La Vie En Rose

Summer Sundays in France are a fine affair….mostly.

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Except for the hordes of visitors, whose lines of traffic stretch back as far as your wing-mirror can reflect (one learns to avoid both of these things) and the occasional drop of rain, you will find almost all of France eating outside on a sunny Sunday.

And whether enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labours at a restaurant, or eating al fresco under some shady tree, France lays bare her gastronomic soul in summer, when potagers are in full bloom, and market stalls reflect the richness of a land blessed with fantastic growing conditions, the output of which is amply reflected in the riots of colour that run along each and every of France’s stone walls.

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As a result, it is difficult to thoroughly enjoy a stroll sometimes when the day is calm, for there is no escaping the sound of forks and knives a-clatter behind gates, when a peek over a wall might reveal a family either far down a green garden under a willow or loitering with intent in an old courtyard, with linen a-flow on a table alongside a fire from which the searing smell of char-grilled chicken may be floating. Are those cold slices of watermelon on the table?  Or something perhaps even fancier?

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Drifting down an alley, one comes across a small door, from which behind one can hear small children giggling, and a steady clink of glasses – almost certainly saluting a bottle of rosé. After morning mass the soul may be replete, but the body surely needs succour.

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Life takes on a different pace on a Sunday.  This may be a time when people accidentally leave their ancestors’ gates open, allowing a view into a sanctum mostly unseen. Should we go in, perhaps, knock on the door and plead thirst? From behind the house comes a peal of laughter as children play before the call to table.

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And then of course, as one’s shoes echo flat on empty streets and the sun beats down determinedly, there are the discoveries – a piece of courtyard, neglected for too long, where a table and chairs must have once served well, and need to do so again. Is there an ‘A Vendre’ sign somewhere, with a telephone number beneath? Where do the stairs go to? Is there time to climb them and see the view?

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And then perhaps, if you are lucky, one late afternoon you will really experience it all, when neighbours and friends drag tables out of barns, slice a steel barrel in half for cooking on, and tell you to make something special for a feast.

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Venez à 1800 heures, they say, pour les apéros. And so nervously you approach at the appointed hour, clutching a bottle of local red (in our case, that’s a Bordeaux, of course), holding a wicker basket with plates, and cutlery, and glasses, with perhaps a salad and some marinated pork chops for the fire.

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You arrive at 6.00, but you don’t go home until after midnight, for this is France and in summer there are friends to be made around tables that typically serve the vendage feast in August. All of your children are still awake, playing tag in the darkness as the bats flitter overhead and as you limp home happily you hum the tune to a song the village has just taught you over one glass of wine too many.

La Vie En Rose?  Why yes, in summer it certainly can be….

 

33 thoughts on “La Vie En Rose

  • In my next life, I will be born into a family in the south of France, Sunday lunch is also a must to experience. A Six to seven hour extravagance is not unusual. You might even be be invited to stay for supper after….just a small bite to eat…..
    Ali xxx

  • Delightful! I learned to appreciate rosé when in Provonce one very, very hot summer. Now we can get a very nice Provencal rosé at Aldi to bring a bit of France into our hot summer. 😉

    janet

  • This is my perfect dream! And funny coincidence–last night I did dream that I was boarding a nonstop flight to Paris. Hopefully next year….Thanks for sharing these great photos. I would be tempted to climb those stairs, too!

  • Susan. The wheelbarrow? For those too unbalanced to walk? Love your post, thank you. What fun!
    Bob F.

  • What a glorious post to read…had a smile the whole time . It’s why I love FRANCE so much. My wish is that every village has the same atmosphere as this one… gentle, kind, loving, simple and purely divine! Love it❣️ Thank you.

  • This just so reminds me of the pizza-truck on our last visit chez vous! It’s SO indefinitely much nicer and friendlier ‘en campagne’ – we here meet also up with friends, but they are first of all committed to their families; whereas what we experienced over many, many years when visiting smaller places, was exactly that: Laid-back get-togethers, spontaneous meals, sharing food, wine & talks, laughter and music…..
    Right now, I’m very glad and thankful to spend a few days in my cool and lovely home here in France. It’s a hectic, far too hot and not always joyful time, travelling to and fro, no longer feeling at home neither here nor there, awaiting the time when I can say once more: Je suis chez moi et j’en suis bien!
    Enjoy summer, family, friends, salads, drinks and the sea!!!!!

  • That last photo is a magical one for me with the oh-so-different chairs and tables all pushed together . . .how wonderfully inclusive the different-but-same scenario is: as warm as France in summertime . . . thank you for allowing us to visit . . .

    • My pleasure, Eha. And you have pointed out one of the main reasons I love France so much – it really is (especially in the country) a place where everyone gets along with each other… I think the revolutionary spirit still exists.,…

  • What a lovely piece of writing that evokes the heat and conviviality of a French country summer afternoon. I, too, would want to climb those stairs to see what I could see. le sigh

  • Thanks so much for pics. Love the area. The stone walls & especially the blue door. How lovely to walk through!!

  • Bonjour Susan,
    In the States everyone wants to meet at restaurants instead of a casual gathering on the porch or patio. Basically they don”t want to cook.
    The French understand the Joy of Life which is lived spontaneously. Wish we had more of that. Actually, we had that life when i was a child and early in our marriage as trips to the country to visit a relative or a friend were never planned but just happened. Since we lived on a small farm in the country, I tried to be prepared for Sunday visitors and always cooked something like ham or roast on Sundays that could feed more people than just us. I am being nostalgic for those days when we all slowed down to enjoy life.

    Avoir un super jour de La Bastille…..a votre santé

    • Ah, the old days are good for memories. We entertain a lot here, especially in summer with friends, children and guests from the gite. I feel we run a commercial kitchen some days! But it is all worth it, for we love feeding people. Food is indeed the soul’s provider, and France is a great place to cook in. Thank you for your lovely comment XX

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