France 2004-2005 Archives

September 30, 2004

Week 12 - Paris

August 28 - September 3

We have arrived in France… our home for the next 7-1/2 months. After the comfortable environment of our summer in England, we stepped into a more dramatically different culture and the challenges of operating in a different language. We enjoyed our first week in Paris, despite the problems we encountered related to our long-stay visas. We especially enjoyed our day-trip to Giverny… and the fact that we have another whole week to experience this wonderful city of light.

Saturday, August 28

Our beds in Bruges were so comfortable, and it was really hard to get up this morning. But we were excited about heading to Paris—and our seven-and-a-half months in France—and we needed to re-pack our bags for the train trip. Kelly’s turquoise bag is enormously heavy with all of her books. We went ahead and carried the bags downstairs when we went down to breakfast—Charley was sweating when he sat down to eat after maneuvering the three big bags down the two twisty flights of steps. Benno and Frieda served another bountiful breakfast… they are such nice people. Charley had the eggs today, and even Kelly ate a good breakfast for a change. We shared our table with two women from California, perhaps a bit younger than me. I was sorry we just had the one meal to share with them, as we had a lot to talk about. One of the women works for Nestle and is on a temporary assignment in Switzerland. Now that’s the kind of assignment I need! She gets to fly home every six weeks or they pay for someone come to see her. She said she’s had a hard time getting family members to come, so this one friend has been able to come several times. Nestle has just told her that her assignment’s ending, so now she’s trying to do a lot of traveling that she wishes she’d done before. They were very interested in hearing about our trip… especially my dropping out of the corporate world to do this. I liked them both a lot.

We hated to say goodbye to Benno and Frieda… they are great hosts and this is really the best place we’ve stayed since our trip began. Benno wrote on our bill, “You are lovely people,” and I would say the same about them! I think the price was also very reasonable for our enormous two-story suite… we paid 115 euro per night, including the breakfast. When I corresponded with Benno by e-mail to inquire about availability, he suggested that we could take one of their double rooms, which would be big enough to include a cot for Kelly… it would have been somewhat cheaper. We peeked in one of their other rooms and it was very very nice, but nothing like our giant suite. I’m glad I paid the extra amount for the loft room—we deserved a reward after our walk across England. We really liked being able to spread out after sharing small rooms for 19 nights.

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October 14, 2004

Week 13 - Paris

September 4 - 10, 2004

It was wonderful to have two full weeks in Paris... we could leisurely explore museums and parks, even double back to the Musee d'Orsay for a second visit. Mid-week we made a trip down to Provence to try to resolve our visa issue. Although we hit a dead-end with our visas, we did get to see the house where we'll be living from early October until mid-April. We're even more excited about our time there.

We've been gone from home now for three months. My friend Becky Versategui and two of her friends arrived in Paris at the end of this week, and it was really good to spend time with them.

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October 20, 2004

Week 14 - Burgundy

Photos of the highlights of our week in Burgundy (17 photos) are posted here.

September 11 - 17, 2004

We’ve visited France three times before, but our travels have been limited to Paris, Provence and Alsace. Leaving Paris after two busy weeks, we headed south to explore some new areas of France. This week we fulfilled one of Charley’s long-time dreams to visit Burgundy… a lush agricultural region best known for its fine wine. We stayed at a truly unique place… an exquisite cottage (La Petite Maison) on the grounds of athe recently restored Château de Créancey. Kelly loved playing with the two dogs, riding bikes, and rowing a small rowboat in the château moat. The Château de Créancey was an ideal base for exploring Burgundy. We especially enjoyed our visit to Beaune, our drive along the Route des Grands Crus, and a wonderful lunch at a country restaurant.

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October 26, 2004

Week 15 - Turenne (Corrèze, France)

Photos of the highlights of our two weeks based in Turenne (38 photos) are posted here.

September 18 - 24, 2004

We planned to spend several weeks exploring other areas of France before reaching Provence, where we have rented a house for 28 weeks beginning on October 2nd. I had read about the beautiful Dordogne Valley, but really didn’t know anything about it. Last fall I started researching possible rentals in the Dordogne region… and came across a website for a unique cottage in the fairytale village of Turenne. I was captivated by the photos of the cottage and the village and decided instantly that I wanted to stay there—in fact, I wanted to stay there two weeks. I’d never heard of Turenne… and didn’t really even know where it was relative to the most famous sights of the Dordogne.

