France

From the other angle_8855

Sometimes I call my teenage daughters my petals.  Sometimes I call them my flower fairies.  It’s an old habit. But the names fit them quite well during their wanderings through the lavender fields of Provence.

Lavender fields above Rousillon_8487

Millay in lavender_1542

With back to the camera_8661

Millay walking_1608

Deep breath_8601

Tessa reaching out_8531

Millay with arm up_1606

Millay bending over the flowers_1571

Millay walking_1545

Smelling the lavender_8955

Bees in the lavender_1587

What is a sea of lavender anyway, if not an excuse to swim?

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Colors Of Provence II: Market Time!

by Becky on July 2, 2013 · 7 comments

in Travel

Better lavender_0623

Usually, heading to the market means: a hasty list scribbled on a post-it note. And a typical list might read: toothpaste, bagels, shoelaces for Goose’s Converse. And when it comes time to refer to the post-it note, I might realize: Oh, left it at home (which means it’s lost forever). And therefore a trip to the market becomes: guesswork.

But pretty much anywhere in Provence, heading out to the market requires absolutely no post-it note, and guesswork is of course welcome.

No one even minds that you talk to yourself, that you just continaully keep saying over and over, No!–you’re kidding me. (Like when the local macaroon maker insists you try the almond ones, then the pistachio, then the orange blossom . . .) Or that you are heard to exclaim, Oh . . . my! (Like when the endless stacks of Provencal linens frankly just defy understanding.) Or that, to whoever will listen, you insist, Smell-this-smell-this-smell-this! (Like when the fragrant, locally-made soaps make you positively silly.)

Soaps_4099

Girls with soaps_4076

Girls with soaps_4078

Vegetables_0646

Olives_0700

Peppers_0694

Mortar and pestles_0586

Red chairs and tables_0688

Cafe in Bonnieux_0608

Honey_4039

Baguettes_4034

Table linens_0709

Lavender sachets_0610

Flowers_4135

Dresses_4069

During our trip to France, the Eleven O’Clock Dad and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. By marketing. I couldn’t imagine a grander way to ring in year twenty-six.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Painted doors_8052

The other day, a fabulous little gem waited for us just outside Roussillon, France.  We were on our way to the market and got sidetracked.  Just so you know, this is one of my favorite ways to travel:  set out, get distracted . . . and go with it.  We missed the market altogether, but the color museum, or Conservatoire Des Ocres Et De La Couleur, turned out to be a burst of happiness in an already bright day.

Conservatoire de color_8079

First of all, I LOVE color.  I’ve sometimes put myself to sleep at night just thinking of colors that work and play well together.  Second, watching Miss Zinnia, a kindred Color Enthusiast, go neon with joy, also bumped up the color love.

Roussillon’s red cliffs, famous throughout Provence, provide more than just hue.  For decades, locals have mined the ocre to make pigments, and the color museum now lives in the old factory where it happened.

Equipment at color factory_8218

Color wheel on building_8308

Hallway of the museum_8109

Bags of color_8094

Supplies on the shelf_8118

various apothecary jars_8196

Vials with powder_8190

Bags of ocre_8175

Slab with color names_8160

Powdered ocres_8084

Chalk box_8096

Brushes hanging_8402

We stayed much longer than we meant to. Truthfully, I didn’t want to leave. Where else was I going to collide with splashes of color riotous enough to put Crayola to shame? If you ever end up in Provence–especially with artistically inclined kids–you’ve got to stop in for a dose of Happy.

It’ll make you want to sing!  Honest.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Look: Cherries! Oh Happy Day!

by Becky on June 28, 2013

in Food, Travel

Roadside cherries_7990

I delight in stopping by the little roadside fruit stands dotting the back roads of Provence. Everywhere, the trees are dripping cherries, and you can get a kilo of them for two or three euros, depending on which kind you’re in the mood for. Yesterday, a friendly man who looked like everyone’s Grandpa was selling them at a table on the side of the road. Enterprising gentleman. Today, we stopped on our way to Forcalquier. This time, the cherry “stand” was the tailgate of a truck, and the man selling his cherries couldn’t have looked happier to be soaking up the late afternoon sun while he waited for passersby to take the bait.

I’ve decided that the right road trip food makes all the difference. Goose kept himself busy digging for the two-fers–cherries whose stem tops are still connected–all afternoon. His hands and mind stayed busy, and his belly got full, crucial items on the “Musts For A Happy Road Trip” list.

If there’s a road trip lesson here, it’s this: stop for happy food, often. And if the food happens to be bright and beautiful, so much the better.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Lourdes, France: Quicksketch

by Becky on June 12, 2013

in Travel

Peeking through the stone_3365

Take a peek at Lourdes, France, in the French Pyrenees.

View of the city_3307

Climbing vines in Lourdes_3340

City of Lourdes_3405

Miillay and Goose in stairwell_3319

And another peek at Miss Zinnia and the indefatigable Goose, tucked away in the tower of the chateau-fort up on the hill.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

On The Streets Of Toulouse, France

by Becky on May 21, 2013 · 4 comments

in Travel

Toulouse, France

You know how sometimes it feels sunny, even when it’s rainy?

Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France

Our day in Toulouse was like that.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

So the story is that we stopped in Pouzac, France, a town no one’s ever heard of but its inhabitants. In the distance, an old church beckoned. We feared its doors would be shut and locked. That often happens in small towns.

But we stopped anyway. And got out. And decided to explore a little.

I wandered through the church yard, spent a moment considering the dates on the tombstones in the graveyard.  Then, when I checked the door to the church, surprise:  the latch gave, and I pushed the door open. And stepped inside. Completely empty but for the two votives flickering in the sanctuary.

Miss Zinnia decided to perform a single verse from a church hymn.

Here is how that verse sounded.

(And to whoever left the door to that 16th century church open: Merci.)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }