When I met Yann he did not speak English, and I did not speak French.
Yes, it was tad hard to communicate. You might say it was the language of love. Which it was with a lot of sign language.
After one year of living in the States, Yann was speaking English.
We moved to France.
I thought that when we arrived in France, Yann would speak to me in French.
We kept on speaking English.
I gathered French words here and there.
At the grocery store, at the post office, at a dinner party...
The first words I learned were basic:
Merci = Thank you.
Bonjour = Hello.
Combien = How much?
Oui = Yes.
Sortie = Exit.
Rue = Street.
Enchanté... Which I heard people say to me when they first met me. "Nice to meet you."
Learning French was not easy. It was frustrating. I was frustrated. Twenty five years ago when I would ask a French storekeeper, or someone on the street, "Parlez-vous Anglais?" They gave me a frustrating, "Non." Smiling was not in their vocabulary.
Yann kept speaking English to me. His English improved and my French, well, did not.
A few years later we had some babies.
I wanted them to speak English, to be bi lingual.
If you have ever lived in a bi lingual household you know the gift and the grit of daily conversation. Yann spoke French to the children, as did the rest of the land. I spoke English to them. I soon learned that if my children were to be completely bi lingual I was going to have to talk, and talk alot. Otherwise their vocabulary was going to be limited to: Get yours shoes. Come and eat. Button your coat. Sit still. Go to sleep.
I read books. Many of them. Suitcases full of books.
Chelsea and Sacha are utterly bi lingual. Flawlessly. No accents. It is my pride and joy accomplishment. During that time my French took a back seat.
I could go on and on, story after story, day after day, gift and grit of learning French while, teaching English to two little people.
But I will save that for another day.
Nearly two weeks ago I decided, against Yann's wishes, to speak only French to him.
I speak French. With the heaviest of accents, but understandable nevertheless. Though the real challenge isn't the speaking part, it is the feeling that I am not me. I feel like I am a different person... really weird.
Wednesday Word... is created... the story of speaking in French.
Provence rocky soil, blue sky, Mediterranean coastline, tiled roof tops, wild country side...
Each region of France has its key elements, its personality, its style.
Provence can be described in color: Yellow, blue, burnt orange...
Described by taste: Garlic, olive, tomato, basil, melon, almond...
Provence can be described by flowers: Lavender, poppies, sunflowers...
Antique Provencal confit pots from Apt
Yellow confit pots are were very common in Provence. The held table scraps, mostly the fat off the lamb as to say. The larger ones were used to hold larger pieces "lard" after buthering, the smaller ones were used on the kitchen table.
As the soil in Provence is dry, mostly rocky, grapes, olives and goats do well here. Confit pots were a welcome item to collect and safe keep the fat of the barren land.
Costal towns, small ports, colorful facades.
Fountains in the center of town, with cool spring water, to help one cool off.
With that said, my favorites are Cassis, Cotignac, Sanary, mainly little towns that only have a a cafe, bakery, church and of course a brocante on Sunday.
Two antique olive jars that I recently bought at the Barjac antique fair.
As Provence covers a large space, you will need a car. Most of the towns are an hour or two apart.
Either stay somewhere in the middle of Provence, such as Aix en Provence (click on links to see small charming hotels), or Gemenos. Or stay on the far end of Provence and work your way to the opposite side.
Stone walls in Gordes
Stone walls that go on for miles and miles.
Rows of plantain trees,
Fields of olive trees and farm houses called Mas.
"A mas was a largely self-sufficient economic unit, which could produce its own fruit, vegetables, grain, milk, meat and even silkworms. It was constructed of local stone, with the kitchen and room for animals on the ground floor, and bedrooms, storage places for food and often a room for raising silkworms on the upper floor. Not every farmhouse in Provence is a mas. A mas was distinct from the other traditional kind of house in Provence, the bastide, which was the home of a wealthy family.
The mas of Provence and Catalonia always faces to the south to offer protection against the mistral wind coming from the north. And because of the mistral, there are no windows facing north, while on all the other sides, windows are narrow to protect against the heat of summer and the cold of winter. A mas is almost always rectangular, with two sloping roofs. The mas found in the mountains and in the Camargue sometimes has a more complex shape." via Wiki.
