Tag: French cuisine

Sea Urchins: Facts, Fiction and How To Eat Them!

Ever eaten a sea urchin? Find out why the French love them, fresh from the Mediterrean.

One of my favorite people in France is Nancy McGee, contributor to the Barefoot Blogger’s  Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette page. She really knows about the south of France, it’s foods, its places and its customs. Proprietor of the now infamous Absolutely Southern France tour company in Sete, Nancy’s company won Best Holiday Tours 2016 in Luxury Travel Guide and … drumroll …. Nancy is Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year for her region of France for 2015.  Thanks to Nancy we’ve enjoyed reading about two of France’s favorite foods — cheese and oysters. Now it’s time to learn about sea urchins. Yes, those spiny creatures that, if you’re not careful,  you step on while wading in the Mediterranean.

Would you believe they’re edible? Read on and find out more.

SEA URCHINS  : A REVELATION

My story – Nancy McGee

What is it that makes one fall in love with the south of France? Is it the lifestyle, climate, food, wine…? For me it was all of the above – plus my future husband, a young medical student. Thirty years ago, rather than return home to Canada after a one-year work assignment, I readily exchanged the arctic climate of Quebec for endless days of sunshine. My husband and I spent our summers in his hometown of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. I have many happy memories of those leisurely days spent on the beach, swimming, sunbathing and also discovering many culinary gems of this Mediterranean island. However, it wasn’t until much later that I learned to appreciate the most highly prized of all: the sea urchin.

Sea urchin from Sete

In Corsica, where this bounty from the sea is almost revered, summer beach parties which centred around the thorny creatures are a popular tradition. The young men dive for the urchins and return to the beach bearing sacks full of ‘treasure’. Beach towels are spread out, bottles of wine, opened – and the sea urchins are slit and eaten on the spot. Fresh from Canada, I was quite taken aback by the “primitive” nature of this event. As far as I was concerned, sea urchins were something to be cursed, especially if one had the bad luck to step on one! But to eat them raw and live? It was simply out of the question!

I graciously refused the kind offers to join the feast but have since made up for lost time!

Originally called ‘sea hedgehog’ for obvious reasons, the sea urchin has been a much maligned creature along with its cousins like the sea cucumber, sea star and sand dollar. The very name suggests ragged, scavenging youngsters out of the pages of Charles Dickens. (And indeed the species – echinoidea – does scavenge the ocean floor.) In 19th century Newfoundland they were disdainfully referred to as ‘whore’s eggs’, yet they were considered delicacies in the days of Pompeii. The philosopher Aristotle studied them long and hard. In his book The History of Animals he described their ‘mouth’ (center) as a horn lantern, known as ‘Aristotle’s Lantern“. It is capable of drilling through rocks!

The “revelation” for me came around five years ago when a friend in the colourful Mediterranean port of Sète, which is now my home, invited me to a New Year’s Eve party. As the guests sipped aperitifs, a huge seafood platter was presented and we were asked to serve ourselves. I must admit I don’t know if it was the excitement of the New Year or a little too much bubbly, but I spontaneously took hold of a sea urchin, scooped out the small bright orange sections – and cautiously took a bite.

Never could I have imagined such a delicious and delicate sweetness. I felt like a princess (the word primitive was instantly erased from my vocabulary) as I explored the shell in search of a small bite of this newly discovered treasure. It took me back to the beach parties and the young men offering unlimited quantities of sea urchins. It made me realize how much I had missed and how silly I had been to refuse to taste this fabulous sea food.

 

A FESTIVAL TO CELEBRATE THE SEA URCHIN

The south of France offers a variety of festivals, mainly during the summer, which draw hoards of visitors and tourists to the Mediterranean coast.

urchin 3

 

One of my favorites is the Sea Urchin Festival in March , or ‘oursinade’ which is unique to the town of Sete. Over 20,000 sea urchins are served in the main square over the weekend. Just 5 euros buys a glass of local Picpoul white wine and a dish of raw sea urchins, which are generally accompanied with slices of fresh baguettes and butter.
The urchins are hand picked by divers in the neighboring lagoon by the Mediterranean and sold in the local markets for approximately a mere 4 euros per dozen.
At first glance, admittedly, sea urchins do not appear particularly appealing, but they are comparable to oysters for delivering a fresh, straight-from-the-sea flavour. Often described as tasting like the sea without being fishy, they have a “creamy ocean, slightly sweet flavour”. Rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, they are a good source of protein. (Also rumoured to be an aphrodisiac, but that’s another story…)
Please bear in mind if you plan on travelling to the Mediterranean coast that sea urchins are not available in the summer (from May to October). It is the reproduction season with laws instated to protect the species.

Recipes

Scrambled eggs with sea urchin
Ingredients
8 eggs, 12 sea urchins, 2 spoons of butter, salt and pepper
Open sea urchins and retrieve the « coral » ,
Beat eggs , add salt and pepper.

In a double boiler, first melt t 1 teaspoon? spoon of butter. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can easily place a light, non-plastic bowl set over a pot of lightly steaming boiling/simmering? water
Add eggs and stir with wooden spoon until the eggs become creamy
In a saucepan, melt 1 spoon teaspoon? of butter and add the sea urchin coral coral wasn’t explained , heat for 1 minute
Pour over the scrambled eggs and serve

As legend would have it...

  • Fossil sea urchins were thought to be stones that had fallen from the sky during a storm.
  • The druids thought that sea urchins were eggs of snakes.
  • Sea urchins “Eurhodia”, found in abundance, are called ” lucky stones ” in Jamaica.

And the facts…

  • The sea urchin first appeared five-million years ago and more than 200 species of sea urchin populate waters around the world.
  • In the south of England, fossil sea urchins are placed on the racks of the dairies to prevent milk from turning.
  • They are believed to be strong aphrodisiacs.
  • Sea urchins prefer rocks to the ocean floor because their tentacles can cling to rocks.
  • Sea urchins do not have a brain.

urchin 2

Lyon bouchons

What Does a Southern Gal Think of Lyon? “Hog Heaven!”

Lyon, France is famous for its bouchon restaurants. In the southern states of the US, we call it “home cooking.”

Lyon bouchons are known for their modest food made from inexpensive ingredients like organ meats. We have chitterlings, tripe and hog’s feet served in restaurants throughout the southern states of the US. We call them “innards” and “parts.”  Bouchon takes “parts” to a new level — cow’s foot, veal nose, veal paunch (stomach) — just to name a few tasty bits.