Turenne is in the region of the Limousin, about an hour south of the city of Limoges in the southern end of the département of Corrèze. The Lot département is a few miles to the south, and the Dordogne département is a few miles to the west. This general area is also known as the Périgord, particularly when referring to its gastronomic specialties. Our cottage—and the village of Turenne—were even better than we had expected based on the website. We were happy to have two weeks here.

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October 30, 2004

Week 16 - Turenne (Corrèze, France)

Photos of the highlights of our two weeks based in Turenne (38 photos) are posted here.

September 25 - October 1, 2004

We were glad to have a second week in our twisted old cottage in the unique village of Turenne—more time to explore the beautiful countryside of the Corrèze and the Dordogne. We especially enjoyed our visits to Domme and Beynac Castle and also the big Saturday market at Brive. We made a day-trip up toward Limoges, where we spent several hours at the ruined village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Almost all the residents of the village (642 men, women and children) were killed by the Nazis in June 1944. This was a thought-provoking and important day for us.

Our second week in Turenne also gave us the opportunity to develop relationships with our neighbors: James, a retired psychologist from Scotland; and Michel and Virginie, a delightful couple who live at the top of the village in Michel’s old family home. As the week ended, our excitement grew as we prepared to travel south to Provence… our home for the next 6-1/2 months.

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November 8, 2004

Weeks 17-21: Living in Provence

Our Dream of Provence

Several years ago I ordered Charley a set of videos of a popular BBC television miniseries—A Year in Provence. Like thousands of other people, we had both read several of Peter Mayle’s books about his life in the French countryside, and Charley had particularly enjoyed the stories. I thought he might like the videos also.

The videos sat unwatched on a shelf for several months until one bored night Charley and Kelly finally pulled the first one down. They were quickly captivated with this show, watching the episodes over and over, even memorizing parts of the dialogue. My husband and daughter were caught up in the story of Peter and Annie, the renovation of their stone farmhouse, and their various French neighbors. The program was all filmed on location in Provence and much of the dialogue was in French. It became their nightly ritual to watch a bit of A Year in Provence before Kelly went to bed. My nightly ritual was working on the computer in the adjacent room… usually planning vacation trips for our family. I actually saw very little of the show.

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November 19, 2004

Week 22-23: Living in Provence (Kelly at school)

Notre Petite Écolère (Our Little Schoolgirl)

The three of us sat nervously on a concrete bench in the schoolyard of the Bonnieux École Élémentaire. It was 4:15 on a Tuesday afternoon, our first week in Provence. We hoped to meet with the director of the school—Monsieur Grimaud—and make arrangements for Kelly to start school on Monday.

When we first began to plan this trip, we thought we would home school Kelly during our extended stay in France. One day I mentioned this on the Slow Travel message board and received an interesting response from a woman who had recently returned from a year in Florence, Italy with her three children. She initially home schooled her children, but then enrolled them in the local school. She highly recommended this approach and said her children had quickly become fluent in Italian. Her story caused me to reconsider our home schooling plan, and Charley and I had several discussions. I started thinking about the three of us in our farmhouse in Provence… our own little one-room school with two teachers and one student. How would Kelly make friends? Would this be too much togetherness? And what about our free time… the projects Charley and I wanted to pursue? We finally decided we would pursue a blended approach—hopefully for Kelly to attend the village school where she could be with other kids, learn French, and experience another culture. We would supplement this with home schooling, working with the same textbooks as her class at home.

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November 26, 2004

Week 24: Living in Provence (An Experience in Fine Dining)

When I left my job of ten years to pursue our dream of spending a year in Europe, my business partners (the other 15 shareholders in our company) gave Charley and I a wonderful going-away dinner. They also surprised us with a special gift… a meal at one of the most famous restaurants in Provence—Oustau de Baumanèire in Les Baux-de-Provence. The CEO of our company—my former boss—had eaten there several times, and he and his wife (fluent in French) made arrangements for our meal and the bill. Our afternoon at Oustau de Baumanèire was—without question—the best dining experience I’ve ever had.

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December 3, 2004

Week 25 - Living in Provence (The End of Autumn)

Our Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I like the fact that it’s relatively simple—just a big traditional meal, usually shared with family or friends. Very little decorating, no gifts that need to be bought and wrapped, no cards, no parties, no stress—simple. Everything is just focused on that one Thursday… and really just on that big meal—turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, rolls, pumpkin pie.

