Sunday, April 18, 2010

Provence: The Real Day One

Apt Market
Saturday, April 10

I say 'The Real Day One' because a day in the car hardly counts on a week-long jaunt through Provence, France. Anything worth mentioning (like the glorious gas station sandwiches) was covered in that night's quick visit to the blog from our tiny hotel room.  The next morning in Apt was where the trip really began.

A ten minute walk and we were in the heart of Apt.  The market stands filled all available squares and even a couple parking lots, lining the streets with everything from clothing and tablecloths to cured meats, cheese and bread.  This area of France is known for its expansive lavender fields, and though we were a bit too early for the season, the lavender was abundant from the shops to the market stands, along with spices and herbs prevalent in the region.

We decided that on this trip we would make more of an effort to eat fresh and light during the day, buying from markets and enjoying more of the basics.  This day we bought a few types of salami to try, some fabulous Comte cheese, strawberries, and a simple baguette from the market for lunch, or rather, what would become a few lunches.  Throw on a little Dijon mustard and we had ourselves a wonderful little lunch in a lovely park to one side of  a patch of market stands.

Before we found our spot for lunch we had to walk past a group of guys, and I found myself behaving as if they were a bunch of hooligans who might, at any moment, mug me and spit in my face.  Then I remembered that just because a group of young people happen to be hanging out with saggy pants and rambunctious laughter doesn't automatically mean trouble, and I felt OLD for having felt overly cautious of them.  Also, it's France, not the States.  Somehow, there's a difference.  Sharing park space with these boisterous boys got us a couple nods and otherwise, a nice lunch.

Which is something we found everywhere on this trip, that being friendliness.  I'm not sure if it's a North versus South kind of thing, a theory about which I read in a book given to me by an old family friend prior to moving overseas, or city versus small town, but everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful, language barrier aside.  It was refreshing.


After a deeply satisfying lunch break, we headed to our next stop in an even smaller town, Moustiers-Saint-Marie, built up into the side of a rocky piece of gorgeous.  This town is known for its chapel, Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, which rests high above the town and directly below a golden star from the time of the Crusades that hangs highest of all.

We walked the narrow streets of this charming village, snapping pictures of the view its height offered and enjoying every minute of sun we felt lucky to have.  (We heard it was raining at home.)  I'm usually a sucker for pottery when we travel, so I'm quite sure Chris was happy that I wasn't feeling the local pottery, as shops specializing in the stuff were more common than cafes.  As much of this trip would be, it was a day of walking and climbing, enjoying the weather and the scenery.  And though we speak nearly no French at all, we've become rather skilled at the arts of pantomime and nonverbal communication, and had no real trouble getting across our questions, requests and thank yous.

Need some random?  Feeling compelled to cuddle every dog we saw, and there were many, I missed Heidi, even going so far as to show some strange man her picture on my phone.  I know I'm a geek.

For dinner our first real meal out we ended up at what a couple of British tourists told us Trip Advisor said was the best restaurant in town, Cote Jardin.  A delicious plate of escargot served in a creamy garlic sauce over sliced potatoes, goat cheese cannelloni and a bottle of wine later, we both agreed, without a doubt.

Speaking of calories, since I was not traveling with a pocket-sized gym, the pedometer was my way of keeping track of what kind of activity I was getting in for the week away, and I remembered it most days.

Day One:
Apt Market
9,491 steps
2,573 of those, aerobic

Walking about Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
5,728 steps
forgot to calculate aerobic, but we walked FEW level steps, not including the climb to Notre-Dame

So 15,249 on day one.  Not bad.  Though being that I'm writing this a week after the day I've just described and after this whole trip, I'm a little nervous to say good morning to the scale tomorrow...but even if I gained a couple from this trip, it was worth every delectable bite of cheese and every buttery croissant!

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