Lyon bouchons

Bouchon restaurant menu

 

Lyon Bouchons

Bouchon gastronomes in Lyon were where the silk merchants frequently ate during the day. Now there are so many restaurants that serve bouchon there is a rating system to help differentiate the “authentic” from the “tourist-traps.”

Lyon bouchons

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. When I arrived without reservations I was seated at one of the two small tables the owner’s wife designated as “unreserved.” Looking around, 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 the place well as a friendly stop after work.

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

There were only two people working in the restaurant — the owner/chef and his wife.

Lyon bouchons

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 blonde she’d seated didn’t appear to be French.

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

 

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

Veal’s nose and cow’s foot and all…

It reminded me of the andouillette 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 here with pieces of herring.

Lyon bouchons

Bouchon de l’Opera salad 

 

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.

 

 

Lyon bouchons

Pike Quenelle

 

 

Lyon bouchons

Tripe with cornichon “mayonnaise”

Tripe: another bouchon 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

Although it was quite in disguise, pumpkin was a side dish. Alongside, a French variety of potato pancakes. Lyon bouchons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dessert …

There was no way that I was going to finish the night without a dessert. Below are just two of the choices –terrine glacée au chocolat noir and the tarte tatin et sa confiture de Beaujolais nouveau. Fabulous!

7 Great Ideas for An Awesome Autumn Weekend Around Uzes

 Autumn is my favorite time of year in Uzes.

The tourists have left, or at least the crowds are gone. The weather is cool. The colors of nature and the man-made village walls, homes and regal buildings are all the shades of red and yellow against the autumn sky. Most noticeably, there’s a calm in the air that has been missing.

Being that this is the Barefoot Blogger’s third autumn in Uzes, I now know a few more people and a few more places to roam. My world is expanding. However, I’ve discovered you don’t have to go very far away to enjoy sights and experiences that are familiar. But as you’ll see from the photos here, it’s all somehow very different in France. Come with me to spend a weekend around Uzes.

Vernissage

October is when many artists show off their latest works to the locals. In the nearby village of Cavillargues, an art exhibit — or vernissage — was hosted by town officials in the Mairie (town hall.) Andy Newman — one of my favorites who lives part-time in the US, part-time in Cavillargues — was the center of attraction at this event. The village is less than an hour’s drive from Uzes, so it was a perfect start for weekend activities. (See the earlier post for more on Andy’s exhibit.)

2

Dinner in Uzes

After the vernissage with all its wine and apéros (snacks), a visit to the cozy Italian restaurant, La Voglia, in Uzes was a perfect choice for a late, casual dinner.

3

Vallée de l’Eure Festivities

In the valley park near Uzes there is almost always something going on. This weekend the main event was “Envolée Céleste” or “Heavenly Flight.” Twenty hot air balloons lifted off the valley floor to soar above the town and countryside. We watched the pre-flight setup from ground level, then we climbed up a rocky, narrow path — filled with prickly bushes — to reach the highest viewpoint.  The sights along the way and at the top were amazing, even though it was an overcast day. If you have 5 minutes and want to feel like you were actually there to see the huge balloons pop up behind the trees and hills around Uzes, watch the video.

4

Saturday Dinner and Jazz at Au Petit Jardin

To round out the balloon day events, friends gathered at the Au Petit Jardin for dinner and music.  To top it all off? Caraxés: A new taste from France — spirits made with rum and aquavit.

5

Le Zanelli's in Uzes

Le Zanelli’s in Uzes

Sunday Lunch at Le Zanelli’s 

One of the best Italian restaurants in Uzes, in the opinion of many friends, is Le Zanelli’s. I confess this was my first visit, so I reserve my vote for a later time. A small salad was all I cared for after a large meal the night before. I will say, it’s one of the prettiest restaurants in town. Indoor and outdoor seating makes the location ideal for a Sunday, rain or shine.

6

A car ride into the Cevennes

As a child in the Carolinas, we’d often go for a “ride” on Sunday afternoons. We’d visit friends and relatives, or drive into a town nearby just to see what was going on. The habit is one I will pick up again now in France. So many interesting places are only a few hours away from Uzes.

A drive into the Cevennes sounded like a great idea, especially with the changing colors of foliage in the mountains. So off we went in good ‘ol Lucy —  me, Paula and Rich — and we picked up Geoffrey to add humor and guidance. After an hour or so on the winding road, we ran upon a market where the locals were selling apples and onions. It wasn’t long before we discovered there was a festival farther up the road. Too bad we hadn’t looked at an events calendar or we would have made an earlier start. Next time! There’s a famous book to read about the area, too —  Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

 

What an amazingly beautiful ride! Stops along the way to take pictures of the French countryside proved this was no ordinary “Sunday drive.”

Nosey me, I insisted we stop to peer into the yard and garden of a luxury château.

7

A Monday afternoon walk in the Garrigue 

Depending upon how much time you have to spend in and around Uzes, try to find an opportunity to take off to explore by foot. Recently I’ve joined a “newcomer’s” group — AVF — and one of their popular activities is hiking. This walk, however, was with a leader of the AVF hiking group who was doing a “test” walk on an unfamiliar course before offering it to AVF. By the end of the afternoon, we’d travelled 8-10 kilometers along rocky trails, up and down large and small hills, in the garrigue (scrubland) area outside Uzes. Even where there is little more than short trees and sparse vegetation, the scenery was enchanting.  (For a wonderful review of the garrigue, read this article at The Good Life France.)

Back to Uzes

After a very busy weekend, there’s no place like home. For me, this is the way…

 

IMG_8105

Saturday Market in Pézenas, France

As you know by now, market day is my favorite time to visit new places in France.

Saturday in Uzes is a hard act to follow. Saturday market in Pézenas isn’t far behind.

Saturday market in Pézenas

One of the “most beautiful towns” in Languedoc

Pézenas, 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.

Saturday market in Pézenas

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

 

Saturday market in Pézenas  Moliere in Pézenas

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

Apparently Moliere spent only a few days in Pézenas 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 Pézenas 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”.

Saturday market in Pézenas

Statue of Marianne in Pézenas

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.

 

Saturday market in Pézenas

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

 

Architecture in Pézenas

During my short half-day stay in Pézenas, 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.”