Charley and I have been married 12 years, but until this year we’ve never hosted the Thanksgiving meal. My contribution to the meal has usually involved a broccoli casserole and a mashed potato casserole—no stress, simple. Yes, Thanksgiving has always been a simple holiday for me.

Or it was until we celebrated Thanksgiving in Provence…

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December 22, 2004

Weeks 26-27: Living in Provence (10 Things We Miss About Home)

We've been away from home now for over six months... since June 11th. It's hard to believe that half a year has already passed by--and that we are really spending 14 months in Europe. For the first 16 weeks, we traveled in England, Scotland and France--changing location every week or two. In August we walked 190-miles across England, then traveled by ferry from England to Belgium. During that part of our trip we slept in 19 different beds over three weeks! On the second of October we arrived in Provence, France where we're now living until the middle of April. Although we're not working and are just here temporarily, during this part of Our Grand Tour we're having the experience of living in France--not just traveling about as tourists. We're also experiencing life in the French countryside--quite different than if we had decided to spend our six months in Paris or even in a larger town.

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January 14, 2005

Week 28: Living in Provence (A Christmas Diary)

This Christmas was not our first Christmas away from home or even our first Christmas in Europe—but it was our first Christmas in France. We spent the Christmases of 1999 and 2003 in Salzburg, Austria and the days leading up to those two Christmases traveling in southern Germany. We felt we knew something about Christmas in Germany and Austria, but we weren’t sure what to expect in France.

At home in America, the Christmas season was always horribly stressful for me. December was one of the most demanding times of the year in my work, and it was also one of the busiest times in our family life. I was one of those women who always wanted to do Christmas right: a carefully-prepared Christmas letter sent to a long-mailing list of family and friends, a house decorated both inside and out, a big beautiful “real” tree, carefully-selected and elaborately-wrapped gifts, homemade casseroles for potluck dinners, a large homecooked family meal, special programs at our church, tickets for the Nutcracker and our symphony’s musical program, a series of holiday parties to attend wearing a new holiday sweater…. by the time Christmas Day arrived, I was frazzled and exhausted. We started taking Christmas trips to relieve some of the pressures of Christmas—and also to give Mom a much-needed rest! This year I finally had the opportunity to have a Christmas season without a job. I wasn’t worrying about the December board meeting or the budget or the new healthcare plan or the new bonus plan or the company Christmas party. I could relax this year with Charley and Kelly and truly savor the Christmas season.

Christmas is filled with traditions that differentiate cultures and even families. We saw this very clearly when we spent our two Christmases in Austria. We were looking forward to learning more about the Christmas traditions in Provence, participating in activities in and around our village, and incorporating Provençal customs into our own celebration. We were also looking forward to sharing the holiday season with special friends from home.

This is the story of our Noël en Provence…

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January 28, 2005

Weeks 29-32: Living in Provence (The Markets of Provence)

Although it’s Saturday and Kelly doesn’t have school today, we set the alarm for 7:30. We want to leave the house no later than nine. We all dress warmly, and I put the big straw basket in the car. It’s market day in Apt.

We want to arrive early because parking can be a challenge at this popular market. In the summer it’s so crowded that there is satellite parking at the old train station and people are shuttled into the center of town. Today we park as usual on the street near the music school and walk several blocks to the west end of the market at Place de la Bouquerie. Several other people also walk briskly down the street; everyone has a straw market basket. One man has a small dog that Kelly thinks is cute. We pass an elderly lady, very stooped over, who moves much more slowly. She pulls a shopping basket on wheels and is dressed nicely in a dress, heeled shoes, a woolen coat and hat. “Bonjour Madame,” we each say politely, as we circle around her. “Excusez-moi, s’il vous plaît.”

Today we’ve managed to arrive a bit early, so we have time for coffee at the Café du Louvre on the Place de la Bouquerie. Some of the sellers are still unpacking their goods and setting up their stalls outside on the square. Charley has café noir, I have café au lait, and Kelly has chocolat chaud. A man at the bar is drinking pastis. Our favorite café doesn’t serve food at breakfast, so Charley walks a few doors down the street to the Bouchard boulangerie and comes back with several croissants. We tell the owner we’ll be back for lunch, and head out into the busy marketplace.

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February 14, 2005

Weeks 33-35: Living in Provence (Winter in Provence – Enjoying the Great Outdoors)

Our family has definitely been more physically active since we embarked on this big adventure. Although Kelly played softball and basketball last year and we had done a couple of long walking vacations, we were otherwise stereotypical couch potatoes… especially in the wintertime. My major physical exercise each day involved walking up a steep city block from the parking garage to my downtown office building.

