Monday, July 06, 2020

Sunday Morning Market

Every Sunday, our routine is to go to Esperaza market.
It closed during the lockdown, or confinement as we called it in France, but now is as crowded as it was in previous summers. 
This picture captures the bohemian spirit of Esperaza. 
Yes, that is a cornucopia hat on his head as he carries his instrument. You might assume a guitar,
but don't, because it could be a Medieval stringed instrument that you don't know. 
The first few weeks after lockdown, the town required masks for anyone attending the market. Now that we're more than a month out of confinement, maybe a quarter of the people wear masks, and the people patrolling the bridges to make sure shoppers wear masks, are gone.
Earl and I wear masks when we're walking around but not when we are sitting at a cafe. We especially wanted to wear our masks when an influx of British people began visiting this area of the country. I would feel the same way if a bunch of Americans came to visit. Coronavirus isn't under control in those two areas of the world.
This man plays the banjo while waiting to sell jams, oils and breads
You can get fresh food like fruits and vegetables, or cooked food, like paella, rotisserie chickens, potatoes, or egg rolls. Some mornings we buy egg rolls and eat them as we walk back to the car, but the French don't really eat food as they walk. It's supposed to be more of a dining experience. It's hard to get the American out of us!

Guess what he is selling? Baskets, so he might as well work on one while he's waiting for customers. 
Some of the vendors don't waste their time simply selling their products, they are busy making more, like this basketmaker. It looks more like a wagon wheel to me, but he's the expert.

The material in this booth is amazing. 
You can always find inexpensive clothes at the market, cotton dresses from "Italy" but some of the stalls in Esperaza have hand-loomed material. The colors are gorgeous.

Here you can buy handmade hats, headbands, necklaces, knickknacks.
We bought Grace some fancy gloves from here before Christmas. 
I love the variety of the Esperaza market. There are locally produced products you aren't going to find anywhere else. There's even a stall filled with musical instruments that I know the great nieces and nephews would love. But I won't do that to their parents.
We walk over a bridge going to and from the market. The town has just added flowers to the bridge.
You can tell from the sparkling river and the blue sky that it was a stellar day in the South of France on Sunday.
Here you can see the various people headed across the bridge to Esparaza
Back home in Grandview, we would have gone to mass at the Newman Center and maybe gone to brunch with friends. Or maybe we would have walked to Grandview Avenue for an expensive brunch, or just a cup of coffee at the Grind. It's a different experience, here in France, but one we're soaking in and holding onto every memory.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Bathed in Color -- Art Projected

Our trip last week took us to Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence.
We visited two years ago when our sons were in France. Now we had the opportunity to take Grace and Jack. 
Love these blues
The show changes twice a year. When we went before, it was Pop Art along with Picasso and the Spanish Masters.  We preferred the Pop Art because it was so cheery and the music was upbeat.
This time, the exhibit was Gaudi and Dali.
The Gaudi exhibit started first. I loved it.

You can imagine how it feels to stand in these colors. 
Gaudi, of course, is the architect for the famous basilica -- La Sagrada Familia --  in Barcelona
We could visit the basilica while hundreds of miles away in France. 
The colors make the old mine come alive.
Earl had to go back to the car because he had his prescription sunglasses on and wisely figured he might need his regular glasses in the dark. So he missed the beginning of the Gaudi exhibit. I insisted he stay for the next one so this is what it looked like as I filmed it. It begins with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Heavenly.

As the music plays and the art comes to life, people can walk around, moving into different areas of the exhibit. Because of Coronavirus, everyone was required to wear masks and we had our temperatures taken before we walked in. They also limited the number of people inside the building so we were able to avoid others.
The second exhibit was Dali, and I'm intrigued by Dali, but have to admit that he is much stranger.

Most of the music they picked for the Dali exhibit could be traced to the 60s and 70s, like Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," which wasn't bad.