Saturday market in Pézenas

Saturday market in Pézenas

Doorway in Pézenas

Saturday market in Pézenas

Pézenas 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.

Saturday market in Pézenas

Street scene on market day in Pézenas

Saturday market in Pézenas

Passageway in Pézenas

Saturday Market in Pézenas

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 Pézenas, 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

Saturday market in Pézenas

Plat du Jour in Pézenas – Gratin de Fruits de Mer

Saturday market in Pézenas

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.

 Pézenas is a MUST GO BACK TO! place. There’s so much more to see and do.  Stay tuned for more …

Saturday market in Pézenas

20 Things That Are Just So Odd In France

Friends ask “how’s your life in France.” Yes,  it’s very different from my life in the States. Some of the simplest things in France are the most unusual and most complicated.

Here are just a few of the differences.

1

Cemeteries

Cemetery in France

Cemeteries in France are above the ground

 

 

2

Stairs

Narrow spiral staircases are everywhere

Narrow spiral staircases

 

 

3

Air conditioning

Fans

Fans

 

 

 

4

Fashion

IMG_3137

 

 

 

 

5

Hot chocolate

IMG_0027_2

 

 

 

 

6

Coliseums 

2013-06-25 12.54.10

 

 

 

 

 

7

Door locks

IMG_5507

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Manicures and pedicures 

Water-less manicures and pedicures

Water-less manicures and pedicures

 

 

 

 

9

Toilet paper holders

IMG_5345

 

10

Flushing toilets

IMG_5344

 

11

Washing machines 

Tiny washer and dryer all-in-one

Tiny washer and dryer all-in-one

 

12

Hot water

Faucet head soaking in vinegar to remove calcium that clogs hot water

Faucet head soaking in vinegar to remove calcium that clogs hot water

 

13

Streets

Narrow streets

Narrow streets

 

14

Coffee

 

Coffee in tiny cups

Coffee in tiny cups

 

 

15

Rooftops

Rooftops in Uzes

Rooftops in Uzes

 

 

 

 

 

16

Street Signs

 

2013-06-24 14.26.22

 

 

17

Crepes

2013-06-18 20.09.56

 

18

Carousels

IMG_0168

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

Wine caves

2013-07-01 16.29.44

 

 

 

 

 

20

Public toilets

IMG_0054

I love France!

IMG_2100

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

My Life in France. Pinch Me.

You don’t know how many times the Barefoot Blogger has to pinch herself to believe she is really living in France. It’s more than a dream come true. It’s pure heaven.

It’s not fair to brag about what a good time I’m having, but … just saying. Take a look at this past week. There was the Feria in Nimes; a cooking class with a French chef; wine tasting; Blanche Nuit with music and art; and a town-wide brocante. Throw in dinners and shopping with friends and tell me what there’s not to love about France!

Feria Nimes

The September Feria in Nimes is a 3-day party with celebrations all around the town for young and old. The tradition of the feria showcases the Spanish influence in the south of France where corridas are an honored tradition. (See post on “The Bullfight”)

French Cooking Class

It was pure good luck that I was invited to attend at the new Cooking With Class Uzes.  Replicated from the company’s successful operation in Paris, the Uzes offshoot offers expert guidance on cooking that is strictly Provencal. The near-day-long experience deserves a post of it’s own, which will follow. Here are highlights  — “cooking with fish.”

To find out more, stay tuned …

Making dough. Stay tuned to find out more!

Making dough. Stay tuned to find out more!

Wine tasting 

How convenient!  A winery is just across the street from the Cooking With Class Uzes school. I just rolled from one to another … and took the class along with me.  How lucky, too, there was an art exhibition upstairs.

Blanche Nuit

Each Fall Uzes dazzles with white lights and the town celebrates ’til midnight for Blanche Nuit. Music, art galleries and shops are everywhere you look along the streets and alleyways.

This year the celebration started early with dinner at the newly re-opened Hotel Entraigues with Chef Axel and jazz performed by popular local musicians.

A sampling of the art …

Artists: Oliver Bevan, Anne-Marie Lanteri and Catherine Robin 

Artist: Jean-louis Dulaar

Artist: Laurent Dubè

Artist: Viva Blevis

Chapeaux et Accessoires: Petit Béguin 

Uzès Lavoir

For the first time in recent history, the Uzes lavoir was lighted and welcoming visitors on Blanche Nuit. The lavoir, built in 1854, was used as a communal house for washing clothes.

Vide-greniers UZES

A brocante sale covered the town all day Sunday with items ranging from devine to bizarre.

Dining and shopping

With friends from near and far ….

… and a beautiful full moon to cap it all off!

IMG_7227

IMG_7129

36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence

If the Barefoot Blogger didn’t live so close to Provence, I’d stress about where to go and what to see if I had only 36 hours to visit.

Cousin Judy from Arizona spent two weeks with me this summer giving me a chance to figure out some new road trips from Uzes. Touring Provence was high on our priority list. When I got down to planning, 36 hours — spending two nights on the road — would give us time to enjoy each stop. Digging deeper into the plan, the trip began to take on a theme: “36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence: “wine” in the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape region, and “roses” at La Bastide “Rose”, home and boutique hotel of Poppy Salinger, wife of former White House press secretary, Pierre Salinger.

Hope you enjoy following our trip!

Itinerary

Day One 

Morning tour of Avignon

Lunch and tour Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Overnight at Bastide Rose

Day Two 

Morning touring St. Paul de Mausolee and the “trail of Van Gogh”

Lunch and shopping Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Late afternoon Carrières de Lumières and wine tasting in Les Baux de Provence

Dinner and overnight at Bastide Rose

Day Three

 L’Isle sur la Sorgue Sunday Antique Market

Drive back to Uzes

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day One 

Itinerary: Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Thor

To get anywhere from Uzes, you almost always have to go through Avignon or Nimes. For this jaunt into Provence, Avignon was the direction to take. Plus, it is a city I wanted Judy to see, even if only briefly.

Our travel plan for the first day was to visit Avignon in the morning then to have a late lunch in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We would wander through Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the town famous for wines, stop for a few tastings (degustions) and end up at La Bastide Rose where we were staying for two nights.

