar sauce.

 

Served with vegetables

Another unusual dish caused us to ask what it could be. “Pumpkin.” Alongside were a French variety of potato pancakes. IMG_4318

 

 

 

 

For dessert …

There was no way that I was going to finish the night without a dessert. Just as the other courses were extraordinarily prepared, the Terrine glacée au chocolat noir and the Tarte tatin et sa confiture de Beaujolais nouveau were fabulous.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Family is visiting Uzes! Nothing could make me happier than to show my son the sights and to introduce him to my new friends.

The first stop was the Saturday market in Uzès. Even though the tourist season is over, the market this week was busy. These days there are many English-speaking voices in the crowds.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Saturday Market in October Uzes

 

Claude, the cheese man, was one of our first stops at the market. His “green” cheese with pistachios is one of my favorites. When he met my son, who is fluent in French, they started teasing with each other right away.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Claude the Cheese Man

 

The farmer with the chèvre from the “French Farmer” post was handing out his cheese samples, as always. When I told him about my blog where he was featured, I was surprised he already knew about it! Apparently, someone shopping that morning had written the link to the site on a piece of paper for him. He pulled the wrinkled note out from under his cash box to show it to me….with a big grin, I might add.

For me, it was the final shopping day before packing up my belongings to head to the States for a visit. There were clothes I’d been eyeing for some time that now, I couldn’t resist. Oh.. that I could pass up some of these tops and jackets! 

Family Is Visiting Uzès

 

Family Is Visiting Uzès

While walking through the rows of vendors, I ran into friends I’d met last week in San Quentin La Poterie. It’s an interesting story about how we became friends.

For months I have been receiving emails from a cafe in San Quentin that puts on monthly musical events and dinner. The cafe is tiny and tucked in between pottery shops on one of the narrow streets of the town.Family Is Visiting Uzès

This particular night an English friend who is moving to Uzes was in town, so it was an excellent time to try out the dinner concert. We were early getting to the cafe, and we had our choice of seating. Instead of going to a table for two, the hostess suggested we sit at a table for six. She knew that four French ladies had reservations and that some of them spoke English. She thought it would be fun for us to get to know each other.

Fortunately, my friend speaks French quite well because when the ladies arrived, only one spoke English. For a short while, the conversation was a bit reserved since we could not all join in. However, in no time, we were laughing and communicating with broken English and French the best we could. The evening was such a success that my friend and I were invited back for a birthday party.

Family is Visiting Uzès

Thanks to the hostess at the cafe, now I have more new friends for my family to meet in Uzès… and a party on Saturday night.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Friends meeting Pete for lunch after the Saturday Market at Le Provencal. Check out those yummy salads… even better with fries on top!

 

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, Rain, Go Away
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The last few days in Uzes have not been a lot of fun. Torrential rain has caused flooding and many nearby towns and villages have been hard hit.

Right now, Uzes is under an orange alert.

6245-1412933438_Fortunately the city of Uzes is on a hill, so even though we are close to the epicenter of a major storm, we have not been affected as much as others by the floods.

This is the fourth big storm in the region bringing more than two feet of rain since mid September. You may have heard that Montpelier had major damage from the first deluge.

The flooding is blamed on a stagnant weather pattern over Scotland, Ireland and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has caused more-than-normal amounts of moisture to flow into France.

Photos from some of the areas affected by this storm are pretty dramatic. Here are a few that I picked up from news sources and friends. 

My apartment

For me, the only damage in my apartment has been a bit of water — apparently from the windows in the guest room. The water must have seeped from under the windows into the electrical outlets. It caused a breaker switch to flip off — fortunately. Some overhead lights and a few other plugs in the apartment were affected, including where the refrigerator and internet are connected.  As you can see I “jerry-rigged” the refrigerator and internet with extension cords that connect to functioning outlets.IMG_3530

 

Electricians among you must be freaking out.

