Traverse City Record-Eagle


Snippets of Sunshine

Jo Anne Wilson, Letters From FranceI’m down to the last month of my winter stay in Provence. Actually, it’s going on eight months. Spring has been a little reluctant to appear. There are, however, a few signs of warmer days. The sunshine yellow forsythia is full. Early daffodils and violets provide dabs of yellow and purple to the drab ground. Although the cherry trees are only showing feeble signs of blossoms, the almond trees are in full array.

Coustellet Market reopened. This marché paysan/farmers market operates from Easter through Christmas on Sunday morning. There are no big vans of merchandise, or massive displays of souvenirs. It is primarily little white vans pulled into the parking lot, where the local folks display their wares … mostly agricultural in nature. Oh, you’ll find some pottery, some jewelry, and a few stalls of clothing. These are, however, far outnumbered by the produce displayed on a table — salad greens, spinach, cabbage, onions and apples — all lovingly dispensed by hands that show the results of many hours of pulling weeds, and harvesting crops. Of course, no market is complete without the chickens roasting on a spit.

With thanks to my friends Paul and Anne, who run a small tour business and oversee rental properties, I visited a new village. Followers of this blog are acquainted not with Paul and Anne, but with their feline family of Sebastian, Ellie, and Frankie.

That day, Paul and Anne were doing some research on a walking trail located south of the Luberon/Vaucluse. We made a stop in the village of Eygalières. What a bonus to find it was market day! Nothing big … just local merchants selling cheese, olive oil, meat, and fish.

Eygalières is south of the better-known city of St. Rémy de Provence. St Rémy is where Van Gogh painted “Starry Night,” Nostradamus was born, and Dr. Albert Schweitzer was prisoner. We were in the department of the Bouches du Rhone. I am constantly surprised by how much terrain and vegetation can change in a short distance. A little over an hour south of the Vaucluse and you see not the rolling hills of the Luberon and Vaucluse mountains, but the rough and jagged peaks of the limestone Alpilles.

The area is well known for producing olive oil. We took a hiking trail that led us for a couple of hours wandering through groves of olive trees. Stunningly blue wild flowers poked up from the rocky terrain. It was a full day of exploring and enjoying nature and the scenery.

Here in the Luberon, we’ve had a lot of rain, and below normal temperatures.  In between the rainy days, however, there have been snippets of sunshine. There’s a promise that soon the hills and valleys will be in full bloom. I always say that if you really want to see and experience an area, you need to get out and walk the markets, the olive groves, and the hillsides.  Last week, I did just that, with a group of expats.

Time to get out and enjoy. On y va!  Let’s go!

  • Ashlea Walter

    Fun to hear about your travels and thanks for being such a great guide and friend to my Dad, Gene Turner, while he was in your neck o’ the woods!

  • Jo Anne

    I’m happy you enjoy reading about my travels. Having your dad here this winter was such a morale booster for me, to say nothing of the benefit of having his excellent photographs to include in my blogs and Facebook page.

  • Evelyn

    Jo Anne, Markets are wonderful and your pictures bring it to life with the fresh produce and chicken ready to eat!

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