After my farmhouse renovation time was cut short by doctor's orders, fortunately I had a plan B: to stay in Provence with my "French brother" from my exchange student days in high school.
Thierry and I have been friends since I was 16. He lives in St.-Remy-de-Provence and is a bread baker in the next village over.
St.-Remy-de-Provence feels like a French version of my hometown Mill Valley, that is, if Mill Valley smoked cigarettes. Population ~10,000, chock-full of charming alleyways, shady squares, stylish restaurants and boutiques, art galleries, farmers markets, fancy cars and tourists. (I have a similar love-hate relationship with St. Remy as I do with Mill Valley, for the above-mentioned reasons.)
St. Remy boasts a loooooong history. In 600BC, Gallic tribes settled nearby at the base of the beautiful Alpilles mountain range around an important spring. The Salyens built a prosperous city here in 200BC imbued with Greek influences, and then the Romans took it over, renamed it Glanum, and built temples, baths, theaters and a forum. But it primarily remained a religious sanctuary around the sacred spring. In 260AD, Glanum succumbed to barbarian invasions and the remaining population moved 1km down the road to what is now St. Remy. Old town St. Remy is surrounded by 14thC walls, Nostradamus was born here in 1503, and Van Gogh stayed in a psychiatric hospital here in 1889, painting some of his most beautiful paintings including "Starry Night." The surrounding countryside has long been agricultural, filled with fields of veggies, sunflowers, lavender, and olive trees.
Every year on June 21st, all of France celebrates la Fête de la Musique and amateur musicians perform in every city, town and village. Everyone comes out to enjoy all kinds of music!
Early mornings here are sublime ...
... especially with this little guy, Nougat (pronounced noo-gah), Thierry's charming and often rambunctious puppy!
My favorite thing to do here is walk Thierry's puppy Nougat in the early morning before it gets HOT.
Nougat likes to eat our shoes when we're not looking ...
Then comes LUNCH, the biggest meal of the day ... Bon appétit!
... then the obligatory siesta.
Fortunately there's still a lot of water here in the form of fountains, canals, aqueducts, and pools. It is so hot, usually in the 90s (not at all like cool Mill Valley), so pool time in the backyard is also obligatory!
There's also a magnificent municipal pool in Maussane-les-Alpilles, the next village over on the other side of Les Alpilles, where I swim laps daily.
After so much work these past few months and years, this time in Provence has been a blessing. To rest, relax, and rejuvenate before embarking on my farming internship in August. Merci Thierry and merci Provence!