The problem has solved itself now. The electricity is back on, including the hot water tank!

 

 

Another storm is expected tomorrow that may be the worse yet.IMG_3532

The night of the biggest downpour I went out to the terrace several times to sweep away debris from a drain that empties water down the side of the building to the street below.

Today in the sunshine I cleaned the floor of the terrace with a scrub brush and swept away as much trash as I could find. If the water accumulate again, it might creep under the sliding glass door of the guest room.

I’m certain the terrace hasn’t been this clean in years.

 

The Duche

One thing I noticed while cleaning the terrace is the flagpole at the Duche.  The flag that flies on top of his tower indicates if the Duke is in town.

Apparently the Duke’s not at home.  I guess he’s left for higher ground …. perhaps to his apartment in Paris.

 

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The Palace of the Duche with no flag.

Saturday Market

Another coincidence of the stormy weather is that Saturday Market was nearly empty of vendors and shoppers. Where the streets and cafes are generally mobbed, this day was a different story.

 

Saturday Market in Uzes after the October flood

Saturday Market in Uzes after the October flood

 

Saturday Market cafes were open but few customers after the October flood

Saturday Market cafes were open but few customers after the October flood

 

 

A few shoppers wandered around the usually busy Saturday Market in Uzes

A few shoppers wandered around the usually busy Saturday Market in Uzes

 

Amazing photos

If anything good could be said about the stormy weather, the skies have been putting on a quite a show.

This photo was "borrowed" from a local news source and shows one of the powerful lightning strikes during the storm.

This photo was “borrowed” from a local news source and shows one of the powerful lightning strikes during the storm.

 

A view of the street without Saturday Market crowds and vendors.

A view of the street from my terrace showing  the street on  that is generally packed with shoppers and vendors

 

 

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The view from my living room window just prior to the first rain event

The view from my living room window just prior to the first rain event

 

If you note in the last photo, there are swarms of birds flying near the 11th century Tour Fenestrelle (“Window Tower”). It may be only me that thinks this, but the birds always seem to know when there’s a big change in the weather. Today they are unusually silent.

Perhaps the birds are resting up for what is ahead….. stay tuned.

 

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A Sunday in Provence: L’isle Sur la Sorgue

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One of my best friends from growing up days in Charlotte, NC has been in Uzes visiting the last two weeks. While our travels have kept me from writing on the blog,  there will be some crazy stories to share over the next few posts. Fortunately she hasn’t lost her sense of adventure and schoolgirl humor, so our time together was a riot.

Plat du Jour and wine at a favorite restaurant

Plat du Jour and wine at a favorite restaurant

 

Our first week together started out with my showing my guest, Pat, some of the highlights of Uzes and surrounding villages. There were also a few days filled with shopping and introducing her to some of my favorite people and places. Saturday Market, of course.

 

 

 

Meeting friend and bass player Gianni  with the Gig Street Band

 

Saturday Market

Saturday Market

 

Kid's fashions at the Saturday Market

Kid’s fashions at the Saturday Market

 

After a few days in Uzes we took off for a little village southeast of here, L’isle Sur la Sorgue. The village is well-known for it’s Sunday antique market which starts early in the morning. We left in plenty of time to spend several hours shopping; however we failed to find our way until a couple of hours before it ended.

Little did I know that the  few wrong turns on the hour and a half trip, with Pat navigating, was to set the stage for the rest of our travels.

 

Canals snake through L'Isle Sur la Sorgue enhancing its charm

Canals snake through L’Isle Sur la Sorgue enhancing its charm

 

 

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Cafes and market vendors lined the sides of the canal

 

 

 

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Ducks swam peacefully up and down the stream where the water was so clear you could see the bottom and creatures below

 

 

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Cafes that are tucked away from the busy sidewalks are filled on Sundays

 

One of several water wheels around town reminding visitors of the town's industrial past

One of several water wheels around town reminding visitors of the town’s industrial past

 

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When we reached L’isle Sur la Sorgue we learned that Sundays are not just for the antique market. The town is filled with vendors and street merchants of all types. 

