Friday, July 26, 2013

Faces of Provence

I was fascinated by the look of Provencal people. They really do look different, and not just because they are thin and stylish. First, they don’t go for a lot of frills; there’s not so much make-up, intense tanning, jewelry, or nail polish. They like au naturel.

But, there’s more. They move differently, carry themselves differently, and gesture differently. They are quite animated and dramatic, including facial expressions. I also found them to be relatively quiet. Maybe they express themselves physically, rather than aurally?

The outlook is different, too. You will not change a French person’s pace, or sense of urgency; they are not stressed by time. They just work as they can, and things get done whenever they get done; these people are not hurried. I suspect part of their reputation for rudeness stems from this; they don’t care to be rushed by others, either. But, I found them very helpful and welcoming.

They enjoy time. They drink wine during weekday lunches. We saw so many people picnicking. Conversations are slow and enjoyable. If a worker is having his lunch, he’s not going to stop to wait on you; it doesn’t matter that the shop is open and you’re a customer at the counter. HE’S HAVING LUNCH, get it? It’s really kind of cool.

The artist in his studio.

Fishing the Mediterranean.

Setting up the shot.

A brief respite.


I just love the look of this guy!

Relaxing under the vines.

Wine seller.

Avignon street musician.

Riding an Avignon carousel.

Men playing boules.

Agricultural Provence

Despite its popularity, non-coastal Provence has remined quite rural and agricultural. 
Most of the farming appears to be individual farmers, not corporate mega-farms.  It was cool to see a single car parked at the edge of a field, with one or two people slowly working their way through the crops.  It's really old-style farming.

The soil is very dry and rocky, which lends itself well to sustaining orchards and vineyards. And we saw lots of them.

Most of the orchards were cherry and olive.  But, the vineyards were everywhere.  Here's a pic of a small vineyard on a tiny, terraced plot in the heart of ultra-urban Avignon!

The old stone farmhouses and outbuildings create such a unique landscape.  There are also these cool, old garden sheds for farmers to get relief from the sun as well as these round buildings used to store farm implements.  They are called a borie and they are made without any mortar!  Apparently, the design itself holds the stones together.

Images of Provence

I'm finally getting around to sorting through my pictures from Provence.  You sure end up with a lot more pics using digital, eh?  Here are a few pics to start.
This is the view of the Mediterranean Sea in the city of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.  It was taken from the rooftop of an old church.  Apparently, this is a famous vantage point, as people have been climbing atop this church roof for ages to see this view.  It's a little dangerous and you'd never be able to get insurance if you allowed visitors to do this in the US. 

Here's a shot of the famous wild white horses of the Camargue region, along the southern coast.  They are stocky and beautiful.

We took a short boat tour down the Rhone River out of Arles.  I love this beautiful old mill (vieux moulin), now functioning as a dining & drinking establishment (guinguette).

Here's a shot of the beautiful ochre cliffs of Roussillon.  Dyes are made from the ochre deposits, which are mined here.  I got my sister some to create paint for her artwork!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Different Point of View

This morning, I was walking down the street, minding my own business, and was approached from behind by a guy on a bicycle.  He warned me that he was coming, so I said, "Hi," as he passed.  He stopped, looked back and said, "Can I ask you a question?" 
When I responded, he said, "What does it feel like to have a job to get up and go to every day?  How does that feel?"
I didn't know what to say!  I thought a bit, stammered a bit, and finally said, "Well, I complain about it all the time, so thank  you for helping me change my perspective." 
His name was Art.  I appreciate the emotional kick in the pants he gifted to me.