Tag: shopping

Les Mardis Nocturnes D’Uzes

There’s a party going on every Tuesday night, right under my window. Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes. I’m not complaining. It’s vendors with jewelry, leather goods, wine and, of course, there are musicians.

Nothing compares with the Saturday or Wednesday markets  in Uzes. Yet these Tuesday events, clearly for tourists, have the added attraction of a nighttime ambiance in the Place des Duche.

Tuesday market at the Place de Duche, Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Zumba in Uzes

The event runs from 6-11pm and starts off with Zumba.The Zumba sessions are led by a local class and visitors are welcome to join in.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Soon the marketplace is busy with people.  By night it’s loud and filled with music and happy sounds.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

Later, musicians take center stage at the Mairie (town hall).

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Candy and nougat

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Jewelry vendors with handmade necklaces, bracelets and more

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepes made on the spot

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepe making with either Nutella or the buttery sugar variety are favorites.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Silver jewelers add initials to bracelets and necklaces

 

 

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Balloons are for kids here in France, too.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Dogs are well-behaved

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes Handmade head dresses are modeled by beautiful young women.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

 

No matter how I try to stay in on Tuesday nights, I just can’t miss  Les Mardes Nocturnes D’Uzes. Who could blame me?

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Scarves on sale blow in the summer night’s breeze.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Ruins of the city walls look over Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

For more about Uzès visit here

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expat tips

Expat Tips: Nothing Is Easy About Moving To France

A new Barefoot Blogger friend is moving to Uzes and wants some expat tips. Just like me, she’s tossing away most of her worldly possessions in the US and she’s starting all over in France.

There are a few things I learned my first year here that seem to be helpful to my friend. Things that were real challenges.

Like bedding.  Bedding is something I just couldn’t  seem to understand. First there’s choosing a mattress. There are more configurations and iterations that you want to know. Just when I got that figured out, there were the sheets, pillows and other confusions.

Picky-picky.  Yes, I know I’m picky. Finding the right sized linen for a bed seemed to be important. I should have thought about that when I purchased the two 80x200cm beds instead of 90×190 for the guest room. Who knew there are no linens to fit. The guy that sold them to me certainly must not have known I’d have these problems. Or maybe he did. I couldn’t understand everything he was telling me in French.
Fitted sheet: Housse  The Conforama store in Nimes where I shopped had a bedding section that seemed to answer my prayers. Good thing because the Castorama store was a bust. (“Rama” is a popular store name, apparently) Conforama had fitted sheets for 80x200cm beds! See for yourself. The package says: 2 x 80×200.

expat tips

There was even an illustration of two beds. Voila! I was beginning to figure it out. Since the beds are meant to be pulled together to make a queen-sized bed, they must sell the sheets together.

I could hardly wait to get home to make up the beds. Not so fast.  The fitted sheets were sewn together in a section down the middle to fit the queen bed! Now what did I do? I cut the housse in half! So what if there are raw edges. My guests would  never know!

Duvet: Couette Never learned French, never owned a duvet. Two pitfalls for living in France.

Duvets have never been my thing. To me, here’s something untidy about a bed that’s not tightly put together. (Reexpat tipsmember, my mother was a nurse.) Therefore, the joy of stuffing a duvet into it’s cover is an art I never mastered. Like learning to speak French. Here duvets are the norm. Top sheets are not. So to make up a bed properly in France, I had to convert.

Duvet cover: Housse de couette. Like other bed linens, the couette and the housse de couette come in a gazillion sizes and permutations. Amazingly, I chose the correct size for the two guest room beds. Slipping the couette into the housse de couette was a breeze. Especially because there’s a tiny slit in each side of the housee de couette. Right at the top. It allows you to stick you hand in to grab the end of the couette. Perhaps the American version of duvets have a similar design. If not, the French have something on us.


Oreiller vs. Traversin.  
OK. Another head-scratcher. An “oreiller” is an ordinary pillow. Easy enough even though they are all shapes and sizes. It’s the an odd-shapeexpat tipsd “pillow” named “traversin” that’s a puzzlement.