 

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Cuddle fish in stew

Cuddle Fish Provence Style

 

Roasted pork and chickens

Roasted pork and chickens

 

Barely able to pull ourselves away from the various food and trinket stands, we discovered the area of town with migrant antique dealers with their goods literally spread up and down the roadway.

 

Tourists shopping along the avenue of antique dealers

Tourists shopping along the avenue of antique dealers

 

 In my other life this would have been paradise. The silver, the crystal, the blue and white china, the majolica … too good to be true. 

 

 

 

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Not to mention the antique gallery with 30 permanent shops…

 

 

… and the crazy shop on the main avenue filled with decorations for indoors and out.IMG_2936-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even if we’d been a few hours earlier, we couldn’t have had a better day. L’isle Sur la Sorgue is now one of my “best favorite places”to visit and to show off to guests who want to wander through Provence. 

Highly recommend!

 

 

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Arles: Feria du Riz Food and Fashion

In Arles there seems to always be a party going. Arles’ Feria du Riz is one of the best.

Arles, a town less than an hour down the road that’s mostly famous for being one of Van Gogh’s “hangouts”.  The Feria du Riz, the annual Rice Harvest Festival, celebrates one of the region’s top crops — rice.

Rice in Arles

Arles is on the northern edge of the Camargue which has been the subject of a few earlier blogs. Just as bulls, white horses and flamingos are indigenous to the area, rice has been produced in the Camargue since the Middle Ages. Today there are some 200 rice producers in this small area, representing about 5% of rice production in Europe. Camargue’s “red rice” is a popular local souvenir.

 

The Feria du Riz is, interestingly, a very Spanish celebration to be in France. The food and the fashions are straight from Spain.

Before I get much farther, though, let me set the scene for Arles’ Feria du Riz

When you drive into the old city of Arles, there’s a long avenue with cafes and shops that leads to a lovely park with a walkway that leads to the ancient areas of the town — the arena and the amphitheater. For the Feria, the avenue is spread with carnival-like booths with food vendors and souvenirs.

Arles' Feria du Riz

 

Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

At cafes along the way, the ohm-pah-pah bands are warming up the crowd for the afternoon festivities.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Road barriers lined the street for the running of the bulls scheduled for the early afternoon.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Since this is a Rice Harvest Festival the food booths along the way were showing off their take on  — a Spanish favorite that matches with the theme of the Feria.

I was starving when I hit town and this was the first paella stand in line, so it was my pick.

Arles' Feria du Riz

I sat on the steps of a fancy hotel and restaurant and gulped down the serving of paella with a bottle of water. It hit the spot on the already hot day.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

As I walked down the street, I wasn’t certain the place I stopped was the best choice. It all looked so good!

Arles' Feria du Riz

These photo-perfect folks were putting out some fabulous kebab dishes.

Arles’ Feria du Riz is about food

One popular food offering was kebabs — in all varieties. There were kebabs in sandwiches and kebab “stew” served over frites (french fries). The kebab mixtures were steaming away in huge pans, just as the paella.

Then there were the fish specialties — a Fisherman’s plate with calamari and pots of steaming moule (mussels).

Arles’ Feria du Riz is about fashion

My favorite stop of the day was a sidewalk shop with the Spanish dresses, skirts and all the frills. I had to hold myself back from buying one of the skirts. Imagine a holiday party wearing one of these!

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Arles’ Feria du Riz is about the scenery

Beyond the vendors I walked to the entrance to the park and walkway to the old town.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

When up the steps and around the town building, there lay before me the beautiful village of Arles, with buildings and roadways centuries ago. People were everywhere, in every square, eating and enjoying festivities and socializing the warm September Sunday.

One of the famous squares in the city, during the Feria, is a showcase of artisans and regional foods.