Avignon – Morning 

IMG_4073An early morning wakeup in Uzes got us to Avignon in time for our second cup of coffee. Since I had taken the tour of the Pope’s Palace on an earlier visit, we opted to stroll around the main tourist area, then take a mini-train to view the rest of the historic landmarks. The timing was perfect for us to get to the second stop of the day, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For a tour of the Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) add another 1 1/2 to 2 hours to your morning in Avignon.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape –  Lunchtime 

Chateau Des Fines Roches

Chateau Des Fines Roches

Just over 30 minutes up the road from Avignon, the wine district of Chateauneuf-du-Pape was waiting for us. In English the name of the town and region means “Pope’s new chateau.” The once glorious chateau in the village, which was the summer home of Pope John XXII, the second of the popes who resided in Avignon, is now in ruins.

While part of our mission in Chateauneuf-du-Pape was to taste wine, we also wanted to see Chateau Des Fines Roches and have lunch on the terrace of the elegant hillside resort.  I wish I could say we enjoyed the meal as much as the scenery, but the food and service were disappointing. Perhaps it was a bad day for the chef and staff because I’d seen rather good reviews by others who have been there to stay and to dine. You should go there anyway… even if it’s for a cocktail. The view is amazing and the poolside dining spot is elegant, indeed.

IMG_4110

Chateauneuf-du-Pape – Afternoon Wine Tasting

Chateau Cabrieres

Chateau Cabrieres

After lunch it was on to wine tasting.  A little research reading online wine magazines definitely helped identify some of the world famous domaines to seek out.  If we could hit just one of the well-known places for “degustion” (a wine tasting), we would be happy.

The first place we stopped was Chateau Cabrieres.  The wines we tasted were very typical of the Côtes du Rhône region, filled with flavors of figs, cherries and berries. Quite nice.

IMG_4183Our second stop was at one of the domaines on our list — Paul Avil’s Clos des Pape. The centuries old domaine consistently ranked high in wine publications and, for example, they were Wine Spectator’s 2012 Top 100.  The tasting room was unassuming and the host was very friendly and helpful. Needless to say, the wine was superb!

Thor – La Bastide Rose  – Overnight

IMG_4424

Poppy Salinger, wife of former White House Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger

A friend told me about La Bastide Rose, a boutique hotel located centrally in the area of Provence we were planning to visit. The bastide is owned by Poppy Salinger-Le-Cesne, wife of the late Pierre Salinger, press secretary to President John Kennedy. My friend also told me there was a museum on the property, filled with memorabilia from Salinger’s days in the White House.  Since I was a huge fan of the Kennedys and a journalist myself, I could think of nothing better than to visit Salinger’s home to learn about his life and career. Perhaps I would learn some secrets about the days of “Camelot.” Cousin Judy agreed that a stay at La Bastide Rose would be the crown jewel in our tour of Provence.

Pierre Salinger lived at La Bastide Rose with his family the last four years of his life. The private property, which is less than an hour from Avignon, is hidden away among groves of apple trees and acres of vineyards. The seventeenth century home and adjoining structure, converted from a paper mill,  is along a section of the Sorgue River.  At one time the property was a production facility for Italian marble objects.

The comfortably elegant estate includes an outdoor garden with massive contemporary sculptures and art pieces. Beside the garden is the river and a park-like island that is part of the property. Hammocks, swings, benches and sun chairs are arranged throughout the island where visitors can relax and hide out. The peaceful ambiance is complete with a waterfall that sends rippling sounds throughout the place.

Our first night at the bastide we enjoyed a light meal of tapas, served to us as we sat on the terrace. Then it was early to bed. Day two was going to be very busy.

Day Two

Itinerary: Saint- Remy,  Le Baux de Provence, La Bastide Rose.

Even though I had been to Saint-Remy, I was anxious to see it again. My last trip was in the springtime and I knew the surroundings would look much different in the summer. Of course, who can resist shopping and lunch in the beautiful town of Saint-Remy? In Les Baux de Provence we were headed straight to see the famous light show (Carrières de Lumières). A wine tasting at Cave Vignoble Sainte Berthe was conveniently nearby. Next, dinner and overnight at La Bastide Rose.

 St. Paul de Mausolee in Saint-Remy -Morning tour

St. Paul de Mausolee is the hospital-asylum where Van Gogh self-committed himself just prior to his death. The well-maintained site is faithfully preserved to remind visitors of the time when Van Gogh was a patient there. From the bedroom where Van Gogh’s wheelchair and desk sat, to the courtyard below, everything was just as he would have left them. A new addition to St. Paul since my last visit is the kitchen, restored to perfection.  

 IMG_4224Saint-Rémy – Afternoon lunch and shopping

The morning market in Saint-Remy was coming to a close when we arrived, nevertheless, there were plenty of shops open and ready to serve up everything Provencal.  From olive oil to configures and calissons — a new sort of candy to me that’s famous in Provence. Cans of sardines, Camargue rice — both red and black — and flavored salts were my finds of the day.

Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence- Late afternoon

IMG_4302Not too far down the road from Saint-Remy is Les Baux de Provence. The village that sits atop a hill in the southern part of the Alpilles mountain range is a sight to see. During the summer the hilltop village is packed with tourists, so we opted to skip the steep climb and visit only the Carrières de Lumières. Neither of us was prepared for the experience. First of all, the cave was mammoth. Second, the presentation of art and music was mind-blowing. Hundreds of tourists filled the aisles between the illuminated walls of the cave, yet it seemed as if we were the only ones there. Visitors sat around the perimeter of the huge space just so they could take it all in. 

Mas-sainte-berthe

Mas-sainte-berthe

Coming out from the light show we were happy to run into Mas Sainte Berthe , a winery on our way out of Les Baux. Yes, more wine!  Some of my favorite tastings of the trip.

Bastide Rose in Thor -Dinner and overnight

Discovering that Bastide Rose had a fine restaurant onsite was an added reason for staying for two nights. The mastermind of the kitchen is Poppy’s son, Emmanuel de Menthon.

La Bastide Rose for dinner

Emmanuel

Along with his son, who serves as wine host and waiter, Emmanuel and his chef create imaginative dishes from local and home-grown products. Guests appear at La Bastide Rose from far and near to enjoy a meal and the beautiful surroundings.

Day Three

Itinerary: L’Isle sur la Sorgue and return to Uzes

My Aunt Rose was one of the reasons I grew to love collecting things, so I knew her daughter Judy would love L’Isle sur la Sorgue. The small town has a Sunday antique market that is well-known in this part of France. There is also a Sunday “everything” market, similar to Saturday Market in Uzes. It was a perfect last stop for our tour —  and only a few kilometers from the bastide. After our “goodbye” to Poppy, we set out to see what we could find.

