Saturday, August 29, 2009

Le Weekend Begins

And it began with a party, our second annual neighborhood party. Invitations had been handed out to all the residences on six different streets to join together, each bringing a "plat salé ou sucre"(a plate salty or sweet) and a drink. When I say six streets, some may have only 2 homes, while ours has six houses.

Late afternoon was warm----no hot. The village would allow us to use their tables and chairs, however, we had to bring them to our street. Joe and four others were given that job. The tables are three meters (3 yards + ) long each weighing about 80 pounds. Chairs were gathered and a beer had to be had to solve the next dilemma.

There was one problem during the late afternoon and five men gathered to solve it. How to hang one light to highlight our featured art of the evening.

Our dining area is across the street, right in front of our home where there is a small place bumped out in the road. It is perfect for an evening under the stars. After the tables were carefully placed, the decorating began. Votives from Molly's wedding, plants for the tables, Michel's wonderful paintings, pictures from others home, lanterns from others, and music to fill the air.

Seven bells rang from the church tower and people began to gather, bottles of wines and fresh foods in hand. Albert and Pierre arrived with their vin d'orange and sangria for all to savor. The air was filled with voices of old and new friendships. The evening air was alive with conversations. Finally, Axel presented his "wursts" which he had brought from Germany and grilled in the courtyard. Each plate began to be filled with fresh salads, tarts, fruits of the countryside. Wine filled glasses with toasts to the evening.

As darkness descended, candles glowed from each table and the windows of our house. Twelve o'clock arrives with conversations continuing to fill the evening. Alas, eyes grew tired and silence returned to the street.

As I opened the shutters this morning, I wondered, was it all a pleasant dream? Ah, no, as the neighbors passed the window this morning, each stopped to say what a wonderful evening!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's Brocante Day

Sunday, yes, it is the day to travel to Uzès for the brocante, the flea market. As some of you know when we bought the house, we would spend every Sunday at the brocante finding treasures to dress up the house.

Today, we found a wonderful chair for the courtyard. Never mind that the seat has rusted through. As you can see Joe is overwhelmed with excitement for the purchase.

Yes, I do know exactly where it will go. A plant on the seat and tucked in the corner it now has a new home. I think for evening a candle would create the perfect effect.

Three small glasses at the wonderful price of 70 centimes made their way to our house, also. They are joined by a bottle of homemade mirabelle, a digestive (actually, it burns a hole right through all of the food you have eaten). It was made from a small yellow mirabelle plum and is a speciality of the area Joe was in to balloon.

And next Sunday? I am sure there will be some new irresistible treasures!

Á bientôt,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Don't Think I Can

I just don't think so. When the temperature will reach 35 degrees C (about 100 degrees F) today, I don't think I can be French if.........

I have to wear a scarf!

These lovely people were at the market this morning.

Stay cool,

Monday, August 17, 2009

And There Are Two Days Left!

For six days out of the year, it is not a quiet village. The Fête Votive awakens everyone for miles around to descend on our little hamlet. The Carmargue horses with their cowboys in vivid shirts arrive with their bulls to run around the town Place with the young of the villages following trying to capture the bull and wrestle him down to street level. This doesn't happen just once a day, but three times with villagers gathering behind the gates, some standing outside to challenge the wandering bull. (Now those brave ones, amazingly, when the bull comes into view scatter to find their home behind the bars.) The ambulance awaits the challenger who does not avoid the bull. The siren has remained silent. Five to six hundred people gather to watch and cheer those who follow the bull. The cowboy or girl is ever present on his or her agile horse to keep the pursuer and pursued safe.

Two mornings at 9:30 a lunch (more like breakfast) was served. Tables were set up in the street, a barbeque had hot sausages, our baker's bread held the hot treasure, potato chips, and of course, wine.

The best part of Saturday afternoon was the Mousse in the Place du Marché. All gathered anticipating the foam which would emerge onto the dance floor. Music filled the air and bubbles poured out onto the crowd. What fun for those from 2 to 82.

The sky glowed with the flashing carnival lights. All wonder among the many games and rides, knowing there will be treasures to win. And at 10:00 PM the band and singers begin and go and go and go until at least 2 or 3 in the morning.

Returning to our courtyard, much earlier then 2 AM, we discovered that the music crashed into our lives, not to disappear until early morning. Listen below to what we could hear each evening in our "quiet" part of the world.

Two days remain!

Á bientôt,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Six Whole Days!!!???!!!

