May 7, 2012. When I created the schedule of activities for most of our week in Provence, I didn’t deliberately choose to visit my favorite towns — Cassis, Gordes, Roussilon, St. Remy, Aix-en-Provence — each on the day of the local market, but four days out of five, that’s what happened. I must admit that Sunday’s outing (see the previous post) was a deliberate market choice, and our timing was better than in the past. Earlier in the day, the colorful booths explode out of the pathways around the Sorgue river, full of everything from tableclothes to shawls to baskets to cheeses, olives, roasted chickens, antique threads and tapestries, furniture, and schlock souvenirs (though thankfully there isn’t much of that).
Monday’s journey was to the Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera, specifically the beautiful little town of Cassis. The U-shaped harbor is lined with cafes and what else . . . shops. And at the water’s U-shaped edges are rows and rows of sailboats and motorized touring boats, which carry their passengers in and out of the Riviera’s calanques, fjords, the watery fingers of this part of the coast.
Since I have a strong tendency toward motion sickness, and have braved the waters the first time I traveled to this part of the area, I choose to send my traveling ducklings down these beautiful passageways without me. The turquoise sparkling surface of the water reflected a magnificent sky today, and in my mind, the weather was perfect.
While my travelers cruised the calanques, I scouted out a restaurant where I could sit down and have my favorite boat-waiting meal . . . steak tartare! Glass of red wine, basket of delicious French bread (there is NO bread like French bread from France, no matter HOW much I love Italy!), and a plate of fresh raw beef, parmesan cheese shavings, arugula in the center. An on-shore meal to die for . . .
When the cruise boat returned to the dock, everyone was hungry, so of course we scouted restaurants and menus again until we found a place that offered something for everyone in our group. I was happy with a glass of ice water and lemon, but the women had their fill of delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches after their time on the water.
Getting out of Cassis is always a challenge, and even with a GPS, the first few turns are very tricky Who knows where we might end up?
After returning the women to our villa to enjoy the late afternoon sun (and a glass of wine, of course!), Anne and I went to the neighboring town, Coustellet, to find a Super U grocery store, to stock our barren refrigerator and cupboards. Cheese, fruit, bread, coffee, salad greens, roasted chicken, fig jam, a bottle of Port, among our goodies, and accompanied by the wine we purchased at the Caveau de Luberon, a wine-tasting bar and wine store, we were set for at least half the week.
Back at our villa, we arranged our food purchases from the Sunday market and those from today’s grocery outing onto platters and carried everything out to the table in our courtyard, set to relax until bedtime.