I’ve seen similar in the States, but they’re everywhere here. The most common size is like the big one shown in this picture. The smaller ones I bought from the same man that sold me the beds. Maybe when he told me I wouldn’t find sheets for the 80cm beds he also mentioned the same problem for a small-sized traversin.

The large one you can decorate quite nicely with ribbons and bows on the ends.

The smaller ones you hide under a stack of pillows so the edges don’t show. Yes, I cut a large traversin cover (taie) in half.

If you’re thinking of moving to France, I hope these photos and descriptions of bedding you might encounter are helpful. If you wanted to know a few obscure but important words in French, I hope you’re pleased. For others who just like to hear about the trials of an American expat in France who speaks no French, you see why nothing’s easy!

Expat tips: It’s so worth it!  

expat tips

expat tips

Fall … In Love With Provence

The Barefoot Blogger’s mid-week drive into Provence inspired some stunning photos to share. This time of year brings out my very favorite colors in the crayon box.

Fall in Provence

Fall in Provence

Plane trees along the drive into Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

Outside Lourmarin

 

 

Fall in Provence

Bonnieux

 

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Roussillon

 

Fall in Provence

 

 

Fall in Provence

 

Thanks to the friends who help color my world. 

Fall in Provence

Rich and Paula in Roussillon along with new Barefoot Blogger friend, Aggie.

Note: Most photos picture Roussillon

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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!

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Just Another Summer Tuesday Night in Uzes

The Barefoot Blogger is getting a bit blasé, I’m afraid, about all the activity below my apartment windows on Tuesday nights.

I mean, there are only market vendors with jewelry, food and all sorts of handiwork. There’s a bit of music and, of course, tango dancing at the Mairie (town hall). Sounds boring, right?

NOT!!!

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

 

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Tango dancing at the Mairie on Tuesdays brings together dance lovers and tango club members from near and far.

 

 

 

Dancers swirl to their favorite tango music in this beautiful setting in the center of Uzes.

 

 

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

 

 

 

 

Wandering around the plaza gave me a chance to stop by for a short visit with one of my favorite artists. (More about Marie and her work coming soon!)

 

 

 

 

There’s always something new to try from the weekly vendors. l’Aligot de l’Aubrac is a mixture of cheese, heavy cream and potato stirred up in a huge pot. It’s served here with grilled sausage and onions.Yum!

 

 

 

 

Not bad for a summer Tuesday night in the neighborhood….

 

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

 

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

As you know, Saturday is the Barefoot Blogger’s favorite day in Uzes. It’s market day!

When I headed out the door the first thing I heard was music in the plaza…

Just around the corner …

 

… and there’s more!

 

Just in time for Father’s Day …

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“My mother is terrible, my father is a genius, and me … I like them!!

 

A carnival in town

A carnival in town

 

... and sidewalk cafes filled to the brim...

… and sidewalk cafes filled to the brim…

 

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12 Things You’ll Miss in France This Year

The Barefoot Blogger’s “Must” Hit List
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In case you haven’t heard, this is the year to visit France. The euro to US dollar is at a twelve-year low. If you don’t already have your bags packed, here are a few things you’ll surely miss staying at home.

#1

Sunset on the French Rivera

Sunset on the French Rivera

 

#2

 

Un-shuttered windows and flowerpots

Un-shuttered windows and pots with bright flowers

 

#3

 

Narrow, winding, ancient village streets

Narrow, winding, ancient streets

 

#4

 

Morning breaking over stone skycaps

Morning breaking over stone skyscapes

 

#5

 

Vineyards and poppies and chateaus  with tile roofs

Vineyards and poppies and chateaus with tile roofs

 

#6

 

Bright lights on sparkling water

Brilliant lights and sparkling waters

 

#7

 

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Quiet walks on sleepy canals

 

 

#8

 

Finding wonder through peepholes

Finding wonder through peepholes

 

#9

 

Music in the streets

Music in the streets

 

#10

 

Busy sidewalks and Saturday Markets

Sidewalk cafes and Saturday Markets

 

#11

 

Majestic cathedrals

Majestic cathedrals

 

 

HISTORY

HISTORY

Where will it be?

