24 June 2009

We "slept in" today until almost 8 a.m. We both awoke tired and sore but happy to be there. After a long, hot shower, we went to the nearby boulangerie for pastries and coffee. The pastries were good, but the coffee was from a European coffee machine. These machines are pretty complex but they brew a decent cup of coffee for €0.80. Not as good as from a barista, but better than most anything you will find in the US. Jackie had a quiche Lorraine, which was tasty, if a little too moist for my liking.

Today is Market Day in St. Remy. Market days in Provence are different from the weekly Farmers Markets that we have started getting in the US in recent years. Since France doesn't really have the overwhelming presence of large superstores like Walmart and Target, household goods are still purchased at these markets. The hundreds of booths hawked all manner of products, from fresh fruits and meat to dresses, toys, and healing crystals.

If you've ever traveled to a tourist place in the US, no doubt you've encountered the Peruvian flute player bands. They are a staple of the San Francisco waterfront and nearly any arts festival across the US. They are also in St. Remy, only they aren't Peruvians. These two guys were dressed as American Plains Indians, complete with feather head-dresses and plenty of pseudo-Indian tchotchkes for sale (dream catchers, Chinese-origin wolf prints, etc.). Jackie and I live in part of the world where we see and interact with Indians on a daily basis. Many of us whose families have been here for 250 years have Indian blood in our veins. I can tell you that the two guys "playing" the flute weren't US plains Indians–the facial structures and skin colors weren't right. Not even close. Which now makes me wonder now about those "Peruvians" in San Francisco.

Walking around the market, we bought a nice table cloth with pictures of olives on it and some similar cloth for curtains and napkins. I bought a sun dress for Beau and Jackie bought her a t-shirt that says (in French) "Some day my prince will come and my father will explode"–the shirt has a girl with a tiara kissing a frog. That's funny because Beau loves to play with frogs. We also picked up a few jars of tapanade as gifts and I got some fresh cherries.

Once we were finished with the market, we got in the car with Rich and Pat, this time with me driving. We made our way through Cavaillon and on to the mountain town of Gordes. Gordes hasn't changed much in 500 years and it's a great place to photograph.

From Gordes, we drove a few miles to Roussillon. Even though Gordes and Roussillon are only a few miles apart, they have very different appearance. Near Roussillon are quarries where yellow and red ochre were mined for hundreds of years to be used in pigments. The town definitely has a ochre tint to it and it colors everything from the clay tiles to the painted buildings. Only the doors and windows seem to escape the coloring.

Late in the evening, we departed Roussillon for St. Remy. We arrived at our B&B and shared a bottle of wine with Rich and Pat and ate the cherries we bought that morning. Along with the remainder of tapanade and some bread we bought at the bakery, it was a great snack. Honestly, I could make a meal of bread, cheese, coldcuts, and a bottle of wine at least once a week.

Once the sun went down, we drove into the city center to find a restaurant that our hostess recommended. Our evening meal was Italian and the restaurant was in a back corner of a courtyard. Most of the tourists found the restaurants out on the street, but this place seemed to be more for locals. The atmosphere was very relaxed and we weren't hurried by the staff to finish up and leave. That's a nice thing about French restaurants and I completely understand why most Americans hate it, with our go-go-go mentality.

We said goodbye to Rich and Pat for this trip, as they drove home to Villes-sur-Auzon. I worked on the computer, getting my photos in order, until about midnight. I managed to snag a slow wi-fi connection and learned that Ed McMahon had passed away.

Goodnight, moon.

Tomorrow – St. Remy, TGV, Paris. If you want to skip all the talk and see the pics, just browse over to my Photo site.