The music and pictures are a bit more intense in this one.
After watching the exhibits, we wandered to the open air cafe for drinks. The air outside was clear, the sky an eye-watering blue.
Here's a picture we took earlier that day at the Pont du Gard. 
How lucky were we to see the exhibit and then return to a fabulous day as we drove to Aix en Provence for the night? 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Harrowing Experience

“He fell! He fell! He fell!” I yelled as I ran for the curving staircase from our 2nd-story bedroom down to the living room. 
Have you ever wondered what you would do in an emergency? That’s what I did. Yell to alert the others in the house and race in slow motion to the door to the outside. 
We arrived home today after three nights away. The kitten was in a tizzy - running through the house, jumping over furniture. 
He settled down for a bit as we relaxed after our drive. When I began to prepare for bed, he hopped onto the window sill. 
It made me nervous, but cats all over France hang out on balconies, window sills and evening roofs. In France, windows don’t have screens. That’s how we lean out to close our shutters at night and open them in the morning. 
As I pulled back the cover on our bed, I noticed the cat  watching something outside — a bird, a fly, a lizard. He scurried to one side of the ledge, then the other. 
“Louis!” I cautioned and he reared up on his hind legs to try to bat at something before he tipped over and disappeared head first to the concrete patio below. 
I didn’t stick my head out the window to see what happened, just ran for the stairs yelling as I went. 
Grace and Jack followed hot on my heels, but Earl was already downstairs. He opened the kitchen door and the kitten zoomed inside and hid behind a couch while everyone tried to slow their heart rates. 
We moved the couch and Jack extracted the scared kitten. Everything seemed intact. 
We began to realize that our 15-week-old kitten has fallen from a second-story window to a concrete patio and survived. 

We have to figure out how to put a screen in because I’m afraid with his kitten short term memory, he might continue to do the same thing tomorrow - back on the ledge, tempted by things that move and buzz or chirp. 
I’m so grateful he’s okay. 

Hotel Room Musings

We've spent a lovely few days in Nice.
The port
I walked and ran more than 23,000 steps yesterday exploring the city,
I love the colors here

It reminds me a lot of St. Pete, Florida, now that it's so cosmopolitan. 
 and the weather was warm, but not as warm as it was inland, apparently.
The children relished playing in the mirror fountain in Nice
We used our credit card points to pay for this hotel room and it got me thinking.
Hotel rooms are different all over the world and even within yards of each other, but their little idiosyncrasies sometimes baffle me.
Since we're in Nice celebrating our 30th anniversary, I couldn't help but think that most marriages would not survive a bathroom door like this one.
Hard to get a good shot of it. 
It's not a shower door. That's the door to the bathroom from the hotel room. No latch, no lock, no seal.
You can see the black area where the door doesn't touch the frame. 
Yep, I'm glad we only had a celebration here and not a complete 30-year marriage with a door like this.
We're off on more adventures today. Thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

An Anniversary Celebration in Nice

The beach in Nice, France, is one of the most uncomfortable beaches I have ever been to.
Don't get me wrong, the city is beautiful and the vistas are breathtaking, but if you're in search of a beach to frolic along the Med, choose another place.
The rocky beaches don't keep families from the beach
I knew the beach in Nice was rocky when I made a mistake writing about a trip to Nice in my book The Summer of France. Luckily, a friend corrected me and I was able to go back and edit so that Fia's trip to the beach was filled with softly rounded stones.
My own trip to the beach might have been filled with worn stones, but I had no idea how painful they would be.
Before we went to the beach, I went to a beach shop and bought a 7 euro pair of flip-flops because I had forgotten to pack mine.
I foolishly thought that the flip-flops would protect my feet. They did on the walk down to the water, but the first wave that rolled forward washed a layer of stones between my feet and the shoe.  As I was trying to kick them out, I lost my flip-flop and it started to float away.
The water was chilly, so I sat down on the rocks and soaked my feet, each time another layer of rocks somehow covered my shoe, wiggling between my foot and the sole. Earl swam a bit, sans shoes; he must have tougher feet than I do because he stood on the floor of the sea. After awhile, we decided to head back to the towels. Here was the next tricky bit.
The descent to the sea is a bit steep. So I stood up, emptied the rocks from my shoes. I precariously balanced while I put them back on, only to have another avalanche of pebbles to fill my shoes before I could take my first step.
I realized that I could not walk up the incline with the flip-flops on, so I carried them,  yelping in pain while I climbed to the top of the embankment.
Another pause while I put my flip-flops on and then a brief walk to the towel where, you guessed it, I lay down on a pile of rocks.
It wasn't as bad as trying to walk.
I may have to go in and edit The Summer of France so Fia has as painful an experience as I did.
I have decided that old tennis shoes might be the answer to the rocky beach -- an old pair of converse would have kept the rocks out and saved the pain on my feet. I don't know how all those kids are running and swimming barefoot. I guess they get used to it.
But don't cry for me. This morning, Earl and I simply took the elevator up to the top floor and swam in the pool of our hotel.
This is the curve of the beach where we're staying to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. 