Now here we are with 14 months off from work… a great opportunity to make a lifestyle change and become more physically active. We started walking in England and really haven’t stopped. We’ve found that this area of Provence is very much a walker’s paradise—well-marked trails everywhere and truly amazing scenery. Charley and I have increased the frequency and intensity of our walks together, and we think we often see the very best of Provence from the walking trail—the hidden countryside that people who pass through by car never see. For the most part, the winter weather has been very conducive to walking—clear, sunny days with temperatures sometimes in the upper 50’s. When the sun is high, we can hike without our jackets even at this time of year. Our hiking days together are very special times for Charley and me.

Last week we had one of our most unusual hikes so far—to the Gorges de Véroncle, a truly unique natural and historical area that can only be reached on foot. The gorges are located in the area between the pretty villages of Joucas and Murs, and we had a beautiful view of the famous village of Gordes off to the west before heading down into the gorges.

We’ve recently started walking to Bonnieux once or twice a week, normally to have lunch at the village café, Le Terrail. Sometimes we meet Kelly at her school at noon and enjoy lunch together at the café. For 12 euro each, we have a great meal with an entrée (first course), a main course like steak, lamb or veal, dessert and coffee. We like being “regulars” at the café. (On our café days we usually have a very light dinner!) A couple of times I’ve driven Kelly back to school after a lunch at home, left the car in the school parking lot, walked back here, and then walked back to meet her at the end of her day. We drive the car back home. If I walk quickly, I can make the trip in 30 minutes, and it helps that we now know several shortcuts. It’s a strenuous walk to the village… uphill almost the whole way!

A big highlight of our winter in Provence has been Kelly’s discovery of skiing. She went on a weeklong “classe de neige” with her school in January, and we just returned this afternoon from a long weekend of skiing in the Val d’Allos. We are only three hours from the southern French Alps, so we wanted to take advantage of this unique opportunity during Kelly’s winter break from school. Tomorrow morning we leave on another mini-trip… this time to Barcelona, Spain for four days. Charley calls this “our vacation from our vacation.” It all seems rather decadent, I’m sure!

Our blog update today is a family effort and focuses on some of our outdoor experiences in Provence this winter:

· My Trip Skiing in the French Alps (and Learning to Ski in French) – by Kelly

· Four Days in the French Alps – by Kathy

· Hiking in the Gorges de Véroncle – by Charley

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March 9, 2005

Weeks 36-38: Living in Provence (Having Guests)

Last Monday afternoon we stood in the bitter cold on the platform at the Avignon TGV station. It had snowed at our house in the Luberon that morning, but there wasn’t a snowflake to be seen 45 minutes away in Avignon.

We had just helped our friends Sherry and Becky find the right train car and now we tried desperately to spot them through the shaded windows of the train. As the train pulled away—headed to Paris at 180 miles an hour—we waved frantically, hoping our friends could see us.

Kelly turned to me. “I really, really like having guests,” she said.

In his famous book, “A Year in Provence,” Peter Mayle writes about the “invasion” of visitors from home. Many were only distant acquaintances, who begged for invitations or unexpectedly descended on him and his wife Annie between Easter and the end of September. Peter describes in detail how he came to dread the phone calls and the deluge of unwanted guests.

Perhaps we were more fortunate to be here in the off-season or to be much farther from home than the Peter Mayle was from England. For us, having houseguests has been a very positive part of our Provençal adventure. We decided to rent a much larger home than we needed for the three of us so we had space to welcome friends and family. With four bedrooms and three full baths (plus an additional WC), we have room for up to five more people. We also thought the idea of visitors from home would be a selling point for Kelly, who we initially thought would be horrified at the idea of a year abroad. She wouldn’t be totally isolated from the world she knew—special people would come to visit, including her best friend. We didn’t realize at the time that “having guests” would become an important part of the experience for all three of us.

We have a big home in America—a four bedroom house, one of which we’ve turned into a travel room/office. We have a very large, very nice guest room… but very few guests! Since my parents moved to Knoxville several years ago, the only occupants of the guest room have been my sister and her family who visit once a year. Most of our closest friends and family live in Knoxville. And with the demands of my career, I didn’t really extend myself to drum up visitors. Other than long-ago 1982 (the year Knoxville hosted a World’s Fair and I hosted eight sets of company in a four month period in my small post-grad school apartment), Knoxville has never really been a magnet for attracting friends and family—certainly not a magnet like the South of France.