Arles' Feria du Riz

To my surprise, one of the new products being displayed was barbeque sauces. In France? I could hardly believe my eyes. Of course, I had to strike up a conversation with the owners to tell him I’d been to Memphis in May — the barbeque event of the year. He knew it well and hopes to make it there someday himself.

Arles' Feria du Riz

 

After spending most of the afternoon walking around the town and checking out the food stands, it was time for the bulls running in the street. This time I knew how to get up close and personal. For the next post, though. Along with all the fanfare that surrounds a bullfight in the south of France. Stay tuned!

 

Arles' Feria du Riz

 

Barefooting in Sete, France

A summer weekend in Sete is more than a bar scene. It’s a multi-cultural extravaganza.

In fact, there are so many activities going on during a summer weekend in Sete, it’s hard to decide what to do first. Regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong. It’s going to be different from anything this Southern girl has ever seen. Just a walk around town is an experience.

A walk to the “central park” presented a chance to see a ride for kids I wish was in every town. Children LOVE getting the exercise racing each other on their make-believe ponies

Sete

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Sete

Park “ponies” for kids in Sete

Summer weekend in Sete

The city is a major seaport for France, so Sete takes advantage of every aspect of being an international coastal town, from seafood markets to private beaches.

Oysters are so abundant in Sete, people of the town enjoy the salty, tender mollusks all times of the day. These pictures were the “small” version. On weekend mornings, people of Sete are gathered in the city market (Halles) enjoying oysters and beer. Shellfish of all types are ready for eating on the spot or to bag up to take away. If you’ve never tried sea snails, you must. But then, you’d better like chewy things, because they will remind you of a tasty pencil eraser.

 

Nighttime in Sete is a thrill to the senses. The views, the music, the whole atmosphere is exciting to see, to feel, and to enjoy.

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Daytime in Sete is beach time.

summer weekend in Sete

Beach club in Sete

 

If you’re going to Sete in the summer and you want to go to a private club on the beach, MAKE A RESERVATION. We didn’t and ended up with one beach chair and one umbrella.
As much as I love the French, there are a few things I just don’t get. The biggest thing is why business people don’t understand the concept of “turning over” tables, etc. For example, we went to a beach club without a reservation. We arrived at 11 o’clock in the morning, and almost all the chairs were empty. Nevertheless, we left because all the seats were reserved. Even when we said we were only staying until 3pm and we’d be willing to move chairs if people with the reservation arrived, we were denied our request.

We left and went down the beach to another “club.” There the nice hostess found us one umbrella and one chair, even though others on her beach were empty. The four of us took turns sitting on the chair and on the sand. I figure the first establishment lost 40 euros business, plus our lunch trade. The second club could have seated us all, then taken in another 30 euros for chairs and umbrellas that were still empty when we left.

Go figure.

summer weekend in Sete

Summer weekend in Sete

Joutes Nautiques in Sete

Water jousting, or “joutes nautique” has been a summer sport and spectacle in Sete since 1666 when the seaport was formally opened. I thought I had missed the season since the most prominent events are held earlier in August. Sea jousting is held throughout sea towns on the Mediterranean, though Sete is world-famous for its teams and tournaments.

To my surprise and delight, we literally ran into an event one afternoon where two teams from Sete were up against each other. 

 

summer weekend in Sete

 

You would never know that the home town team would win either way by the enthusiasm the crews on the jousting boats performed. They were both elegant and fierce.

Each boat is filled with a team of ten oarsmen, one jouster and a “spare,” a helmsman and two musicians.  The “spare” is on board for the next joust.

summer weekend in Sete

 

One jouster on each boat stands on a raised platform, called a “la tintaine” at the stern of the boat. The jouster stands about 10 feet (three meters) above the surface of the water.

 

summer weekend in Sete

 

After a polite “pass by” the jousters and crew are ready for the duel.

