Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Sojourn in the South of France, Part I {Wanderlust Wednesday}

Before I jump into my recap of my most amazing week in France, I will be honest and divulge that I am fighting a great urge to whine and rant and complain. It is hot and sticky here in Dakar and I'm feeling homesick. The blog world is swirling envy within me, and I long to be near family and friends. BUT! I will leave it at that and attempt to follow my own advice on how to fight nostalgia. Deep breaths.

So, France :) The highlight of the trip was most definitely surprising my grandparents with my visit. Upon my arrival at the house, my stepmom woke my grandmother from her nap because my dad "needed help with the groceries." When my grandmother turned the corner to see me, she was completely floored! Through tears, she kept repeating "Am I dreaming?! Its not possible!" Granted, she HAD just woken up from a nap ;) My grandfather, who survived emergency heart surgery this spring, was speechless. And for the rest of my stay, I had the great pleasure of listening to my grandmother retell the story of "the greatest surprise of her life" a good ten times. She also sent out a mass email with the news. Mission accomplished ;)

A man and his cat.

Lavender, painted shutters, pottery, and tiles... the essence of Provence.

Disclaimer: my camera is broken so all I had was my iPhone. I made do, but the pictures are sub-par, as a result :(

In my six days, I was able to see pretty much my entire family, starting with my dad, step-mom and brothers along with my grandparents in Cabrières, and ending with my mom and brother, Paul in Canebières.... Twas glorious (and the reason for my current withdrawal). I was also able to eat a lot of really fabulous food. Despite gorging myself daily on French cheese and peaches in equal parts, the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables actually brought out some health cravings. Always a plus ;)

My very first meal upon arrival: a plate of cheese, of course.

And some fresh fruit :)

My days were spent mostly relaxing in the presence of my family and friends. I did arrive on the eve of Bastille day, though, which was quite serendipitous. After a long nap last Saturday, July 13, we walked as a family to the village center to watch the small yet spectacular fireworks. I also ran into my childhood friends from summers in my grandparent's village, and spent the evening catching up at the village party/dance/bar. I must admit it was a bit jarring to stand around chatting and reminiscing beside their strollers, kneeling down to entertain a toddler from time to time. Life is a changing...

On Sunday - Bastille Day - we dined on my grandfather's famous paella and nursed our full bellies with glasses of rosé. In the evening, we returned to the village center to watch the final Bastille Day festivity: Taureaux Piscine.

My step mom and twin brothers in the center of town.

A requisite fireworks shot.

The sangria was plentiful... and led to an afternoon nap.


And we begin the walk to Cabrières center, hoping to burn off some calories along the way...

This ancient building once hosted some sort of mill for the village.

This stream provided endless hours of entertainment growing up, the setting for many a make-believe saga. 

This fork in the road will forever be engrained in my memory. To the left, my grandparent's house, to the right Ann-Laure's house {childhood summertime bff}.

The Taureaux Piscine (bull pool) event consists of a small arena with a pool in the middle, and a truck full of bulls that are let loose one by one, to be chased by daring village boys and men. The show is narrated by the colorful language of a seasoned bull "fighter" (chaser? catcher? instigator? This isn't Spanish bullfighting, no violence involved, phew). The goal is for the men to entice the bull into the pool, and lay flat in the water as the bull charges his provocateur. If successful, you have the great honor of winning a t-shirt, and hopefully walking away in one piece. I'm not going to lie... it is entertaining, but a touch medieval when the bull actually charges a man/boy too slow to find cover. Disclaimer: the bulls are young, small, and feisty and honestly seem to enjoy the game. And if anyone gets hurt its the foolhardy village boys.

One of the feistier bulls seemed to be spiting the audience as he kept jumping over the railing and chasing the onlookers in circles (there were two railings, so the larger audience was still safe). Again, very entertaining!

It was near impossible to get a good shot without blocking people's views, so this is the best I could do. Here you see the bull testing his luck and pushing his way out of the first barrier. He jumped over that red fence multiple times, forcing the people hiding behind it to enter the arena. Medieval entertainment at its finest ;)

When I was young, I dreamed of getting in on the action. (One girl did enter the arena this summer! Girl power!) I always perched on the fence around the arena, imagining I was a part of the folly, but a quick jump away from safety. I still have a story to tell on this, one of these days...

After four days in Cabrières, I hopped on a train to meet up with my mom and Paul on the Côte d'Azur... pictures and recap from the end of my trip coming next!

*I am also sharing this post as part of the link-up "Wanderlust Wednesday" hosted by Casey at True Colours. How fitting that today's key word is Europe!*

True Colours

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  1. Gorgeous photos! Thanks for linking up!

    1. Thank you for hosting the link-up! So much fun participating. It did take quite some editing to make them "blog-worthy" haha ;)

  2. Visiting from the link-up. I think your photos are great, especially since they're from an iPhone.

  3. I love the pic of the cypress tree in the middle of the frame just sticking straight up! hahaha

    1. I love that tree also! The funny thing is I don't think I even noticed it until I was looking at the village through my camera's lens (/iPhone) this trip. I took many of the village's quaint details for granted. Next trip, I'll be sure to capture the medieval castle in the town center ;)


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