In the tiny town lined with canals and shopping stalls, we walked through throngs of people and stopped only for a late lunch at one of the busy cafes. With full stomachs and happy hearts we were ready to head back to Uzes, ending our 36-hour tour of Provence.  We had “been there, done that” … and had a ball along the way!

For more information about places we visited, check out these blog posts.

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

On Van Gogh’s Trail

A Sunday in Provence: L’isle Sur la Sorgue

Friend

A Day at the Beach in Sete: That’s Life!

A day at the beach in Sete is one of my favorite things to do during the summer in France. Read on and you’ll know why.

There’s something about the air, the sand, the attitude of the people around you at the beach that’s fun and carefree. I’ve felt that way since I was a teenager spending days on the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now, instead of baking in the sun, drenched in baby oil and drinking beer, the Barefoot Blogger sits under an umbrella on the Mediterranean drinking mojitos. Spoiled. You betcha!

If you get a chance to come to the south of France and you think the Rivera is the only place by the sea to go, try Sete

beach in Sete

Sitting on the Mediterranean outside Sete, France

 

 

Look at that sky! Look at the canal!  Small boats are standing by to take people out to sea, or just around the corner.

 

 

beach in Sete

 

A Day at the Beach in Sete

One of my favorite reasons to go to Sete is to visit with friends like Nancy McGee of the travel company Absolutely Southern France. She is the “Pearl Mesta” of the 21st century. If there’s anything going on in Sete, Nancy knows about it. Plus she has the experience as a destination planner to make an ordinary day a special event. Below she is telling my guest and her daughter, McKenna, about a special rose wine from Languedoc. This one, aside from it’s crisp, fruity taste, is topped with a glass stopper — an ingenious marketing ploy for selling wine to women. The bottles of wine are available with stoppers of various colors. So women like me want to collect them. The pink, green, yellow or clear “corks” can be used to top other wine bottles as well. Clever!

 

beach in Sete

 

 

beach in Sete

Glass wine stoppers come in a variety of colors for collectors

 

Even though the temperatures were in the high 90’s, we were happy as “clams” on our soft-cushioned lounges, under beach umbrellas at the l’ACD club. We were treated like queens. Handsome young waiters and attendants were on call for beverages, snacks, or for simply adjusting our chairs when the sun shifted.

 

beach in Sete

A day on the beach in Sete

 

If being pampered on the beach isn’t enough, there’s a restaurant a stone’s throw away with the most delicious varieties of seafood you can imagine. The tuna, however, was our favorite choice of the day. Sete is known for its bluefin tuna.

 

beach in Sete

Tuna tartare at ACD restaurant on the beach outside Sete

 

 

beach in Sete

Sesame bluefin tuna at ACD restaurant on the beach outside Sete

 

Nancy, aside from her tour business, is an expert in French etiquette. This day we had a lesson on the proper way to filet a fish at the table. According to Nancy, you run a knife along both sides of the skeleton bone on the top; then along each edge. Simply lift the fileted fish off the bones. When done with this side, turn the fish over and repeat. How easy is that!

 

beach in Sete

 

Now that the day at the beach in Sete is over, it’s time to take the train to Carcassone. Never mind that we missed the train we booked! Friendly personnel on SNCF helped us “get on track” to our next destination. To read about our holiday in Carcassonne, click here.

 

beach in Sete

Train rides from Sete to Carcassonne and back.

 

 

To book the South of France Memories You Promised Yourself women’s tour with Absolutely Southern , click here

 

19548245701_7514dd9295_o

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

 

 

Who’s Got the World’s Best Oysters?

The Barefoot Blogger looked up “the World’s Best Oysters” and found a lot of answers. It’s the French, however, that believe theirs are the best … and they believe it with a passion.

The French are so passionate about their oysters, they consume more of the hard-shelled delicacies than they export. 

Along with enjoying the taste of an oyster, there’s a type of French “etiquette” about oyster eating. Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France tours and guest writer for the Barefoot Blogger’s has provided us with a guide.

The Art Of Eating An Oyster

Some Pearls of Wisdom

World's Best Oysters

World's Best Oysters

Oyster beds

Oysters farming is a thriving part of the culture and economy of the Étang de Thau (the Thau Lagoon between Sète and Bouzigues) in the Languedoc Roussillon and the picturesque town of Bouzigues produces the most sought-after oysters in Europe. That is because, due to the higher density of salt in the lagoon, they are considered much tastier than their ocean-produced counterparts.

World's Best Oysters

Bouziques, France

Even Bouzigues’ extensive oyster beds, however, are hard pressed to keep up with the worldwide demand. My theory is that the local population is consuming more than its fair share! it is not uncommon to see a glass of wine and 6 oysters consumed at the local indoor market as early in the day as breakfast

Myths and Misunderstandings

World's Best Oysters

City market oyster merchant in Sete

Oyster myths and misunderstandings abound and so I decided to educate myself by a trip to Bouzigues’ oyster museum (well worth the visit). Also I talked with local merchants and restaurant owners about oyster facts. What I learned is that not all oysters are created equal; there is quite a hierarchy. Yes, size does matter.

Oysters range in sizes from 1 to 6 or 7. Size one is the largest, yet the lowest in the taste “pecking order.” Nevertheless, baked ‘au gratin’ with parsley, garlic, butter and breadcrumbs it emerges triumphant. For the smaller, bluer-blooded relations, a size 3 or 4 simply demands to be consumed raw. Cremating them in an oven would be an unfortunate ending.

 More on that later. First, we need to know how to open – or shuck – the oyster.

Shucking an Oyster (and Leaving Your Fingers Intact)

World's Best OystersSpecial chain mail gloves are available for those wary of injuring your hands; but save your money. Instead, purchase a bottle of Languedoc white Picpoul de Pinet wine. For enjoying oysters, it’s a marriage made in heaven. It insures your oysters’ last moments are happy ones (it will still be alive, after all). Just follow these directions and shucking will prove a painless experience:

Wrap the oyster in a tea towel or cloth, the flatter shell facing upwards and the hinge pointing towards you.

Grip the oyster/shucking knife firmly and insert into the small hole located in the hinge. A short knife with a strong, blunt blade can substitute for an oyster knife.