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March 22, 2005

Weeks 39-41: Living in Provence (Our Long Vacation)

We met two Americans in Aix-en-Provence last week while making a major purchase in a pottery shop. They were teachers from a high school in California, taking a group of high school students around France for ten days.

“Are you in France for your daughter’s spring break?” the woman asked, quickly sizing up our family.

“Well no,” Charley said. “We’re actually living in Provence for six months. We live over the mountain in the Luberon.”

“How absolutely wonderful,” the woman gushed, looking at Kelly. “Aren’t you so lucky!” She was a French teacher, so we were living her dream. “What kind of work do you do that brings you here for six months?”

“Actually we’re not working,” I replied, launching into my now-standard explanation. “We’re taking a year off… kind of a sabbatical to live and travel in Europe.”

“Ohhhh…” she gasped, sounding very much in awe. “That’s quite a vacation!”

Webster’s defines a vacation as “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.” Hmmmm… sounds like what we’re doing. We’re away from home and business, traveling and recreating. We aren’t old enough to be retired, we don’t have jobs, we weren’t laid off or fired… so this must be vacation. Strange as it may seem—given my life up until this point—I’m on a fourteen-month vacation.

Vacations the American Way

I was a loyal member of corporate America for 27 years, enjoying vacations the American way: a couple of weeks a year based on company service. The average American has 12 paid vacation days a year; I was a bit luckier than most Americans—I had 15 days. (In contrast, the average Western European enjoys 25 days of vacation a year… and here in France a 35-hour workweek.) There were some years—before I met Charley and started taking European vacations—when I didn’t even take all my vacation. I was too busy at work, didn’t have the money, didn’t really have anywhere to go, or (most likely the real reason) didn’t have anyone special to go with.

With Charley and Kelly, I learned to love vacations. Vacations were our major family time together, and we became known among our friends for our outstanding vacations. We went to Europe (seven times before this trip), to Nova Scotia, to the beach, to New York and San Francisco, to DisneyWorld, to the mountains, to visit my family in Maryland. Frequent flyer miles and Marriott points helped to make more travel possible. We combined vacations days with long holiday weekends and tried to maximize our time away and our enjoyment of new experiences.

We were especially drawn to Europe. Our European trips expanded from one week to ten days and finally two weeks. If we left on a Friday afternoon and returned two Sundays later, we could have sixteen nights away from home. We started taking two weeks at the end of every May, leaving on the last day of Kelly’s school year and incorporating the Memorial Day holiday. We also started going on trips at Christmas. We could go somewhere for two weeks at Christmas and sometimes only use four days of vacation because of holidays and weekends. Although the first half of December always seemed to be the busiest time of the year in my job as VP of Human Resources for my company, the last half of December was the quietest. Most of the other senior managers took off at this time, which made it very easy to be away. Christmas travel also helped me cut back on some of the self-imposed stress of a Christmas at home—fewer decorations to put up, fewer presents to buy and wrap, fewer cookies and casseroles to bake, fewer parties to attend.

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April 12, 2005

Weeks 42-43: Living in Provence (Scenes of Spring)

The Luberon Comes to Life

Our Luberon valley has burst into color as it awakens to spring. We marvel at the daily changes in the landscape around us. Three weeks ago we saw the long-awaited first blooms on our almond trees. Then last weekend the cherry trees began their show. Cherries are a major crop in the area around Apt, and we’re surrounded by orchards… perfectly straight rows of trees, pruned identically, each one covered with plump white blossoms. We pass thousands of these shimmering trees on our eight-minute drive to and from Kelly’s school.

In many of the vineyards tiny yellow dandelions cover the ground beneath the vines. I’ve always thought of dandelions as weeds, but here in this land of color, they’re beautiful wildflowers. Other vineyards and many orchards are dotted with lacy white flowers… I don’t know what they are, but in mass they’re just beautiful. This morning I took a long walk through the fields around La Bastide Vieille. There are at least fifteen different varieties of tiny colorful wildflowers, including hundreds of tiny grape hyacinths popping up simply everywhere. At home I buy these little purple flowers through a mail order catalog and plant the bulbs in my yard. But in Provence they grow in abundance, practically everywhere. I picked a nosegay of flowers and arranged them in a cream pitcher in our dining room.

