First day in Riez………. cloudy and a bit windy and fairly cool…… but lovely anyways. Living in a land of perpetual sunshine, one tends to forget just how refreshing cool air is, and how the breeze will blow the cobwebs out of your head and leave you feeling like you can actually think again.
We began the day slowly… I was awake for a while in the night, reading about Provence in French, and then slept in until 9 am when Corinne tapped on the door. After toast and coffee, we headed out to the market. On Saturdays, the market is larger than Wednesdays, and this time of year, which is NOT a bit tourist season, there are a lot fewer vendors… just the ones selling food and other things that the locals are interested in. Corinne said that it was much larger than it has been lately…. still smaller than it was when I was here last in November 2009.
All the village was down there…… every few steps, we met someone Corinne knew..,, and several that I had met on my last visit as well. We stopped at the book store/newstand for a paper, and I got a map of the area, so I will better be able to understand just where we go as we explore.
Soon, we were in the heart of the market…. the fresh vegetables and bread and olives and fish and..fresh flowers and bedding plants….wow. Lavender honey, olive oil soap, herbs – all regionally produced delicacies. What a feast of colours and textures and smells! And the vendors have a great sense of humour….. the sign on this local treat, which is like an anchovie paste and onion pizza reads… “The true Fongasse… never seen on television”.
After buying asparagus and the biggest artichokes I’ve ever seen, as well as a few other things, we headed to the one store in town that sells thread and other sewing-type things. Again, we met several ladies that I had met before, and bought some lovely bias to use in applique and whatever else takes our fancy. They had some beautiful wool there as well….. it almost made we wish I was a knitter.
Back home and then to visit Corinne’s parents for dinner. We had a delicious meal of local fare, including a meat dish where beef, pork and lamb were all cooked together in broth. The lamb was incredible. I was told that they graze on herbs, and therefore the meat is extra tasty and tender. Good bread and vegetables and salad, several different cheeses for the first part of dessert, and then apricot tarte….. and good red wine.
I was quite pleased with my rudimentary French… I think the preparations I made really have paid off. Not only was I able to understand quite a lot of what was being said to me, but I was able to reply without having to worry… and felt perfectly comfortable doing it. And I haven’t had that “deer in the headlights” feeling either, when someone speaks to me in French.
Corinne’s sister and Mom came home with us, and we visited and drank tea and coffee all afternoon. In the evening we just curled up and watched TV, and planned for the days ahead.
Here are a few shots of the market….. just to give you a taste. Also, a preliminary taste of Riez… a 2000 year-old village. I can’t wait to explore more of it.