Do not use a sharp kitchen knife. Twist the oyster knife until the shells snap apart (like turning the ignition key in a car). Then run the knife blade backwards and forwards along the upper shell in order to sever the muscle holding the two shells together.

Gently remove the top shell, taking care not to spill any of the liquid inside. It is a good idea to open the oysters over a bowl. Some people prefer to empty the liquid but to their surprise, as the oyster is alive, it will refill with water that it has been storing.

How To Savour Your Oyster

Now that you have successfully shucked your oyster, how should you eat it? Heated debate centers around this question: swallowed whole – or chewed first? No oyster aficionado would forego the subtle flavours (nut or cucumber for example, depending on season), which are released when the oyster is gently chewed.

What accompaniments should you serve with the oyster? Nothing at all, say the experts – especially given the tastiness of Bouzigues oysters.

World's Best Oysters

Oysters, French style

The North American tradition of adding horseradish or hot sauce is considered tantamount to manslaughter! However, French restaurants offer the options of simply adding a few drops of lemon or shallot vinegar, which will not detract from the natural flavours.  (Lemon originally was used to check if the oyster was alive: if alive it ‘cringes’ when the juice is applied.)

Oysters can live outside of water up to 10 days and are good travelers – producers from Bouzigues have exported their oysters all the way to China.

Oysters in water can live up to 20 years

Oysters are bisexual. Born first as males they produce sperm, then they become egg producing females and later switch back to being a male.

Oysters can release around 1 million eggs in one spawning season.

A rich source of vitamins, eating six oysters a day also meets the daily recommended intake of many minerals

What are the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster?

One in 12,000. If you were lucky enough to find one, however, the world would really be your oyster!

(Also published in France Today)

2015-03-01 18.00.56

Southern France Tour

‘Cutting the Cheese’ and More French Etiquette

‘Cutting the Cheese’ and More French Etiquette for your Southern France Tour

The Barefoot Blogger stumbles her way through France with little knowledge of the country or the language. That’s why I’m so excited that Nancy McGee, a gourmet guru, will be adding some culture to my blog, starting off with “Cheese Etiquette.”

Nancy and I met during my first visit to Sete, France through AIRBNB. She hosts guests to stay in her fabulous apartment right on the waterway. We became instant friends.

Southern France TourOn the many trips I’ve made to Sete, it has been to attend various functions with Nancy and her friends. A Canadian who has lived in France for the last 30 years, Nancy is in literally in the middle of everything in Sete.  In fact, it’s her business. She is the founder of Absolutely Southern France, a unique tourist company that specializes in offering travellers to the south of France one-of-a-kind experiences including her gourmet walking tour of Sète . Rick Steves and TripAdvisor rank her tours a top attraction!

Now that Nancy has agreed to author occasional posts for the Barefoot Blogger, you and I can take advantage of her knowledge of French cuisine, destinations and food etiquette. To find out more about Nancy and Absolutely Southern France, check out her page on Barefoot Blogger.

Now, let’s learn about ‘Cutting the Cheese’ – French style.

Cheese Etiquette – Roquefort – by Nancy McGee

Shortly after I arrived in France, I was invited as guest of honor at a dinner party for eight. I was flattered but also somewhat apprehensive as to the correct protocol. And so I dusted off my French etiquette book, which suggested simply following what the host does. It made perfect sense and worked well – up to a point, that is! Imagine my horror when I was the first to be invited to serve myself from the cheese platter. A selection of cheeses in all shapes and sizes, some familiar, others perfect strangers confronted me.

Southern France Tour

French cheese plate

Sitting imperiously in the centre of the platter the famed Roquefort and it had the air of just waiting for me to commit an error! . Numerous questions presented themselves: should I cut a piece from just one cheese or from several – and what size? In an effort to be fair I tried mentally dividing the cheeses into equal parts for the seven other guests – who by this time were wondering if I would ever pass the platter around!

Now, after over 30 years in France and any number of dinner parties, this is what I recommend when confronted with a similar dilemma: Take what you can! That platter may not come back to you and even if it does your favorite cheese might be gone. So go for it first time around! There is only one totally unacceptable error, and that is to take an entire piece of cheese. One other useful tip: if you are the host you should serve yourself last.

That is not quite the end of your troubles, however. Let us return to the Roquefort – the ‘cheese of kings and popes’ and a reputed favourite of Emperor Charlemagne. No self-respecting cheese platter in France would be without it but beware – it demands respect and is full of hazards for the unwary! Oh la la…

Southern France Tour

Roquefort and wine tasting

First a word about Roquefort. This creamy white cheese is made with sheep’s milk and injected with mould from rye bread to produce blue veins. It is then rolled in coarse salt and stored in caves in the village of Roquefort for three months. Roquefort is located at the base of a cliff that shifted long ago to create crevasses, which the cheesemakers now use as cellars . Temperatures in the cellars year round are between 8 to 10 degrees and 80 percent humidity provide the perfect conditions for producing the cheese.

Now back to the business of helping yourself to Roquefort cheese and how to avoid the two most common faux pas.

First, never serve yourself the creamy blue edge in the middle. That would be considered really bad manners, since it is the best part. (I don’t know if this is true, but my cheese merchant told me that men are the worst offenders!)

The second mistake is to cut a piece from top to bottom vertically – it isn’t fair to other guests! The person after you will get the outer slice with the mostly salty crust, while the person with the slice in the middle will have the best creamy part with the tasty mould. The proper way to cut Roquefort cheese is from the center outwards toward the rind (i.e in the shape of a triangle),

Roquefort is just an hour’s drive from Montpellier and Sète and all the Roquefort cheese in the entire world comes from this tiny village. Once there were 30 producers and today there are just 7.

For a personal cheese étiquette experience during your Southern France Tour,  join Nancy on a Gourmet Walking Tour of Sète and/or Montpellier.

As seen in France Today

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

Follow on Bloglovin

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…

san quentin la poterie

Outdoor tea room

… decorated to delightful perfection.

san quentin la poterie

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.

san quentin la poterie

Little rooms that stretch over arched walkways

 

san quentin la poterie

Mosaics along the street in San Quentin de la Poterie

 

san quentin la poterie

Narrow, colorful walkways in San Quentin la Poterie

 

san quentin la poterie

Little ladies shelling and selling almonds along the street

 

san quentin la poterie

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
Follow on Bloglovin

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Flowers and more in Pezenas' Saturday market

Flowers and more in Pezenas’ Saturday market

2013-07-06 10.33.22

2013-07-06 10.22.48

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.”

