I made a brief side trip to Provence in France this weekend. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see a small bit of southern France.
Visiting two friends who I know from my days in San Francisco, Ken Kobre and Betsy Brill. They have a second home in the small village, of Carcès, France, somewhere between Nice and Marseilles.
The day I arrived on Thursday was the National Fête de la Musique, a nationwide music festival where in every town, village and city there was music in the street. It is a national day of music and it started out to be something where everyone played music at home. Now it is a national street festival. We went to hear music in Entrecasteaux. I had never experienced music in this kind of setting. The Bar Central set up a long, long table on the walkway across from the restaurant. Then there were plenty of smaller tables out on the street. Lots of rose -- the new vin du jour, du mais, du annee. I think I am hooked. You sip it in small glasses, some are pinkish, some are whitish. All are good.
On my last night here we went back to Entrecasteaux for another concert in a repurposed olive mill. We heard from the San Francisco-based Vinifera Trio. It's hard to describe the ambiance, because it was so different from anything else I have experienced. The room was small, perhaps with enough space for no more than 100 people We had front row seats, but when I say front row, I really mean Front row, we were three feet away from the violinist and clarinetist. They played an eccletic selection but ended with thier own rendition of Gershwin's An American in Paris. And of course, when the performance ended, glasses of rose were passed around for all.
Other highlights -- to market, to market. every day there is a different market where wares of all kinds -- foods, herbs, clothes of course, but also mattresses and even grandfather clocks. We went to the markets in Carces on Saturday and Salerne on Sunday before our concert. Another feature of the market is to grab a table outside afterward for some people watching, and, of course, a glass of rose.
On Friday we went to Aix-en-Provence, a city for sure. What were supposed to be majestic tree-lined boulevards weren't -- some kind of tree disease has meant a lot of trees had to be cut down. So it didn't look as nice as we all expected. But it will get better. However when we got to the older part of Aix, another story. Endless crowds of people sitting at endless tables out on the restaurant watching endless others walking by. And drinking endless verre du rouge.
Even my approach into Provence at the airport in Nice, France was noteworthy. You could see the coastline and hte long stretch of beach. It was exciting to get my first view of Provence from my window seat on the plane. I got the same glimpse when I said goodbye, adieu to Provence Monday.