Monday, January 30, 2012

a Quaint Little Village in the South of France

Vauvert taken from above the village
It was after midnight when we finally drove into the little village that would be my home.  I was already confused with all the round-a-bouts and signs going in all directions... so I'm kind of amazed we even got to the village.  All I kept saying was the streets are so small, the place is so OLD.  I could practically hear the legions of Roman soldiers' sandals slapping the cobblestone as they marched through the country expanding the empire bringing through armies and trade goods. 

We parked the car and walked through the square arm in arm. My first walk through the village. There was a woman leaning out her window on her elbows smoking a cigarette watching us drag the luggage behind us; wheels cackling and crackling on the cobblestone streets.  Her eyes followed us up our little street but she had to lean forward slightly to see which door we entered just off the square.  I can imagine the talk … “hey ya know that old marquis, he just brought a woman home… what up with that??”  ok, I don’t know French yenta-speak yet…

We finally walked into our door (and up 3 flights of steps) and collapsed on the couch.  Ian made some aperitifs and a really nice, light dinner for us.  I had seen the apartment many times on the internet and in photos and videos, so I kind of felt like I was walking into a very familiar place.  I felt very comfortable both in the flat and with Ian.  We picked up right where we left off.  It felt as natural as that.  We were so happy to finally be together and as comfortable as we had always felt. I knew this was the right thing.  After talking and eating and laughing, we were both exhausted and went to bed.  We slept soundly in each other's arms.  It was a peaceful and long sleep.  

The next morning we didn't have a lot of time to lounge around as we had to go the market in the village (Saturdays and Wednesdays). We had a lot to get because Ian's godson was coming over for Pentecost Sunday and it was the first time I'd be meeting him. Ian was preparing a gourmet meal for the occasion.  I'm a late sleeper but Ian jumps out of bed in the morning like popped toast.. ready to bring on the day. I, more or less, need to be dragged out of bed with a promise of coffee and a nice breakfast. Ok, well, it still it takes me until I hear the percolator working before my feet hit the floor.   I do have to say... a coffee snob I always was, and Starbucks/Seattle's Best were the only 2 American coffees I'd drink... but I gotta admit, I have NOT had a bad cup of Joe since I've hit the continent... Europeans know their coffee!

I walked in to the kitchen for my first European breakfast... really not too different from the breakfasts I knew as a child... bread and butter and coffee mostly. What really struck me was what I saw out of the kitchen window. It was a December morning and I saw terracotta tiles across roofs as far as you can see. I saw white, whispy clouds hanging under a sky of such a color blue, you just knew Crayola didn't have the right crayon for it; and a light that cast such a hue that you're not sure if it's real or a dream... I immediately could see why all these painters had to come here to paint.  It's the light.

Local wines are
often bought
in quantity
using plastic jugs
a Landing Smack in the Middle of Wine Country.... how convenient.
Winery in Vauvert
The Languedoc is the central region in the south of France that stretches from the Rhone Valley in the east to the Spanish border in the southwest. We live in one of the Mediterranean coastal departments called the Gard.  Wine grows easily here.  It’s been said that grapevines have existed in the south of France since the Pliocene period… that would be before homo sapiens.  The local wines here in Vauvert have not disappointed.  It is some of my favorite wines… and if you knew how cheap we get it for… you’d drool!

The winery here in Vauvert was having a tasting for the holiday season.  Ian and I walked down there to taste some of the wines and cheese and charcuterie.  It was very festive.  They had all kinds of wines in various stages of wine “growth” some were at the beginning which were paler and gave the same wine a completely different taste.  I know NOTHING about wines… I didn’t drink before I got to France… funny, now I drink wines and aperitif’s all day long… The local wine is so cheap here people come and get it for a couple of Euros in big plastic gallon jugs…yes, the exact same wines we pay $20 bucks a bottle for back in the States.

a Saturday Market in Vauvert during Christmas Season
There isn't a Saturday or Wedsnesday that goes by without the Vauvert Market.  Here you can buy things from shoes and clothes to house gadgets and jewelry... but mostly, mostly you can buy the freshest most beautiful fruits and vegetables you could imagine.  Not only that, but you can also find pastries, cookies, charcuterie (cold cuts) all kinds of olives and wierd things I never saw before.  I love the market.  

During the Christmas season, the market is even more interesting...  Santas and elves played checkers with kids on huge boards and carousels and horse drawn Santas threw candies out to the kiddies.  Gotta love the colorful clowns with balloons.  Yes, Vauvert is a very festive place... It was really nice to see.  Of course, it still has it's excellent foods, which we dutifully picked up or ordered for Christmas.  I was surprised to see that the turkey is very popular as a Christmas dinner here... and even more surprised to see that in the market, they give you the turkey with the head on and decorated in all it's finest plumage.  Not sure if I found that morbid or respectful.  Obviously, it was traditional. 

This is where I usually
buy a baguette...
pas trop cuit sil vous plait!
Oh by the way... you know, the bread here is like no other.  Plus you get it straight from the Boulangerie HOT and FRESH... you can't imagine how hard it is not to break into it before it even gets to the door of our house.   I like to go buy it cause I know what to say, it's cheap and the girl knows me.  

The boulangerie (above) is not usually this crowded, but I think this was just before Christmas so everyone was stocking up.  They have lots of other delicious looking things I'd love to try, but Ian isn't a "sweet" eater... so I'm just "biding my time" for a pastry attack.  Then watch out... if you're in there... I warn you... step AWAY from the pastries!

One of the nice things about a hard day at the market... is that you can always stop at the cafe on the square for a little espresso and people-watching.  Plus, when you're done, there isn't that far to go since the cafe is about 10 footsteps away from our front door... how's THAT for convenience???  Well, ok, so there's still the 41 steps straight up once you get in the door... but that's another story!

All in all, life here in Vauvert is quite pleasant.  The village itself has it's own gentle rhythm and everything you need is within walking distance.  The people are very friendly, and everyone is super polite!  It's amazing... everyone says bon jour, calls you madame, shakes your hand, says sil vous plait and merci and bon journee and eager to help even if they can't communicate well with you.  When you greet someone you know, it's always a 3-cheek kiss (not 2) and people who know who you are, go out of the way to say hello even if they're across the square.  

I'm really liking my new home :)


  1. It's a four kiss "hello" in my part of France.

    So glad to have found your blog.


    1. Thank you SP, glad to have you aboard... Ian says that sometimes it's a four-kisser here as well... though I've mainly seen three. I did see a four-kisser a few days ago, but I thought they were REALLY glad to see each other... LOL



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