2013-07-06 12.22.29

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

2013-07-06 12.04.43

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 …

1378592_10153831864225227_1257625374_n

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.”

IMG_0252

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.

 

IMG_4321

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

IMG_4323

 

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!

 

1479300_10152070082945240_817244904_n

It’s Time to Make the Wine

It’s time to make the wine
Follow on Bloglovin

Remember the TV ad for Dunkin’ Donuts: “It’s time to make the donuts!”  It’s time to make wine in France. Unusually cool weather over the summer months caused a late grape harvest. (“La vendange”)

Vendange in Castillion-du-Gard

Vendange in Castillion-du-Gard

It was almost the last harvest of grapes for the season before I had a chance to get to a vineyard for picture-taking. As you may recall, the day I was to head up north with Geoffrey, the battery in my car gave out. (See “One Step Forward”)

As good fate would have it, I was invited to a “vendange”– grape harvest — in a vineyard near Uzes. My friend from the States was here, so it was a chance to do something fun and totally unexpected during her visit.

What to wear?

After being invited to spend the day in a vineyard., “what do you wear to a vendange” was my first thought, shared by friend Pat,

Definitely wear a hat,” we decided. Then put on something that “looks cute,” of course.

For me, I had a closet full of shirts that would do; but for Pat, she had only “precious” outfits that grape stains and mud would ruin.

With less than 24 hours to shop, we ran to a “H&M-type” store in Uzes and started our search. “Maybe something blue,” said Pat, “so it won’t show grape stains.” A blue denim shirt was there, waiting for her on the rack. “If it gets stained, “she rationalized, “I’ll just say ‘oh, that? it’s from picking grapes in France.'”  

Pat dressed in her "grape-picking in France" outfit.

Pat dressed in her “grape-picking in France” outfit.

 

The vineyard

La Gramière is a winery owned by a young American couple who started the business in 2005. They produce Grenache-based wines made from organically grown, hand-picked grapes.The vineyard is just outside Castillon-du-Gard, a tiny village near Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct.

For directionally challenged Pat and me, the vineyard for “La Gramière” winery would have been impossible to find. Thankfully a friend offered to meet us at the village square in Castillon-du-Gard . The unpaved, “backwoods” route proved it was a good thing we didn’t have to find our own way.

Arriving at the spot where we met Amy and Matt and the rest of the “pickers.” we discovered the vineyard for La Gramière is made up of several small fields scattered among a very large area of vines. The “vineyard sharing” concept is popular in France.

Amy and Mark Kling of La Gramière

Amy and Matt Kling of La Gramière

Other than Amy and Matt, there are no paid employees at the winery. They have discovered that there are plenty of volunteers who are more than happy to help harvest the crop.

The vendange

To harvest grapes you have to start early in the morning. The temperature should not be too hot . The day Pat and I volunteered, the weather was sunny and cool.

When we reached the vineyard, everyone had on their work gloves. Clippers and buckets were in their hands. Pat and I put on borrowed garden gloves and we grabbed the rest of the gear.

After brief instructions: “go two by two and pick one vine at a time,” Pat and I split up. We’d spent enough time together! Besides, there were others there we wanted to get to know.A delightful new friend from Canada and I teamed up. She is an artist and lives in Vers-Pont du Gard. We became instant buddies.

 Amy and Matt have made the vendange routine somewhat of a game.

“Who can finish first?” Taking one long row of vines at a time, we worked in three or four pairs interspersed down the row. We’d “jump over” the slower pickers. Then we’d move onto another row. It kept chit-chat with your partner down to a minimum since you had the same goal.

La Gramière vineyard

La Gramière vineyard

 

 

When grapes are ready to harvest they are bursting with juice. That means you must handle the bunch gently when you cut it off the vine.

 

Ripe grapes ready for picking

Ripe grapes ready for picking

A simple garden clipper does the trick. 

Garden clippers easily remove the cluster of grapes from the vine.

Garden clippers easily remove the cluster of grapes from the vine.

 

“Only pick the best grapes,” we were told.  Any clusters that had rotten grapes or grapes that were too green or yellow should be discarded. Amy and Matt’s philosophy is “there are plenty of grape.” They want only the “pick of the crop” for La Gramière wines.

Grape picking at La Gramière

Grape picking at La Gramière

 

I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, but I have a new appreciation for “bio” or organic wines.

Most consumer wines today are produced by companies that pick grapes with machines. I’ve seen the big machinery in the fields and observed the vines picked clean.

 

Bucket brimming with grapes ready to be sorted by hand

Bucket brimming with grapes ready to be sorted by hand

After filling our buckets, we dumped the grapes into small crates that were strategically placed among the rows of vines. Matt and helper rode through the vineyard and loaded each crate onto the back of a tractor.

Tractor filled with harvested grapes

Tractor filled with harvested grapes

 

Time for a break!

Cake and coffee brought to the vineyard by Amy’s mom, Cindy, is devoured by hungry workers

 

Mid-morning break

A couple of hours after bending over the vines and carrying our buckets to the crates for pick up, it was time for a break. The hungry crew quickly devoured the bundt cake that Amy’s mom, Cindy, baked for the occasion.

During this time of year, Amy’s mom and dad come to France from their home in Colorado to help with the harvest. A few years ago they bought a place in the village of Vers-Pont du Gard. so they could be nearby. Apparently it didn’t take much persuading to convince them to help with the business, although I will say, it’s hard work.

 

Then it’s back to the vineyard

There's a whole field of grapes. Who'll miss a few?

There’s a whole field of grapes. Who’ll miss a few?

Pat "pretending" to be busy clipping grapes

Pat “pretending” to be busy clipping grapes

Before too long,  Cindy shows up with her wagon and it’s quickly emptied with the next treat of the day. 

The lunch wagon has arrived

The lunch wagon has arrived

 

La vendange lunch

After our chores, those of us who finished early helped bring folding chairs to the table that was set up near the edge of one of the vineyards. All the accoutrements for the outdoor feast were there, including a tablecloth, which we weighed down with rocks found alongside the field. A breeze had kicked up a bit and blew slightly over the field, just enough to blow away an untethered cloth.  Soon it was time to eat!

Green salad loaded with tomatoes picked from the garden that morning; lasagna Provence-style; apricot crumble; and just enough wine to insure we could all find our way home safely.