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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

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

Uzes at Christmas: Revisited

Uzes at Christmas: Revisited
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As much as I like to travel to new places and visit again with family I love, I miss my new home in France over the holidays.

Revisit these memorable moments with me from Christmas in the beautiful village of Uzes, France.

 

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Just one of the narrow streets filled with shops and cafes that are decorated to celebrate Christmas in the beautiful village of Uzes, France.

 

Bobo French fashions at Atelier des Ours are extra-special at Christmas

Bobo French fashions at Atelier des Ours are extra-special at Christmas

 

Love the gifts of Provence from this local shop

Love the gifts of Provence from this local shop

 

Macaroons at Christmas Market Uzes. Need I say more?!

Macaroons at Christmas Market Uzes. Need I say more?!

 

Musicians caroling on the sidewalks help create a oldtime holiday mood

Musicians caroling on the sidewalks help create a old time holiday mood

 

The neighborhood wine store and flower shop is decked for all holiday occasions

The neighborhood wine store and flower shop is decked for all holiday occasions

 

Table toppers and other festive decorations fill store windows at Atzana

Table toppers and other festive decorations fill store windows at Atzana

 

Gifts for the season -- galore!

Gifts for the season — galore!

 

Potter at San Quentin La Poterie during Holiday Exhibit

Potter at San Quentin La Poterie during Holiday Exhibit

 

Favorite dress shops are decked with their finest

Favorite dress shops are decked with their finest

 

At wine tastings there's a party going on!

At wine tastings there’s a party going on!

 

Chestnuts roasting at holiday markets

Chestnuts roasting at holiday markets

 

All wait for the Holiday Parade

All wait for the Holiday Parade

 

Saint Nicolas makes his appearance wishing all a 'Joyeux Noël'

Saint Nicolas makes his appearance wishing all a ‘Joyeux Noël’

 

‘Joyeux Noël’ to my friends in France!

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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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Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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Hilltops and valleys

 

 

 

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

 

 

 

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Colorful villages paved with stone walkways and roads

 

 

 

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Architectural details from an ancient past

Architectural details from an ancient past

 

 

 

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Winding roads that go from village to village

Winding roads that go from village to village

 

 

 

Next stop: The Red Hills of Roussillon

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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

 

French Bobo Fashion for Fall: A New Look from Long Ago

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As published in France Today

There’s a dress shop in the village square of my adopted home in France where finding what’s new in fall fashions takes you back a century or two.

A visit to the store reminds you of rummaging through your grandmother’s closet, or uncovering an old trunk that’s filled with brown tweed jackets and checkered woolen blankets from somebody’s past.

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You walk through the front door of L’Atelier des Ours and hear jingle bells tingling behind you. When you look down at the sand covered, tile floor, it’s hard to know exactly why you’re there. Yet you have to take only a few steps to discover there’s something special in this tiny place, waiting to be discovered.

 

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L’Atelier des Ours, translated “the teddy bear’s workshop”, caters to a unique clientele of European women, mostly from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

The style of clothing, shoes and accessories they purchase in the shop can be called “bobo”,”bourgeois bohème”, or “bohème chic”. The look isn’t for everyone, but for those who define themselves by these flash-back fashions, it is irresistible.

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David Brooks, New York Times columnist, identified and named “bobos” in his book, “Bobos in Paradise,” published in the year 2000. Quoting from his review of his own book, Brooks says about bobos: “These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemian. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are bobos.”

According to Brooks, bobos are identified by having “rebel attitudes and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together.”
Helen Bonham Carter, actress and wife of Tim Burton, is the poster child for extreme “bobo” dressing with her unconventional style. The Olsen twins’ non-conformist, bohème fashions could be considered “bobo” — somber colored, layered, and heavily laden with scarves.

For the bobo chic who shop at L’Atelier des Ours — in the store and online — the style is neither “hippy”, nor dull and frumpy, nor make-believe. It is elegant, eccentric, and smart. In fact it is so “smart” that it takes an understanding of each piece of clothing to put together the perfect outfit.

