May in the South of France
Mom and Dad have come to visit for two weeks. At 83 and 86 they are a marvel at traveling across time zones and enduring the long plane flight to France. Visiting with us and Zoe-Pascale was their main objective with of course a little bit of shopping for Mom in the Uzes marche. Walking her to school, then trekking back to the Tabac (where you buy newpapers and cigarettes and lotto tickets) for the Herald Tribune and back to the Bar du Marche (the happening cafe in St. Quentin) Mom and Dad went every morning. The cafe booming with tourists this time of year kept Mom busy visiting with English speaking tourists from various countries. By the end of the week they knew exactly what to order and were on first name basis with Natalie and Ramon the new owners. Jean and I would take our morning 5K walk and often join them for a cafe creme before starting our work for the day.
On Wednesday we all ventured to Uzes for dance class, lunch and then Karate. In between we peppered the visit with a drink at some new English friends who live in a great house surrounded by olive trees. In exchange for an Olive expert taking care of their trees they get liters upon liters of olive oil a year to use.
An Older couple Jean met in the cafe at lunch one day invited us over for drinks to their Grand Mas in another nearby village. One of the greatest enjoyments is going to these old mas' and seeing what they really look like. Beautifully restored with a fabulous garden and more olive trees we wondered what it would be like to have such a house. We are always thinking that and planning our dream house here in the south of France. Olive trees are definetly part of the picture along with a view, sunny terrace looking onto a manageable garden and pool.
At one point Zoe-Pascale accidentally fell (after performing a somersault) and the madame whipped out a bottle of what she called "Magic ointment" from an abbey an hour away -Abbaye St. Frigoulet. After discussing the merits of the ointment (a variety of herbs) and the only place to buy it was the Abbaye, the next day we set off to buy a bottle. Supposedly a fantastic ointment for healing the skin.
The Abbaye itself was a great surprise with a hotel, restaurant and hiking surrounding the grand buildings. The ointment was set prominently in the store and probably picked by hand by the nuns for the price.... We bought smaller bottles than she had deciding to try its merits and would return for the bigger bottle if needed.
On Wednesday we trekked to Uzes for dance class, (cafe creme for us) lunch (yes we continue to eat and drink) and karate. Zoe-Pascale has just earned her yellow belt this week!!!! Granny and Partner were amazed at how she could defend herself when someone grabbed her (in practice) and she knew where and how to kick and hit... A must for any girl!
The best part is she loves Karate which is probably due to a fabulous woman teacher who is a great model for her.
The days passed by leisurely with great visits, discussions on the purpose of life and a lot of love laughter and reading. Mom and Dad were so happy to see Zoe-Pascale read books of all varieties in English and French fluently. She has become an avid reader and at times wouldn't even talk to us as she preferred to read a book. Her favorites right now are the 306 page Mickey Mouse comic books in French, books on Greek gods (with no pictures) chapter books like the BoxCar Children or Sabrina and the newspaper.
One day she came home from school and recited to us every article she had read in a French kids newspaper at school.
"Did you know that Bush did something right! she yelled. " No, we answered back, what?" "He signed a bill that saved the polar bears from extinction. At least he did something right," she answered. And on and on the stories went.
Right now she is sitting in the office playing with all her polly pocket dolls as we work on the computer. She says hello!
Back to the Purpose of Life. A question I haven't really discussed with my parents before. Their answer they said has evolved "To enjoy life everyday." And I think they really know how.... Dad did say that he missed his calling in a career and would have done it differently but during his lifetime it wasn't so easy or acceptable. A reminder of this journey we are on!
Jean's mom who also gave us her words of advice when we visited in December said it was so important to use your creative side when you are young before your eyesight and body gives out from one thing or another. Use your creative talents and love now, don't wait, were her guiding words.
Argeles Sur Mer, Perpignan, and Collioure (southwest France on the coast)
Over the long weekend we headed out for Argeles sur Mer near Perpignan and the town of Collioure. Staying in a wonderful little hotel not far from the beach we played and wandered as the weather permitted (it rained part of the time). The beauty of this beach surprised Jean and I as the surrounding mountains provided a different type of beauty not usual to the coastline.
Perpignan, a city we haven't visited in years was restored with a beautiful canal and shops along the promenades. Definitely worth a longer visit next time.
The village of Collioure is what was the biggest surprise as it was a town we had never heard of visiting. Once I mentioned where we were going to my French teacher, Maryse, she insisted we make it a major stopping point.
The heritage of Collioure is a result of a rich history made of successive invasions. Monuments were built, destroyed and built again. As a former strategically important point on the Catalan coast, Collioure is built of many fortifications.
Collioure has always been a source of inspiration for artists. Writers, poets, singers and painters fell under Collioure’s charm. That is also why Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Dufy Chagall, Marquet, and many others set up their easels here and immortalized the small Catalan harbor in their works. With approximately thirty galleries and many artists from the entire world, Collioure still is the ”City of Painters.” Not only I, but Jean and Dad were so inspired we all wanted to paint. I promised Dad we would send photos to copy and he could get started immediately.
Here are some photos of what we want to paint, but we will embelish with a bluer, bluer sky.
From up above Collioure
Feel free to paint this as well. If you ever get to the southwest of France I strongly recommend staying in this area as it is beautiful and different.
As many towns and villages have in France, Collioure had a Petit Train to take us around and up into the hills above. A great way to go with all ages including the dog!
and with sheer luck with also hit Collioure the day they had a Marche. I bought some beautiful prints from an artist who I loved. Another inspiration to paint and Mom found some salt and pepper shakers. A picnic on the beach and a drink in the cafe we had a great day!
Thanks for a great visit Mom and Dad. We love you!!!!