Finishing touches are made on a fresh green salad with tomatoes straight from the garden

One of the helpers adds the finishing touches to the  green salad, piled with tomatoes  from her garden

 

01c70219737d275dc5745e78655a287bb60b9c9183

Salad with garden tomatoes

 

Lasagna Provence-style

Lasagna Provence-style

 

Apricot crumble

Apricot crumble

 

01fae76ccdb3a7e030bed121e284ad71fcc6005c25

Now I know why Amy and Matt never have to look far to find helpers for their harvest. Mom’s a fabulous “chef,” plus, the company and atmosphere are hard to beat.

After a leisurely lunch,  those of us on the work crew packed up and went home. For Amy and Matt, their long day of sorting grapes by hand was just beginning.

To read more about Amy and Matt and the La Gramière wines, click here to visit their blog. 

10268482_10154143941420717_6623823705173085694_n

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Follow on Bloglovin

Anyone who knows me well recognizes that I’m “directionally challenged.” Compared to my recent visitor from the States, I’m  “Amelia Earhart” — and we know how that worked out.

When I learned my hometown friend, whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years, was coming to visit me in Uzes, right away I started planning her trip. One that we’d both enjoy. For sure, I couldn’t go back to Nimes and Pont du Gard. Been there, done that, too many times. An over-night stay in a bastide in the Luberon sounded like a good idea. That, along with a few day trips from Uzes would give her an overview of this region of France and it would give us both a taste of Provence during a time of year when there are not so many tourists.

For our road trip to Provence,  my friend Pat brought along her Rick Steves’ guide book. I had an overview summary of the Luberon’s “golden triangle” that was given to me by a friend. We bought a map of Provence the day we started our journey. Basically the plan was to drive to L’isle Sur la Sorgue for the antique market on Sunday, then back to Uzes.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we’d “explore” Gordes, Goult, Lacoste, Menerbes, and Roussillon. If there was time, we’d drive into Aix en Provence.

The route from Uzes to Gordes is through Avignon, about 65 kilometers. Driving to the villages we’d pinpointed would be like riding in a circle: 30 kilometers around.. Towns are very close together.

 

Map of Luberon Route

Map of Luberon Route

Sounds easy enough, right? Not!

Even Rick Steves says “you’re going to get lost”. 

 

Uzes to Avignon

That was easy. I knew the way. I’ve traveled back and forth to the train station in Avignon several times.

Leaving Avignon was when the problems started.

Pat unfolded the map of Provence for the first time. We’d been too busy talking to think about it before now.

“Oh, look, a map!” said Pat, as if surprised to find it on her lap.  “Guess this is what we brought it for,” she declared.

Probably a good idea to take a look now,” says I.

With that, my small friend unfolded the huge map which quickly consumed her and her side of the car. (Did I mention Pat is 5’2″ compared to my 5’9″? We’re the real “Mutt and Jeff” duo.)

Pat,” I exclaimed. “I can’t see!”

Pulling over to the side of the road we folded the map together into a size that Pat could manage in one hand.

The road to  L’isle Sur la Sorgue was the best route on the map. However, we’d been there two days before. So, we decided to try another way.

Big mistake! Every road we took went back to Avignon.

After an hour and a half circling Avignon, I said: “Wonder if we can find the route on my iPad on Mapquest?”

If you’re thinking “why didn’t they have a GPS?” let me explain. Remember the saga of the lost iPhone?After I found that the iPhone was in the back seat of Lucy — not in the trash bin or stolen — I returned to SFR in Nimes several times to fix various problems. The last visit was Monday, the day before our trip to the Luberon. That’s when the nice SFR guy that speaks English discovered the iPhone is broken. He sent it off to be repaired and gave me a Google phone. It didn’t dawn on me to load Mapquest on the substitute phone. Making a phone call was hard enough. Besides, we were only going 100 kilometers away. 

Mapquest came up on the iPad. Even though there was limited reception, we had a map and a dot to follow. (I won’ tell you how long it took us to figure out which dot was “Lucy” and which dot was our “destination.”)

Gordes

Market day in Gordes, which was the first destination on our trip plan, was almost over by the time we reached the village.  

 

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

 

 

 

IMG_2975

 

 

 

IMG_2978

 

 

 

IMG_2982

Shopping was not so much on our minds as finding a place to eat lunch. Tourists filled up most of the spaces in the restaurants and cafes.

Cafe in Gordes

Cafe in Gordes

 

 

Crowded cafe in Gordes

Crowded cafe in Gordes

We ended up in an out-of-the-way cafe where we weren’t expecting much, but to our delight …

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

 

Caesar salad Provence style

Caesar salad Provence style

 

How can you miss having a great meal in Provence? 

Luberon Villages at a Glance

With the villages of the Luberon so close together, the look and feel of each begin to blend together — especially when you’re lost.  These photos will give you a view of the towns and the countryside as we saw it — wherever it is. 

Road leading to Gordes

Road leading to Gordes

 

 

 Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial

Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial commemorating the strength of the resistance army.

 

 

 

IMG_2977

 

 

 

Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

 

 

 

Villages with churches as the main attraction

Villages with churches as the main attraction

 

 

 

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

 

 

 

Views that take your breath away

Views that take your breath away

 

 

 

010ffe05cf5d18724ecf03b120531ac781b85250f0

Hilltops and valleys

 

 

 

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

 

 

 

IMG_2996

Colorful villages paved with stone walkways and roads

 

 

 

IMG_2997

 

 

 

Architectural details from an ancient past

Architectural details from an ancient past

 

 

 

014d8594e40edae386987593b5af3ec7d238362d9e

 

 

 

Winding roads that go from village to village

Winding roads that go from village to village

 

 

 

Next stop: The Red Hills of Roussillon

IMG_3013

 

 

10423307_750342271675631_120928769151590998_n

A Sunday in Provence: L’isle Sur la Sorgue

Follow on Bloglovin

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

 

 

IMG_2873

Cafes and market vendors lined the sides of the canal

 

 

 

IMG_2872-001

 

 

IMG_2934

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

 

 

IMG_2896

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

 

015a29f87330522f996afec8870f801c0654d50108

 

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. 

 

IMG_2840

 

IMG_2825

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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!

 

 

10432476_786939368044438_5705037340572173714_n

//

%d bloggers like this: