I never thought that oysters would be in abundance in Provence and just outside Menerbes. But with quick geographic reflection, it does make perfect sense – what with it being bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and all that. With our 1-2 hour trips to get to the likes of Cassis and Cap Ferrat, we should have been more on the ball when it comes to obtaining and devouring oysters!
And so the routine began – every Saturday morning Seth and I would drive in the Deux Chevaux (vintage 1964 ‘Azam’) to the Coustellet Market, 10 minutes away, armed with an awfully bright-coloured cooler box filled with ice (a basket was quite impracticable for carrying freshly opened oysters, I was told by my terribly practical husband). We hurry back home and wait in anticipation for our mid-day indulgence.
Travelers to the Luberon will be aware of how the whole of the region (and indeed the country) comes to a standstill during lunch. We’ve learnt quite quickly that in Provence it is better to do your oyster shopping early. Either that or you’ll be negotiating the skinny roads just before lunch, as every Frenchman (professionals, shop owners and even the police) are racing home to have their lunch. And when I say racing, I mean RACING. You might have heard the saying ‘in every Frenchman beats the heart of a formula one racing driver’ – nothing could be closer to the truth. Believe me, it’s scary – especially in the Citroën 2CV, sans seat belts and with an average speed of 75 km/h.
Franki has been doing a lot of sight seeing from her pram with the hashtag on Instagram #travelswithfrancesca – I hope Instagram is around still when she is older so she can see all the places she visited, but just in case we will be printing some and putting them into a photo album.
Every evening we walk out the front door and explore the valley. Most of the dirt roads lead to somewhere beautiful, with vines on either side and often we pop out somewhere special, like this tennis court which appeared out of nowhere. Occasionally you hit a dead-end and wander back to the left turn you noticed 1 km earlier!
I’m pleased to say our market visits with Franki in the pram have been a great success. One of my favourite markets is in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which is generally quite packed because of its popularity. Seth loves a good market but after 5 minutes of picking out his traditional Provencal sausage options for the week, he is quite over it and just thinking about lunch. So we barge through the crowds with the pram (very useful and highly recommended – even if you don’t have a baby) to secure a good table at Cafe de France and I leave him there with Franki so I can run around trying to find more vintage French linen, antique letters/postcards and old vintage photos of French families to buy. It really is fascinating looking at letters from 100 years ago. Some start with ‘Mon Cherie’ – Gosh how romantic! I have collected a full draw so far – for the shop one day..
If all goes according to plan, I get back to the table and find a café creme and a diet coke waiting for me. And more often than not that is followed by a glass of rosé and the most delicous croque-monsieur!
Menerbes….oh my word! This little village has captured our hearts and we have become quite nosy in the process! Due to the layout of the village the various homes’ front doors are often wide open to the passers-by on foot and wow, have we seen some interiors. My husband chirped ‘how could I,’ when I walked past and took the photograph of the inside you see in the pic below. Well if I have a terrace inside my home one day that is what I want it to look like! I can see why the owners decided to put up a curtain so – as my husband put it to me – nosy people don’t try to take pictures. I could not believe my luck when not only the front door was open but the curtain was to the side!
And the same goes for the church (not the same church we got married in but a smaller chapel) that is always closed or in service and very private – well one day the door was open…. and i got the shot for my #travelswithfrancsca series! And just look at that ceiling?
Things to know;
- When walking down the longest cheese isle at the Auchan (in the world – like a Walmart), look out for the cheese boursin!
- Try not to buy Norwegian salmon but rather Scottish salmon who have supposed better ways to farming salmon
- When saying ‘santé (cheers), for God’s sake don’t clink your glasses
- And don’t you dare say ‘bon appetite’ before eating – it’s considered rude – one needs to savour these things.
- If the Deux Chevaux wont start, just make sure you have the spanner in the boot to hit the carburetor a couple of times – trust me this works!
- And, my favourite – a double rainbow is considered good luck – so happy we saw one on our last day!