 

summer weekend in Sete

 

It would seem the red team stacked the deck … so to speak.

summer weekend in Sete

 

Even so, the blue team was victorious.

summer weekend in Sete

 

summer weekend in Sete

 

Afterward, it’s all about teamwork and getting quickly out of the boat to have a smoke and to celebrate.

summer weekend in Sete

Is it any wonder I love Sete?

 

Thanks, Nancy, for being the “hostess with the mostest.” To readers who want to visit Sete, be sure to look up Nancy’s destination tour company, Absolutely Southern France. She has fantastic tours of Sete and the area.

Also, thanks to Christina Rabaste for welcoming me back to your studio and home to view your art. I’m looking for spaces to put them all! Love!

 

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Check out these earlier posts for more information about Sete, Nancy’s tours, and Christina’s art.

By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sete

Sete: Abbeys and Vineyards

Sete: Eat, Pray (to eat), Love (to eat)

Final Days in Sete: Parties, Artist Friends and Days at the Beach

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers, and Bouziques

The Bad Girls in Sete

For more about water jousting, here’s the Men’s Journal’s view.

 

 

Sete, France on a weekend

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Bad Girls in Sete

The Bad Girls in Sete

If you enjoyed the stories of the “Golden Girls'” tour with the Barefoot Blogger, this post will take you back a generation or two. For last weekend, I got up close and personal with the Bad Girls in Sete while they literally “took over” two bistros.

Friday night’s performance was in an intimate setting at a bistro on a backstreet in Sete. A popular place for locals, Le Bistro du Marche was hopping more than usual when the Bad Girls of London started their rockin’ performance.

Bad Girls in Sete

Bad Girls in Sete

Bad Girls in Sete

 

Even the barkeeper was overwhelmed with the crowd the Bad Girls brought in to the hide-away-place. Business was booming.

 

Bad Girls in Sete

 

When the Bad Girls let out their rendition of “Breaking up somebody’s home,” the crowd moved in on the tiny bandstand. Nevermind that it was a steamy August night with only two bar doors opened to let in air.

 

Bad Girls in Sete

Saturday night at Bar le St Clair the atmosphere was electric.

With a front-row seat, I could feel the cool breeze from the Sete waterway … or maybe that was chills from the fabulous sounds coming from the Bad Girls Groove Band.

Bad Girls in Sete

Bad Girls in Sete
Bad Girls in Sete

 

Bad Girls in Sete

 

Either way, the combination of jazz, rock and funk music mixed with cocktails served with flaming sparklers literally lit up the town.

Bad Girls in Sete

 

The Bad Girls Groove Band is not your average rock group. Musicians range in age from 20’s to 60’s. Some have made the art a lifetime career with credentials that include composing, performing, and recording with musical partners throughout Europe. Others are just starting out, aspiring to keep the sounds of James Brown, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, and other icons of jazz and blues alive.

 

Bad Girls in Sete

A few simply love to make music yet spend their daylight hours working in totally unrelated fields. Even though some stand-ins or “playmates” were on stage in Sete instead of the “regulars,” the group’s esprit de corps was evident. What holds them together is their incredible talent, energy, and soulful sound.

Bad Girls in Sete

 

Enjoy the Bad Girls Groove Band’s “Breaking up Somebody’s Home.” 

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Village Scenes in Uzes: Place aux Herbes on a Summer Day

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French lessons are taking over my life. My quest to learn the language well enough to speak French by December is keeping my feet planted in Uzes for awhile.

There could be worse places to spend time, right? Here are some of the sights that are typical — and some not so likely —  this time of year.  The scene: the center of the village — the Place aux Herbes.

Place des Herbes, the meeting place in Uzes

Place des Herbes, the meeting place in Uzes

Musician plays for tips

Musician plays for tips

Musician in Uzes

Cyclists stroll through the streets leading to the Place des Herbes

Cyclists stroll through the streets leading to the Place aux Herbes

More musicians are scattered throughout the public places

More musicians are scattered throughout the public places

Musician in Uzes

Fountain seating at Place des Herbes

Fountain seating at Place aux Herbes

Families and pets stroll happily along.

