Saturday, February 28, 2009
My blogger friend, Jientje, read Friday's blog entry and took pity on my whining about not having pictures from my favorite Provencal markets. She emailed me these to share with you. The first two are from Isle sur l"Sorgue where Jientje goes on holiday every summer. She and her husband rent the same place in Isle each summer and spend their vacation exploring the Luberon You can see some of the antique and brocante on display
The market winds along narrow side streets as
well as lining the banks of the Sorgue River. At full swing, the crowds are thick...one reason to go early even if it is Sunday!
This is Coustellet.
It's a much smaller market and more shopper friendly, I think. Look at those sunflowers! Arent' they gorgeous? My B & B hostess, Dani, always shops this Saturday morning market for her weekly groceries.
Do go visit Jientje at her blog, Heaven in Belgium. It's one of my very favorites; she always has beautiful photos to share.
Don't these ancient stones and narrow passageways just cry out "write my story?" Can you feel the ghosts and spirits of times past lurking in the shadows, whispering their secrets in your ear? Another of my favorite things about Provence is the writings of those people who have heard 'the stories,' and put them into poetry and prose. Paris and its sidewalk cafes are usually the places that are said to inspire great literary and philosophical thought. Think Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I found Paris too distracting, however, to be conducive to writing. Provence, on the other hand, inspired me...and many others. Obviously, anyone interested in Provence needs to read Peter Mayle, but there are others that I've found fascinating as well. Try "Provencal Cooking" by Mary Ann Caws or "Strangers in Paradise" by Paul Christensen for a very literary look at Provence. I've become intrigued with Provencal writers as well. Marcel Pagnol is on my 'to read' list after seeing the films based on his novels. And I'm currently reading the poet, Rene Char. Don't ask me to explain his poems; I'm still working hard at understanding them myself! But they evoke Provence in every line.
For me, sitting outside at Cafe de la Poste became an inspiration. My travel journal is filled with snippets of character sketches based on the villagers I watched go about their daily lives in Goult. I watch the village wake up while I sip my cafe creme. Madame X was just in. She's 'of a certain age' dressed in a chic cream sweater and long black skirt that sways as she walks with her cane. Mostly for looks? she seems to walk just fine. A quick petit cafe, some conversation with the locals at the bar and off she goes speaking softly to her little fluffy white dog, I'll call her "Lulu," and a bigger black mongrel, "Pierre." Across the square, disappearing down the tiny street into a 3-story stone house with soft blue shutters drawn on the east against the bright Provencal sun. Madame may be back this evening--a pastis, perhaps? or a petit balloon of rouge?
Writing about Provence...#21 on my list of favorite things.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I just love Parisian flower shops...enough so that they are # 19 on my list of favorite things. Everytime I pass the dreary (and expensive!) flowers in my grocery store, I sigh and long for Paris. Beautiful flowers, reasonable prices, an awesome selection, and shops on every street...no wonder the French are so content with their lives!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I've blogged about favorite things #17 & 18 before, so just a brief mention here. I love the street musicians of Paris! This is Borsalino playing in the arcade around Place de Vosges in the Marais. They're a jazz group in the style of Django Reinhardt. I bought a CD to remember them by. On weekends you find musicians and performers all over central Paris performing for donations...a few coins, perhaps you'll buy a CD? I think I was most amazed to find performers in the halls of the Metro. Imagine 'rounding a corner deep underground as you rush to your Metro stop and coming upon a stringed octet playing classical music...awesome.
The churches of Paris offer a wealth of musical entertainment. Visit Notre Dame or St. Germain-des-Pres at Vespers and listen to the great pipe organs. Or arrive a bit early to hear the organists practicing. Sit down in the worship area, close your eyes. The crowds and tourist noise will melt away and the great organs will carry your thoughts heavenward! Churches are frequently the site of concerts as well. Your admission price supports not only the musicians, but also helps with the upkeep of these ancient buildings. And the music is sublime!
Street music and church music....#17 & 18 on my list of favorite things to do in Paris.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
What is La Grande Epicerie, you ask? Only the coolest grocery store I've ever seen! It is so worth a trip if you're visiting Paris even if you don't intend to buy groceries. Oh come on...buy a bottle of wine or a luscious chunk of chocolate! I've never seen anything like the cheese counter, the deli meat counter, the bread department. Word to the wise....don't forget to weigh your produce BEFORE you get to the check out person. That's the way you do it in France and the check out girl will not be happy if you don't comply!
Okay...I googled 'powdered vanilla' and you can buy it several places on line. That's not nearly as much fun as it is to pick it up while you wander the Sunday market in Isle or find it while you check out the well-dressed Parisians at La Grande Epicerie! I'll ration mine out until I can get back to France!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Goult and doors....numbers #11 and # 12 on my list of favorites. If you like doors, check out these on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhh/sets/72157600156909115/
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Here are some places to visit on the Internet for more information:
Bateaux Parisien...pictures & music to get you in the mood!
Enjoy your cruise!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Here is the very best way to travel outside Paris...the TGV. (tay-zha-vay--soft 'g' as in 'genre'). This picture from Google shows the bullet trains lined up ready to zip you around France at an astounding speed of 200mph! You have to make a reservation, and I recommend making a first class one; the extra money is well spent. The train is fast, comfortable, and quiet. Cell phones are prohibited except in specially designated places. First class seats are plush. The train stations are well-organized and easy to use, even for someone who doesn't speak French. Here's my question: why don't we have this kind of rapid transportation system in the United States??? Truly, I'd never drive or fly again.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Today I made arrangements with an American woman living in Provence to buy a font from her antique/brocante business. I'm beginning my own collection! She visited my blog, I visited her website, and soon I'll be the proud owner of a 19th century piece of Provence. It should arrive the end of the month, and I'll make sure I do a blog posting on it complete with a picture. For now, know that these pretty antiques are my # 7 favorite things about Paris and Provence.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Drum roll here....favorite thing # 4 is French wine! I consider wine one of the major food groups and tasted as many yummy wines as I could on my trips to France.One night in September at Le Bistrot de Paris, my dinner companions and I shared an $85 bottle of Pouilly Fume that was wonderful. I've sipped roses across Provence. But my very favorite French wine is the one I'm toasting with here in Patrick's tiny upstairs kitchen....a lovely red wine called Cahors. It's specific to the Lot region of the Dordogne and is made by only a few families there. I first read about it in Michael Sanders' book "Families of the Vine," which follows wine families of this region as they work their vineyards and produce their wines. I don't have an educated wine palate, so I can't describe this wine in terms of the subtle flavors in it. I can tell you that it's big and bold and almost black in color. It holds up deliciously against the most complex and richly flavored foods. The best thing about it is...I can actually buy it in Des Moines! A bit pricier than it was in Paris and Provence, but still a very special treat.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
**mais bien sur--a common French phrase meaning 'but of course.'
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
"This book has been written to portray the liberation of France....to give our Allies essential information about the country they liberated. May this book, dedicated to those who played a part in making our country free, remind our Allies of those terrible--and glorious--days. May it be accepted as a token of gratitude and appreciation for the decisive part they have played in the history of France."
It's signed "COFBA Franco-Allied Goodwill Commitee."
The first 25 pages are, indeed, about the liberation of France. Then comes another introductory page...
"You have seen France in the joy of liberation, you have seen her in the midst of war, you have seen the results of her suffering from four years of enemy occupation and pillage: but you have not seen the real France. The following pages will give you an idea of what France was before the war, and what she will be once more, when you come back on a visit."
I've heard so many people complain that France never appreciated what the Allies did for her. I think this little book proves that those people are dead wrong. I'm proud to share it with you.