Antique Provencal confit bowl.
Provence: Regional Specialties to lick your lips from here to eternity:
When in Provence you must taste Bouillabaisse, fish stew. Miramar restaurant in Marseille is the place to go:
"Every 3rd Thursday of the month, join Christian Buffa and his team to discover the preparation of this marseillaise recipe: Bouillabaisse. The cooking class is open to all, whether cook, gourmet or one simply keen on learning this recipe which is much appreciated by Marseillaise and anyone having had the opportunity to taste it. Classes begin at 9.30 am and finish at 2.00 pm with the tasting of the Bouillabaisse prepared during the session."
The best time to visit Provence is: May through September.
Though with that said, August can be very warm, and swarming with tourists.
May and June are flawless.
If you don't like garlic...
Oh so sad for you.
Provence and garlic go mouth to mouth, I mean hand to hand.
Goat cheese ratatouille terrine from Le Galusha, a wonderful restaurant in Carpentras:
(30 Place de l'Horloge, Carpentras).
My friend Mo's kitchen cupboard, made from two old windows.
A friend who lives up the hill called. He reminded me that he was make a haul to the dump. I threw the phone down and raced up the hill. He lives in an old big house. His style is art deco. Anything not deco was going to the dump. Including three door panels with ribbons, bows and flowers. A bit girly even for me. But the dump is no home for an antique girly or not!
Carrying them home I went through the apartment in Paris in my mind, wondering how or if I could use them:
Living room... no.
Entrance... Doors are needed for the closets, but these are too small.
Bathroom... Bingo, light bulb moment. I could have the builder transform them into a wall cabinet for toiletries.
When I got home I opened a can of paint, took out some wax... Here is a sneak peek, I am not sure of the final color. But wood, not a nice looking wood at that, is not what I am after.
Hopefully I will work something out. If the panels don't work for the apartment, I will have to find a home for them.
Each Saturday I focus on a different artist that I admire. From potters to painters, chefs to collectors, seamstress to songwriters, lifestyle to lovers... anyone who set the paintbrush, pastry brush, hands and heart on fire to create.
"Love this knotty pillow," was my first thought, then I added, "But I don't think it (they) will be very practical for the apartment rental." Yann rubbed his ears, then fainted from shock... Before he hit the ground he asked, "When are you ever practical?
Later in another shop I saw polka dotted roman blinds, I "Oohed," and went into full description mode of how they could work and look good in the apartment.
"The kitchen has the same palette, it would marry well with these blinds," I was on a roll, "A contemporary baroque feel, is what I am after. Do you think we could make these work: Wooden floors, black stone tiles, chandeliers..."
What do you think?
Lacey, girly is not me... old, muted, peeling is ... with a touch of black.
The comments you all left me when I first started this project keep ringing in my ears, "User friendly." Rings the loudest.
The knotty pillow is not user friendly, naughty pillow.
But then again neither are the 18th century silk patchwork pillows.
How do I stay true to my brocante style and yet stay in tune with user friendly?
At the market fresh asparagus wrapped in a moist towel were resting a wooden crate. I asked the vendor why he had wrapped the asparagus in a moist towel? "Freshly cut so tender you need not cook them." he added, "Did you know that asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, the Apicius from the third century?"De re coquinaria, Book III.
"Of course I knew that. Who doesn't?" I laughed.
I love hearing sales-people talk their jive.
I bought a kilo of the points d'amour ("love tips").
The town market is two minutes from my front door. The "freshly cut" aparagus went from the moist towel, into my shopping cart, then home, rinsed and sauteed.
I cut the asparagus in to bite size pieces, lightly sauteed them in olive oil and garlic. Then I add cream and fresh squeezed lemon juice until the sauce thicken. I mixed the sauce with the pasta and sprinkled it with Parmesan.
°Twenty five years living in France because I married a Frenchman, that I met while dancing in San Francisco° Two children, now in their twenties, amour et joie° I have the "Brocante Bug" which means antiquing is my cure, France can do me no wrong when it comes to treatment ° I'm related to half the population in Willows, California ° Likes to travel on a moments notice. ° Writes whatever strikes a cord, and has taken photos for this blog everyday for the last several years° Merci for following me°