A longtime blog reader, and "feel like I know you friend" Peggy came to our part of the world for a month long visit with her husband Bob. They settled into our town on the boarder of two great regions, and dove deep into the slow lifestyle travel. Everyday they went to an off the beaten trail to a local market, where English was not heard and because of that the reality that this is France, and not catering to the tourist but to the locals who live here. They gathered their daily meal, plus baguette and wine from the local vendors, then had lunch in the walled garden where they were staying. Each afternoon they would head out on one of the many local trails into the Saint Baume forest. We live at the base of Saint Baume where tourist barely thread:
met boar hunters,
where they walked miles in the forest that Napoleon came to claim for his war machine and ended up declaring it holy and left it intact.
This summer we have at least fifty or so guests, some have stayed with us, some have stayed in the tiny house and recently in the house next door. Each guest/friend has left our little non touristic town declaring it holy and leaving it as it is...
far off the beaten trail.
With pleasure I would like to share Peggy's blog post about our town:
"The British author, Peter Mayle describes me best; I am not a scholar. Rather, a dreamer, one who crowds a collage of perfectionistic photos and places them (complete with fragrance and aroma) percolating and illustrated 'on location' in my fixated fantasy land; recently, Provence.
MP and I dove into the deep end; during September we settled in a small out-of-the-way village, Saint-Zacharie, nestled in the hills of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur at the foot of Saint Baume Massif.
Rooted in remote mind-boggling history, the sweet hamlet is located on the edge of the Huveaune River, flowing with life-giving water and mythical fairy lore. (Although, the river was dry this year for the first time in twelve).
Off the beaten track, without a monument, museum, or lavish fête in sight, its proximity to the sea, countryside, and terraced medieval towns makes a seamless dot from which to ‘slow travel’.
Facebook video here:
Without an agenda, we settled into a ‘guardian house’ attached to a massive 300-year-old home situated in a walled garden where notable trees, trailing vines, and hiding bushes--according to Arnaud who spent boyhood holidays in the garden-- speak to each other and applaud the towering Au Grand Cedre, who claps his hands and in a deep voice dominates over them all, I imagine.
We slept well and took time to listen to cooing doves, French schoolchildren on the boulevard below, and the bells of St. Zac chiming on the hour ( if you forget to count, a re-chime occurs a moment later); a pure melodic heartbeat signaling a call to set aside unspoiled mealtime, worship, celebrate and to mourn.
A zillion trails in fragrant forests, some steep strewn with rocks and steps, others with wide open red soil, earth and sheer cliffs leading us to Calanques de Cassis, carried us over 90 miles in 25 days.
Slow days, simple pleasures of the daily baguette and a bright, juicy melon, fresh green markets, touring bigger cities, cathedrals, synagogues, rows of Brocante wonders, even an endless cheese trolley, allowed us to be present in the moment.
Our senses were seduced, our bellies indulged, and we were cared for with only a few words of French in our quiver. Unassuming ambassadors, guests of another culture to respect, we knew if we were polite, kind, unhurried, able to laugh at ourselves, puff appropriately, shrug and hold an open palm of coins when the math eluded us, spontaneous bouts of infectious laughter ensued--buying mosquito repellant in the pharmacy comes to mind.
Doors widened; new friendships tendered vulnerable conversations, and old-fashioned genteel correspondences came about.
Therefore, short of a novel, I posted an abridged summation of our treks, food foibles and triumphs on Facebook during #septinfrance with photos and comments. Many of you tagged along which presented a super highway moving picture postcard of inspiration.
When we left St. Zac for Paris (another thunderous bolt for the oozing senses) at the end of the trip, I wrote this of our 20 days,
Our last day in St. Zac meant pack... we lingered a little longer when our neighbors invited us to share a lunch of purplish green artichokes (with the biggest hearts), sliced beets, cheeses, and sourdough baguette below the grand cedar in the garden. Being o'so polite, I took a few pictures of our new friends. I dragged my bag, feet, and heart to the gate, looked up to lime green pomegranates and yet to flower wisteria vines; equally green. A source close to the garden said, "Stay until we bloom."
More reflections may indeed come forward!
Photo source: Yann Rolland-Benis
Thank you, Corey and Yann for your generous spirits' and mischevious gifts-- ♥
If you have found my blog because you too know Corey Amaro and hers, Tongue in Cheek, message me for the details to glean what I learned to make your dream happen too!"