On Thursday we saw our first poppies, happy red flowers on the side of the road. The rosemary bushes around our house sport tiny purple flowers, a hint of the spectacle we’ll miss when fields of lavender take center stage this summer. There are hundreds of irises on the grounds of La Bastide; the plants that get the most sun are sending up their stalks, and I see the purple flowers preparing to bloom. I had been desperate to see the cherry trees before we left… now I just want to see the irises—hopefully lots of them—before Friday.

As we admire the countryside from our vantage point on this hillside, it’s as if I’m watching an artist creating a great work of art, each day adding more colors to the canvas. I wake each morning eager to see what new surprise I’ll discover in the painting today. Despite the lack of rain this spring, the fields have turned a vibrant green, surrounded by the beautiful white orchards and the still-dormant vines, blanketed with the yellow dandelions, and then topped by that bright blue sky. It’s absolutely lovely, breathtaking. At times I feel close to tears—at the simple beauty that is Provence, at the thought of leaving this wonderful place… especially now, when the Luberon is coming to life.

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April 14, 2005

Week 44 - Living in Provence (Au Revoir)

I’ll Miss You, Provence
by Kelly

I’ll miss--

Bonnieux the village I’ve come to love,
Lacoste, you too, the castle far above.

Apt-- the town we shopped for food, and markets on Saturdays,
Our house, La Bastide Vieille, in all the yellow sunrays.

All the people we’ve met here: Michel, Madame Gouin and Mariette, Gerard and Annie too.
The Thompsons, Widrows, and Jenkins-- our friends true.

The school I attended and all my friends who are French,
Chico my black cat who meows in Span-ish.

Unfortunately our time here is at an end,
But Provence, we will meet again.

Au Revoir Provence
by Charley

Tomorrow we’ll be leaving Provence. When our family came to this part of France six and one-half months ago, our departure was so far in the future that it seemed that we had more than enough time to properly “do” Provence. Plenty of time to see everything and experience all it had to offer. Then we would close this chapter of our grand tour and move on to the finale.

We’d initially included Provence as a place to spend the winter since it was in the south of the country and was famous for its mild winter weather. A second visit would also give us the chance to see a few things we hadn’t the time for in 2003.

Well, time passes in Provence as it does everywhere. Our six and one-half month stay is almost at an end and our departure date looms as a dreaded square on our calendar. We’re almost devastated at the thought of having to leave a place that has come to feel like home.

Somewhere along the way our attitudes and feelings have changed. We had come from a supercharged 24/7 American culture where everything is scheduled and life rushes along its course like some product speeding relentlessly along a production line. Everything seemed to have a starting point, a finish, but no stops along the way.

We’ve learned that Provence is not just a place. It’s a different way of seeing and thinking about things. After the initial dose of culture shock, we found it very easy to fall into the languid flow of Provençal life and time. Why some particular thing or event at home in America was so important got a little fuzzy here. Schedules, plans, needs, and habits changed. Rushing from one thing to another no longer had precedence in our lives.

A slow early morning drive along narrow country lanes became important, a simple trip into our village to buy warm baguettes and croissants from the boulangerie. Often I would pull to the side of the road to watch as the sun rose over Bonnieux on its mountain perch. I sat in awe as the suns rays successively painted gold on the tops of ancient buildings, stone walls, olive trees, grape vines, and then the land itself. It dawned on me that I was looking at essentially the same view that captivated Caesar and then, Charlemagne. I could have been standing in the very spot where a crusader bid farewell before starting for the Holy land. The Avignon Popes spent their summers in the relative cool of Bonnieux. They too could have enjoyed the same view several centuries earlier.

Provence is an ancient land. Evidence if its long history dots the landscape in the form of Roman bridges, medieval castles, ancient churches and monasteries and the unique Provencal bories, stone shepherds huts that litter the countryside by the hundreds. The procession of history through this wonderful place, with both its notables and its unknowns, provides a legendary backdrop to what is perhaps Provence’s greatest gift. It’s a subtle but lovely gift, one that I can take away with me- the spirit and essence of a place suspended in time. The pace of life here is slow. The pace of change is even slower, hard to measure. The people are warm, the land rich and beautiful , the sky impossibly blue. Provence requires a change in gears. It lets one slow down, enjoy life, appreciate family, and be content with oneself.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Our Grand Tour of Europe in the France 2004-2005 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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