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Two Weeks in Provence, or The Simple Life

Typical Provençal Home

Typical Provençal Home

If you’ve ever read A Year in Provence, you get but a slight idea of what life is in southern France, famous for its sunshine, natural beauty and slow pace of life.  Furthermore Provence feeds the rest of the country,  as most of the fruits and vegetables consumed here  are grown in this region.

Last Friday, Nath, Tim and I threw all our 8 bags in a car with no a/c and left for our 5-hour ride to Provence in 80 degree weather. After a long drive, we arrived in Le Brusquet.  A few facts about Nath’s mom’s village (after all, it’s not even big enough to be called a town):

Population – 500

Number of (known) foreigners –  3: Laura (my friend from NY who met up with us here), Tim and me

Number of (known) Asians – 2: me and another girl I spotted at the summer festival, though I am not sure she’s actually from Le Brusquet

Nearest major town – Digne les Baignes, 20,000 people, 10 km away

This is a place where you wake up in the morning, go to the veggie garden to water your produce, and then weed the garden and pick some tomatoes.  Then it’s turn to feed the chickens and collect the eggs they’ve laid the night before.  Right before lunch, it’s Nath’s uncle who shows up in all his French-stereotype glory, sporting his thick moustache, which is wetted and then curled at the very ends, saying “Bonjour” to everybody.  He’s only really missing a baguette and a name like “Pierre”–though I insist by calling him by his proper French name of “Pierre,” Nath keeps denying his name is Pierre.

So Pierre, who literally lives next door, lets himself into the house, kicks the family dog and then carries in a box containing several heads of lettuce that he’s just pulled out of his garden.

Our lunches are enjoyed alfresco and always include something from the garden.  The French are very strict about how their meals are served, so each course, as simple as it may be, is served separately, always accompanied by copious amounts of rosé (perfect for the summer).  My accidental serving of say, the chicken and the salad at the same time, has caused quite a scandal at the dinner table.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the French eat way less than we do.  Sometimes I have to act proper and prim and not get seconds, which Iam  always tempted to do.  I then have to make up for it during the cheese source, where I always, always, always go all out.  I figured it would be sacrilegious to starve myself in a culinary  paradise like France.

We have also been taking many day trips around Le Brusquet.  The region is rich in unusual geological phenomena and natural beauty, not to mention the beautiful sights of the  idiosyncratic stone houses with salmon colored walls where doors and shutters are painted in the Provençal palette of lavender, sea blue, baby pink and pastel green.

When not on the road, we sit in the veranda reading or studying French, chatting or taking naps.

The nights are spent equally quietly, sometimes with a game of canasta or with Nath and I trying to learn how to dance Tecktonik on YouTube (see next post).

It is a nice life indeed.  We’ll be doing that for another week and then it’s off to Spain.

Lunch with Nath, Her Mom, Aunt, Uncle and Laura

Tim Tending the Vegetable Garden

Tim Tending the Vegetable Garden

Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden
Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden

My Job Was to Pick Lavender

Chicken in the Coup

Chicken in the Coup

Laura Finds Two Eggs in the Chicken Coup

Trip to Moustier St. Marie

Trip to Moustier Ste. Marie

Rock Band Playing by the Weekly Farmers/Craft Market in the Town of Forcalquier

Rock Band Playing by the Weekly Farmers/Craft Market in the Town of Forcalquier

Nath and I in Moustier Ste. Marie

Nath and I in Moustier Ste. Marie

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2 Responses

  1. We can’t see the uncle’s stache with the wine glass covering his upper lip.

  2. oh it is not that uncle; it is yet another one!

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