Start with a ruffled organza petticoat

A multi-ruffled organza petticoat is the basic element of “bobo chic” for daytime. Add a tee-shirt that’s delicately fringed around the top and cover it with a dotted swiss tunic. Wrap it all in a soft pewter sweater and shawl; pull on cotton stockings and mary jane shoes; and voilà!
A simple little dress and scarf

Grab one of the dresses with tiny stripes or granny checks off the rack. Slip on an crinkled organdy petticoat underneath (not to be confused with “organza” which is netting). Swirl a matching scarf around your neck; a floppy handbag over your shoulder; and there, you have a dashing afternoon ensemble.

Smocks, frocks and pantaloons

Heavy cotton smocks and baggy linen pantaloons are the mainstays of a “bobo” wardrobe for all types of occasions. Worn with a woolen shawl and crocheted beret you’re off to market. Add a long, flannel, three-button jacket with knee-high, black boots and you’re ready for cold weather.

Poplin dresses and taffeta skirts

When visiting L’Atelier des Ours, I can never leave without trying on one of the “fantasy” dresses and ruffled skirts.
Picture a very pale gray, ankle-length, crushed poplin dress with a scooped neckline and long crinkled sleeves. Below the hemline of the dress are layers and layers of off-white ruffles showing off from the taffeta skirts worn underneath. To complete the fairy-tale costume, a lushiously soft scarf is tied loosely around the neck and shoulders.

I feel like a princess.

Another place and time

Around my little village the “bobo chic” ladies are easy to sight. Occasionally, I put on my checkered frock, tee-shirt and pantaloons and join them among the crowd of towns people and tourists. No one stops and stares.

Fall and winter 2014 bobo style is neither glitzy nor glamorous. It’s more like comfort food and a warm fireplace. A new look from long ago. A different attitude. A way of life.

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Fashion elements for “bobo chic”

A short list of the items that “bobos” stock in their wardrobe doesn’t vary much by season, just by color and weight.

Loose, layered clothing made of natural fabrics
Smocks, tunics, loose trousers, pantaloons
Ruffles, organdy, and lace petticoats
Stapped shoes, boots, and sandals
Mixing patterns of prints and flowers
Simple or no jewelry
Basic-colored scarves in a variety of soft fabrics
Lacy bloomers
Simple tee-shirts, long and short sleeved
Sweaters, wraps, jackets and long coats

For a virtual visit of L’Atelier des Ours, visit the website and catalogue. Better yet, treat yourself with a stop at the store in Uzes, France.

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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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French Fashion for Summer: Bobo Chic Style

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original_411433__L51bZZIfra_ZNZaTxDkpaZE1There’s a magical space

just steps from my door

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with Teddy Bears,

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

Teacups,

and Flowers

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

Galore.

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 

 

Button-eyed dogs with long floppy ears,

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 

Stuffed Rabbits, 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 Baby Slippers ,

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

…  and  more,

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 Live together, in Harmonyimages

 

 

Of one accord.

 

 

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  I mean, can you imagine?

 

Rompers …

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

… and rooms filled with Lace,

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

… Dresses and Petticoats,

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France  

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

All in one place?

 

 

 

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Perhaps Pinocchio makes all the rules?

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 … so that Ruffles and Skirts,

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

… Ribbons on Hats 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

… and Frilly Night Shirts

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

… are Here …

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

… where Time 

 

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

… stands Still.

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

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L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France
L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

 

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A return to the Romance Era of French fashion is not a dream. It is alive and more appealing than ever for summer. Thanks to L’Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France for the inspiration for this post on Bohemian Chic style. 

L'Atelier des Ours in Uzes, France

For more information on L’Atelier des Ours, visit the blog and Pinterest. 

Does anyone wonder why I love France? Am Living in France? Love the Fashion in France?