A schedule of events arrived at our door with six, yes, six days of festivities.

I think something is about to happen in our village of Vers Pont du Gard. The road in front of our house is one way. Now, as some of you know when you step out the front door you need to be sure to look to the right and beware. Alas, the "do not enter one way signs"( our street is on the right) are covered with black garbage bags and traffic is zooming past in both directions (rather difficult when there is only room for one car at a time!).

Large fences circle the Place des Platanes. Soon they will be moved to tightly close the street from any wondering bulls.

Chairs are stacked in the Place and cooking on an open grill are four carcasses turning a golden brown. Under each lamb is a large pan of beans and other vegetables catching all of the warm drippings. The spits are rotating slowly, powered by car batteries. In our courtyard, the aroma arrives to hungry tummies.

Outside of the bar, tables fill the plaza. After the big boule competition, all followed the stone way to the bar to celebrate the victor. Ah, one of the finalist was a young lady who did very well against the harden gentlemen.

In the Place du Marché, which is one street behind our home, a carnival and stage are in place.

This evening there were drinks down our street in the Place. Whiskey, pastis, wine from our mayor's vineyard along with soft drinks for the villagers to enjoy. A Provencal band entertained all well into the evening.

Six days! Two of our neighbors have their bags packed to escape the village for the weekend. Two other neighbors found ear plugs at the pharmacy. We have heard that at 3 AM we will be able to dance to the evening's music in our courtyard. This will be an adventure. We shall experience another bit of summer village life.

Now, do you think our local statue is also thinking about how he can escape? I wonder.

If you click on any of the pictures they will become larger. Listen to the music below. Enjoy

À bientôt,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Step back in Time...

The sky, azure blue, the winds, gentle, the sun, pouring forth warmth, and we, walking up the narrow passage to Châteauneuf du Pape. It is the Medieval Fête de la Véraison, a festival celebrating the first show of color on the grapes. The town is filled to its crest with happy people, tasting wine, purchasing medieval trinkets, and enjoying the many costumed participants.

The town was the escape for seven different popes who ruled the church in the 1300's and needed a rest from their duties in the Papal Palace in the bustling city of Avignon about 15 kilometers away. It was a wonderful location high on a hill overlooking the vines that they enjoyed drinking. Quite convenient!

The castle (new by the regions standards) was partially destroyed in 1944 when an ammunition reserve for the Germans was blown up as their troops were being taken over. Left standing was the tower which is now the symbol of the wines in the region. Looking at these vineyards, I am very happy not to harvest the grapes or prune the vines. Each row is filled with rocks as big as your fist! Ugh! But oh, does the area produce good wines.

The village air was filled with music provided by many wandering musicians. As it was an extremely warm, no hot day, the gentleman provided relief with cool water from a thumb pot. He dips the pot in a barrel of water, places his thumb over the hole in the top, and releases his thumb over the head of a very hot visitor and cool water gently pours forth. It is pure relief from the sun.

The Frison horses click through the village pulling a wagon with barrels filled with the Châteauneuf wines. As the horses patiently wait, glasses are poured for those to enjoy.

A delightful day, yes. A day back in time. This festival is always the beginning of the anticipation of a bountiful harvest.

Á bientôt,


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Interlude...

Arriving in the south of France, we had no where to put our heads. As we decided to come earlier than expected, we had rented our house to some delightful Canadians. They will be on their way home Thursday, and we shall move into our home in Vers.

We are staying in the apartment that extends from Amy's house and sits over the area where she stores her wines. It is a great apartment. As you can see, as we enter, the railing is faux bois, fake wood. The metal edging on the roof tells of a different era as do the windows that cast light on the stairs.

A small kitchen is big enough to turn around. The two other rooms remind us of another time. Long French doors open to oversee the green courtyard. In winter the room tries to be warmed by the stove, but alas, is not very effective. The walls have been stripped of their former wallpaper, leavingan amazing coral color with texture that can't be duplicated today. The baseboard was carefully painted on the wall echoing the wallpaper. When we first saw the apartment heavy dark velvet drapes remained at the windows. Today they are free of their darkness.

The tiles are designs of the region. Each creating its own identity to a room.

The most important room contains a bathtub perfect for a gnome. Yes, there is a place to sit, however, do not plan to stretch out and dream.

As we look out over the vineyards, the sun settles in the western sky. The bed is so comfortable morning arrives too early. As you can see, Matt's little green chair is a perfect step for me to tumble into bed.

Such a delightful place to spend an interlude.

À bientôt,