The pool on our rooftop

The view from the rooftop
We came to Nice to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, which was Tuesday.
We traveled with Grace and Jack to the Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman aqueduct,
An amazing feat built in the first century AD
then we traveled to Carrières de Lumières, where art is projected on the walls of an old limestone mine and brought to life.

We've seen three exhibitions here. This one was Gaudi and Dali. 
Then we spent the night in Aix en Provence before leaving Grace and Jack behind. We used our credit card points to book a hotel in Nice, and now we have a lovely break along the shore.
But you won't catch me swimming. If only I'd packed some old tennis shoes.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Chateau de Queribus

Another day, another castle.

Just kidding! I can never get tired of the amazing historical sights to see in France.
As we were driving back home through a small village, I had one of those moments where I was reminded of a different small village and good times we had spent there. I just thrill to the idea that this is where I live now.
Will it grow old or be outweighed by the amount I miss my sons and parents back home? It is harder with travel limited and knowing that I can't see my family if I want to.
Today's adventure took us to a former Cathar castle down near Perpignan. You can find a link to the website in English here.
Here's the castle atop the mountain as we drove toward it. 
But the first time it's mentioned in history is 1020. It was the last stronghold of the Cathars in 1255 before King Louis IX, St. Louis, took it over and made it a fortress for France along the border of Spain.
Looking for a room with a view?
Well, I can vouch that the view into Spain is fabulous. You can see the Pyrenees, down to the Mediterranean from here. But the wind climbing up to the mountain would have been enough to turn me around. Perhaps the soldiers were made of sterner stuff. (Obviously!) The views were amazing.
Selfie with the view behind us. 
It's nice to be out and about, showing Grace and Jack some of the sights in our part of France.
Plenty of air inside the castle. 

Goofy selfie -- just us standing out as Americans

Something divine inside the cathedral
 Although Grace had visited France several times before, she hadn't been to this part of southern France. And Jack's arrival is his first time on mainland Europe.

The soaring vaulted ceiling of the chapel
People are sometimes surprised to hear us speaking our accented French. They expect to only see French people in France because of the confinement, like the woman who sold us the tickets to the chateau on Wednesday.
She asked our nationality and I told her American, but that we lived in Quillan.
Wind-blown but enjoying the sunny day

We could see for miles and miles and miles and... 

We followed the chateau visit with a picnic in Cucugnan in the shadow of an old moulin, with a stop at the bakery underneath the windmill for some cookies for dessert.
More adventures to come!

Friday, June 05, 2020

Publication Day

Today you can get my latest novel Falling for Provence.

This is the continuation of the story of Fia, who traveled to Provence to help her uncle run a bed & breakfast. She found trouble and adventure, and guess what finds her again?
Fia struggles with the loneliness of raising her teenage twins by herself and somehow entwines herself in more art intrigue -- this time at the Louvre in Paris.
There's romance, adventure and family life, along with some folklore that could bring peace to the Middle East. Not too much for one Ohio girl to handle.
Here are the links for Falling for Provence on in the States.
Falling for Provence in the UK
Falling for Provence in France.
Also available on Barnes & Noble Nook at Falling for Provence.
And Kobo at Falling for Provence
Don't worry if you haven't read the first novel, The Summer of France. This one is a stand alone. But go back and read it if you want. It's free on Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo.
That's a lot of links, but I'm asking you if you think you might someday buy my new book, please consider buying it today or this weekend to help new readers find my book.
As always, I truly appreciate your support and hope that you enjoy reading Falling for Provence.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Cover Reveal

In just two days, my new novel Falling for Provence will be released.

Don't you love this cover? Grandview Heights artist Janna Thompson-Chordas created it for me, along with redoing the cover for The Summer of France.
Falling for Provence is the second book in A New Life in Provence series, coming after The Summer of France. 
You can read this book without reading The Summer of France, but I have made The Summer of France free on Barnes & Noble's Nook platform and on Kobo

Thanks to everyone for your support. You can bet that I'll be reminding you on Friday in hopes you'll buy the ebook on Amazon.

Sunday Morning Market

Every Sunday, our routine is to go to Esperaza market. It closed during the lockdown, or confinement as we called it in France, but now is...