Families and pets stroll happily along.

Sometimes there’s the unexpected ….

Cyclists in Uzes

Cycles in Uzes

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May in Uzes: Art, Food and Mustang Sally

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It’s officially tourist season in Uzes. By the first of May all of the shops that closed for winter are open. The town is becoming lively again with art shows and fun things to fill your day.

Last week I was off to visit Geoffrey to resume our “play dates” — yes, he’s back!

An advertising flyer for2014-04-30 13.12.03 the opening of an art expo was stuck to the front door of his house. Fortunately, I noticed it because the opening for the exhibit was that day. Instead of going to dinner, as planned, we made a quick decision to attend the expo. First, there would be plenty of food and wine and, second, we would meet some new and old friends.

Geoffrey's door Uzes If I havent’ told you before, Uzes is for artists and for those who love art of all kinds. With numerous “pop-up” art galleries, there are lots of exhibits.

Arriving at the Gallery Indigo, Geoffrey and I were among rooms full of guests — some were invited, others joined from off the street.  Various yummy things were being served, including a variety of pizzas in small bites, as well as seafood, cheese and sausages in puffed pastries. A choice of red, white and rose wines was waiting for guests to serve themselves.

Definitely not an art critic, yet I was … and still am intrigued by some of these paintings — especially the “portraits.”

(Please note: these photos were taken with my iPhone at the exhibition, but you will get the idea …)

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The faces are quite compelling. Perhaps it’s their innocence shown in unexpected guises that draws me in.

Also displayed were larger paintings with totally different themes.

Art in Uzes   The “Crevettes” is the title of one of the series of paintings, ie: “Shrimp”     2014-05-08 14.41.39

 

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And ceramics

Francois Mandin, 100Drine, Dom Labreuil, and Cecile Constantin are the artists.

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 Lunch at Le Provencal

One of my favorite places for lunch in Uzes is Le Provencal. The cafe is on the main street right across from the Cathedral.

My first visit to Le Provencal was the night of Beaujolais Nouveau. It seemed a bit “rough”. During tourist season and warmer weather when you can be served outside, it’s quite different. Definitely the best food I’ve eaten in town. In fact, I’m seriously considering having the “plat du jour” several times a week to treat myself … and to economize. A fabulous meal with fresh, local ingredients is prepared and served at a price that can’t be beat. It’s really less expensive, and much more fun, than grocery shopping and cooking.

Even the four-legged guests are charming.

Chein

My new devotion comes from my special treatment from Alex and Fabien who work at Le Provencal.

One day when I met Geoffrey and his new friend, Annabelle, for lunch at Le Provencal,  I drove Mustang Sally and parked her across the street.

Sally had just been picked up from her winter parking place and she needed gas. In fact, she needed a bath, too. So after her bath and when I was ready to fill her tank at Carrefour’s gas pump, I found the key for the gas lid wouldn’t work. Or at least it wouldn’t work for me.

Not wanting to break the key in the lock, I called Geoffrey — of course. He invited me to stop by Le Provencal for him to inspect the key to make sure it was the right one and to join them for dessert.

No quicker than I had dipped my spoon into the heavenly île flottante (floating island – see below), Alex and Fabien were yelling: “Geoffrey, the police are ticketing your car!” (in French.)

With that, they both left the restaurant and the tables they were waiting, and ran towards the police beside Mustang Sally. I jumped up and joined them to plead mercy with the gendarmes.

Fortunately the officers were merciful and I drove Sally away without a ticket.

Here’s what I missed!

île flottante

île flottante

… and on the opposite side of the table..a French take on Apple Pie … apples and cinnamon ice cream on a thin pastry.

French apple pie dessert

French apple pie dessert

 

Mustang Sally gets a make-over

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