Monday, May 14, 2012

Saint Remy de Provence

Sitting outside the Tourist Office at the local hot spot is not the most effective way to blog but we'll do our best. Does anyone know if Blogger has a way of preparing a post off-line?

We left Aix with mixed feelings - we were staying at an average hotel and there was not a lot of interaction with the staff as we have experienced along the way to date. It seems that our front of house person saw it as just a job. Pleasant enough but not overly helpful. Or maybe we have been spoilt with some great people along the way.
Some of the power points were not operational making the bar fridge not working either, not that we needed it. The hotel is called the Le Concorde.
But we left Aix for one whole week in Saint Remy where we could unpack our bags and become part of the local scene. We stayed here in 2008 and it was great to meet our hosts, Josianne and Louie again. We've sent friends here before and they've loved the house. The hosts insist that you join them at their home for a "drink of friendship" during your stay.
On our meeting again after four years, we were welcomed like it was yesterday. I gave Josianne kisses on each cheek but she insisted it was to be three, not two.

We walked into the inner St Remy and there was a wine tasting on with musicians playing - a really nice atmosphere, I think we are truly relaxing after our previous one night stops.
Every thing is so familiar since four years ago. The teddies on the window sills of a store are still there, but they do need a little dry cleaning since our last visit. Some of the lane ways  have been repaved. I guess things change but with St Remy not too much.

The teddies were still there to welcome us back in St Remy.

Sue couldn't wait to get to the Super Marche to buy produce for the night's meal. Duck, potatoes, asparagus with apples. I'll let Sue tell you more. After dinner we took a walk up to the cafe for coffee and a digestive to finish off our first night here.

It was a magret canard gras from the Perigord, so I rendered a lot of fat from it first. All sitting in a bowl in the fridge for another day!
So, crisped up the skin, then popped it in the oven for almost 20 minutes. It weighed half a kilo!
Leon peeled and sliced an apple which I lightly caramelised then added a healthy slurp of sparkling white.
A spoonful of lavender honey, salt and pepper and a slurp of red wine vinegar and good to go.
Sliced and served with lightly cooked asparagus and potatoes sliced and cooked in duck fat.
Oh, I love these low cal meals!

Second Day:
Up early to pick up the girls, Carly and Sharn at the Avignon TGV Gare. Rather than come straight back to the villa, we went into Avignon for them to see the Pont and the Palace of the Popes. We'd been before so we relaxed having lunch while they explored. Mind you, it's a bit hard to relax with the Mistral. It started yesterday late afternoon and is yet to stop. The winds are so strong that when we sat in our villa courtyard under the shade of the umbrella, the winds lifted it out of the table but not before I was able to grab it. I thought I was about to become Mary Poppins.

Palace of the Popes - Avignon.

Paintings on the walls of the Avignon Theatre.

I took the girls for a walk within the city wall of Saint Remy in the afternoon showing some of the more familiar sights including the birthplace home of Nostradamus. Parts of the old city still retain walls and buildings dating back to the 1700s but we've noticed a modernisation since our last time here. New paving in the streets seems to be an ongoing progression within the walls. Festivals are also organised for every month. Only on the Saturday there was a wine festival by the local growers of the districts of Le Baux, the Luberon and the Alpilles.

Other features of the area include Glanum, and the Monastery of St Paul de Mausole, where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last living days. Much of his most familiar works were done here along with Arles.
Glanum is to me the most interesting site as it was only discovered most recently in the 1920s. It was inhabited from 700 BC being a Greek settlement, then Roman and afterwards destroyed by Barbarian invasions. When Van Gogh painted scenes of this particular area, it was still undiscovered even though Roman monuments were clearly visible from across the road that runs out of town and out to Le Baux.

We will be off to St Paul and Glanum later today with the girls so we'll post that tomorrow.


  1. Yum! That duck with caramelized apples looks divine Sue .... all cooked in duck fat ... pourquoi pas! That's how Les Français cook. Palais des Papes is such a magnificent building it took my breath away when I first saw it ... Too big to comprehend and I believe it's on the World Heritage list now.
    You will both be pleased to stay in one spot for a while instead of having to vacate B&B's every morning .... time to sit back and soak up the ambiance of La Belle Provence.

    1. Dianne,
      I'm outside the St Remy Tourist Office @ 10.30pm. Sue is at home reading so I'll let her know your response. Tonight she cooked with our girls - scallops, potato with a pea garlic mash. Being at our little villa feels like home.

  2. Mmmm that duck is making my mouth water. We will be back in France tomorrow yippee.
    If you have windows 7, there is a programme you can use off line for your posts. I only have a small old computer here and I cannot tell you how to use it without looking at the new laptop, if you have no answers before I get home I will check it out for you.
    Re kisses see my last comment! Diane

    1. Bummer Diane - brought the MacBook with me.
      Hope you enjoy the new laptop though.

  3. The 'new laptop' is actually a year old and has given me nothing but trouble!!! That is why I travel with the old laptop, it may be slow but it is reliable! Diane


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