 

 

On the Road with Sally: Behind the Scenes

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The first day out on the road with “Sally”  needs a bit more of an explanation than was offered in the previous post.  You see, nothing about my new life in France is as easy as it seems.

photoAs you may remember from this summer’s blogs, my friend Geoffrey kindly loaned “Ales”, the tattered Citroen, to me for road trips out of Uzes. Sadly for him, he mentioned I might get to use his red Mustang with racing stripes when I returned in the Spring.

Arriving back in Uzes, I reminded Geoffrey of his offer. Often. Finally we worked out a “loan” agreement.  Geoffrey had stuff in his house he want to sell and I wanted stuff for my new apartment. I wanted a car, he had more than one.  It seemed to be working out great for both of us.

Sally has an interesting background. Before I go on, let me tell you about Sally’s past. She was given to Geoffrey by a wealthy man who owned her. He also bestowed to my friend another almost identical Mustang. They both are red with racing stripes. One difference between the two cars is the size of the engines. Sally has four cylinders, her twin has six.

The other difference is that the Sally’s twin Mustang is being held hostage. Whereabouts unknown. 

A bargain is a bargain.

Part of my loan agreement for Sally was that I would help find her twin sister. That meant going with Geoffrey to a meeting with the “bailiff” to sort out the issues surrounding the missing Mustang.

On the day of the meeting I walked to the bailiff’s office by myself. It’s in a two-story building that shares a driveway with the second-hand store I’ve shopped in a lot, so I knew where I was going. I had noticed the open-staircase structure the first time I visited the “brocante” store. Its architecture is totally out of character in this French provincial town. It looks like a 1970’s-style motel.

Before I got far down the driveway, Geoffrey called to me from the balcony of the building’s second floor. I walked up the metal steps and into the open door of the office. Strangely, I felt like I was on the film set of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. It was all a bit “shady” — the surroundings and the people inside.

Rather than spoil the plot for a great mystery novel, I stop here. Let’s just say we thought the deed was done.

Strings attached, with knots

The visit to the bailiff’s office was three weeks ago. Still no word on the missing car.

So last week, tired of waiting to get on the road, I told Geoffrey I was taking Sally. In fact, “she’s staying with me from now ’til April”, I announced. He agreed and handed me Sally’s keys.

We were off. Stopping at the nearest gas station to fill her up, I pumped petrol into Sally’s empty tank. I just had to pay for the gas and we’d be on our way.

Not so quick.

The lady behind the register at the gas station started ringing up the sale. She looked outside at Sally. She looked at me. Instead of handing me the reader for my credit card, she pulled a slip of paper out of the drawer. An unpaid bill for 95 euros.

I gasped and said, “I don’t know nuthin.”

She politely announced she was calling the police.

Now, picture this. This discussion is going on between me — who speaks no French — and a lady at the counter who speaks no English. Fortunately a couple of men waiting in line were able to help translate our conversation.

Quickly considering my two choices:1) run, or 2) or pay the bill. I handed over my credit card to pay the 95 euros. Starting off my three-year adventure in France with an encounter with the French gendarme isn’t exactly in my game plan.

Later, returning to Geoffrey’s to re-negotiate the terms of the loan of the car, we now have a new agreement. Sally’s mine until June.

Off we go, guardly

Wait … there’s more.

You see, before I adopted Sally, she was in an accident and a burglary. When her radio was “burgled”, the robber came through the driver’s side window. Now the window won’t go up or down. That means every time I come into or out of my gated, underground parking lot, I have to put on the emergency brake; open my door; wrench my body around to swipe the parking pass on the automated “eye”; hope the garage gate will open; close the car door; buckle the seat belt;  release the brake; then take off.

As a result of the accident, Sally is sporting a spare tire. That takes us back to the story about the trip to Saint Jean du Gard.

2013-11-05 09.36.02Sally and I were raring to go. Admittedly, I was a bit concerned about taking a trip — albeit only 45 kilometers away — on a spare tire. Fortunately I ran into my friend Andy on Sunday. He had gone with me a few weeks ago to pick up my shipment of boxes from Marseilles.  He offered to take his van on the site seeing trip, instead of taking a chance with Sally on the road. Stubbornly I stuck with my plan to take her for the drive.

