Can you imagine a time when shops and stores all closed on Sunday? If you’re under 60, I would venture to guess you’ve not had this experience in the U.S.
Welcome to the villages of Provence. Prior to our arrival we were warned that coming in on a Saturday, late afternoon, it would be wise to stop at the grocery to prepare for Sunday, when shops are closed. At the very least, shop Sunday morning since some shops will still be open, but only half the day. Restaurants are also closed. Needless to say, we were forewarned and prepared. What did catch us off guard was that most shops are also closed Monday’s, or at least the first half of the day.
It’s time to share a bit more of the lifestyle in rural France. Other than our typical days that I’m about to share, we do some sight-seeing a couple times a week. Of course we’ve been here only two weeks, however, it appears there’s plenty to see to keep us busy for the month.
Last week we visited the city of Orange where there’s a medieval Roman arch and theatre. Also we visited the Pont du Garde, a famous Roman aqueduct. Both of these are for future posts. Last week was our first wine tasting trip. It was a busy week.
We’re trying out the French cookbooks here in the house. Most days we eat at home. We start our days with a walk. I think we’ve covered most of Pierrelatte. We found a man-made lake and recreation area on the outskirts of town called Lake Pignedore. There’s a gravel and asphalt path for walking, biking, running or skating. The gravel path is a touch longer. We usually do two loops, one of each, about 3.5 miles. There are other villagers out enjoying the area also.
Barefoot runner at the lake on the gravel. The rest of us were in long pants, jackets and hats!
In warm weather people come here to swim, picnic, rent paddle boats and kayake. Even now with the cool winds we’ve seen people out picnicing and kids playing on the playground. Almost every time we come to walk there will be someone out windsurfing.
In the center of Pierrelatte, about a block from our house is ‘the Rock’.
Legend has it that the giant, Gargantua, weary from his wandering through France, had sat down for a moment on Mount Ventoux to gather his breath and rid his boot of a troublesome pebble that had been causing him great pain. This little stone fell from the giant’s boot onto the middle of a vast plain, and became Petralatta – Peirrelatte.
Since then, the rock was used as the base for a castle and a quarry. The quarry caused a split in the rock which meant the rock could no longer protect the town from the Mistral. Eventually a concrete wall was built between the two remaining pieces of the rock. Today the area at the base of the rock is used as a venue for shows and other activities. The Rock is about two blocks from us and along with the church steeple and clock tower, a landmark.
The Pierrelatte Rock.
One of the reasons the church bells don’t sound as loud as I’d expect is that most of the time the ‘bells’ are coming from the clock tower in the center of town. Not from the church right next door here.
The Clock Tower strikes every hour and half hour.
On the block down from us is La Chapelle Des Penitents or the Penitents Chapel. This is the oldest preserved religious monument in Pierrelatte. Originally constructed in the 12th century it served as a meeting place for the White Penitents as well as the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Charity. The White Penitents were a Roman Catholic congregation who wore white and were responsible for caring for the sick, burying the dead and providing dowries for poor girls. The chapel was abandoned in the 19th century by the Penitents and restored by the town council in 1960. It is now used for shows and activities.
Also in our Ville Centre is a windmill. This was constructed in 1839 by a local baker. It was actually in operation for about 12 years until the baker’s death. It was fully restored in 2011, however, we haven’t seen it operate.
Speaking of bakers. Ulysses is our go-to bakery two blocks behind our house. Although you have to go around buildings so it’s about four blocks walk. Considering what you’re going to the bakery for it’s good to walk a bit. They have great brownies!
I think I’ve mentioned the way pedestrian traffic is really accounted for in France. Even in the main supermarket parking area there are paths noted for pedestrians. You would hope this would keep people from walking down the center of the parking lot and blocking your entrance/exit. Hmm, not so much.
In Pierrelate we also have a Crocodile Farm, a Coulours Of The Forge where they make knives, blades, candelabra, and decorative grilles among other things as well as The Perfumes Of Grasse, a perfumery! What Pierrelatte is most known for is it’s nuclear power plant, Tricastin, which is also the name for the black truffle found in this area.
In the foreground is a field of dead sunflowers (see them in their glory in August). In the background are the two cooling towers for the nuclear power plant. There is also a huge use of wind power here in Provence as well as fields of solar power panels.
Today was for housekeeping. I did the usual vacuuming, dusting, toilet cleaning. We have a small washing machine so I also did a load of laundry. It takes more time to get laundry done because the machine is an average sized front-loader. More than that, everything must be hung to dry in the sun room. Even though the washer does a great job of wringing out excess water, towels take time! It was a calm day, even a bit overcast so no sun or wind to speed along the drying. The weather is changing. Last Saturday we had a big rain. It started dumping big drops on us as we entered our door after walking. I wonder how low it will take to dry laundry in winter.
We also wash all dishes by hand usually twice a day so this takes time. And, we have to spend time planning our next destination.
For dinner tonight Doug is making Toulouse Sausage with Lentils and I made Ratatouille. Second round of Sausage and Lentils with a different sausage this time. It was great the first time. First time for Ratatouille. We shall see. Of course I can always throw together a salad.
I hope you now have a picture of our days in France. Not all that much different from a retired couple elsewhere who don’t have yard work. Of course we keep up with reading and even watch the news from CNN, often with anchors who have British accents. There’s also quite a cache of videos here. Tomorrow we’ll be off to visit another village, chocolate maker and wine tasting. It’s a hard life but…