Luckily, there were no car mishaps along the road to Saint Jean du Gard. Andy knew he was indispensable as my road mechanic and he took full charge, giving road tips and warnings to slow down.

Sally handles like a dream. She hugs the narrow, curvy, back roads of France like a born racer.

Just wait ’til we get her “big girl” tire.

Ride Sally, ride.

My Name is Deborah

For years I’ve wondered if I should be called “Deborah”, not ” Debby”. It seems like “Deborah” is a name more fitting to my age.

Now that I’m in FrancDeborah, the Barefoot Bloggere, I think I will switch. The French don’t get “Debby”. They say: “DeeDee” or “BeeBee.” Also, taking a new name when I’m trying to “hide out ” among the locals seems appropriate. “Hide out” is a joke, of course. At 5’10” tall and with blonde hair, I hardly look French. Plus, the new clothes I’ve fallen for — all ruffles and flowers–are definitely tourist duds.

In spite of looking and acting like a tourist, I’ve begun to make friends here. Mostly, because I was fortunate to meet one very special and talented lady, Unity. I met her a few days ago at the “popup” gallery on the main avenue of town where she is exhibiting her artwork. We hit it off immediately.

Unity the artist and friend in Uzes, FranceSince meeting Unity, I have been introduced to several of her friends, mostly British ex-pats like Unity and her husband, Tom.

One of the new acquaintances, in particular, has made quite an impression on me. The most eccentric “Geoffrey”. The first time I met Geoffrey was at Unity’s gallery. He was wearing an extremely broad, black beret. Even though it was close to 90 degrees in the shade that day, he also had on a black suit, black vest and tie, and a crisp white shirt. Around his neck, huge headphones were hanging down, tuned to Led Zeppelin, he said.

We didn’t strike up a conversation that day, but we ran into each other the next day, again at Unity’s. This time he was decked out in a dapper pinstriped suit and a canary yellow shirt and yellow straw hat. He said he has over 60 hats. I’ll have to admit, I was enthralled with his flamboyance.

Friend in Uzes, France

That day Geoffrey, Unity and I had time to chat a bit. Soon we were carrying on like old friends. The conversation came around to their suggesting places I should visit during the rest of my stay in the south of France. Geoffrey offered to let me drive his car to nearby Nimes where he would give me a guided tour of the city. The invitation seemed perfectly ok and safe to me, especially because of his friendship with Unity.

He then invited me to join him on a short walk from the art gallery to his home so that he could check his schedule. I said “yes” knowing that Unity was expecting us both back at the gallery shortly. Geoffrey had committed to taking photos of her paintings.

So off we went, down the wide, stoned-paved alleyway to Geoffrey’s house. it was less than two blocks away. When we arrived at his four-story stone house, Geoffrey stopped to point out the posters that were plastered on both sides of the front door. He explained he had put them there as a ruse. The place was supposed to look abandoned, or lived in by gangs, “to ward off intruders,” he said.

It sort-of worked. It did look unpretentious. But then he opened the door. I was first surprised, then amused. I had walked into Goldielocks’ cottage!

Friend in Uzes, France

The front room was a big kitchen with a large table, chairs and big wooden hutch with glass doors. Inside the hutch and hanging on almost every inch of the walls was one of the most delightful and collectible assortments of pottery and china I had ever seen– outside of an antique shop.

It was then I learned where this interesting person had come from. Geoffrey is a retired professor from Oxford. His specialty was pottery and ceramic arts. I almost melted in my tracks. Pottery and china collecting is my passion.

For nearly an hour I toured through Geoffrey’s home, viewing his life’s collection of art and ceramics. He showed me rare platters made from a unique type of clay found only near Uzes. I saw magnificent majolica pieces and early flow blue china. Some of his most prized possessions are family pictures, including one photo that particularly struck me. It was a picture of his grandmother — a showgirl in the early 1900’s — dressed in her show business finery. i knew at once where Geoffrey got his flair.

But wait… it gets better than that. Geoffrey’s grandmother married a circus lion tamer. Now, that’s a story I’ve got to dig into.

Today’s best sound byte

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