We're back on-line after a frustrating battle with technology. Thanks to all
for your patience and understanding. Now we can get back to the
business at hand...a taste of France, be it from a small town in France or
a small town in the USA. We're spending summer and fall in New
England, but we continue to get news from la belle France, and we'll pass on what
we've found of interest until we're back on the scene in early 2002. Stay
La Côte Bleue, with
Marseille on the horizon
Mediterranean "Blue Coast"
La Côte Bleue
One of the joys of visiting the south of France is the
proximity of the Mediterranean sea, the bluest of blues, the center of so
much history, industry, and culture. After our fabulous spring expedition in search
of the perfect bouillabaisse near Marseille (see
May 15), we decided to explore the coastline a
We spent a long weekend "by the sea" in
June and found the experience perfect. Looking at a map, we set out for
the towns of Carry-le-Rouet, Carro, and Sausset-les-Pins,
on a continuous stretch of la Côte Bleue to the east of Marseille.
The ports are alive with boats, fishing, and, of course, tourists. But
this is not the Côte d'Azur, land of movie stars and jet-setters. Rather
it's more down-to-earth, comfortable, and affordable. The sea is just as
blue, the seafood just as fresh, and, unfortunately, the wind can blow just as fiercely as
along the entire southern coast.
Stopping at various little port towns that are
nestled among the calanques, we sat at cafes to see what the locals
were up to. Not much! It's a quiet life, disturbed only by the occasional
weekend hordes of visitors from Marseille. We had a delicious Michelin
one-star meal at L'Escale in Carry-le-Rouet (not to be confused with
l'Escale in les Goudes, home of fantastic bouillabaisse), but we ate just as well at
les Sirènes in Sausset-les-Pins, where the proprietors were friendly,
funny, and, best of all, they let us linger for hours at our waterside
table as the light faded over the sea. A fine way
to "beach" at the Mediterranean.
2001 grape harvest - early, but good!
Le vendange 2001 - précoce, mais bon!
Reports from the southern parts of France, the incredible wine sea,
indicate an early harvest for grapes this year. In Languedoc-Rousillon,
the warm summer has hastened maturation of the grapes, with some vineyards
already starting in on the white varieties (chardonnay, viognier,
particularly), and scrambling about to hasten preparation for the much
larger red grape vendange. One to two weeks in advance is the
general consensus of readiness for this year's crop...and although the
experts hesitate to speak too soon, there is talk of this 2001 batch being
even better than last year's "very good" -- although apparently
neither will compare with the quality of the 1998 vintage. We'll have to
wait and see about this year's ratings, but there's nothing to stop us
from diving in to those grand 1998s. A votre santé!
planted...waiting for results.
vegetable garden in the US?
Un potager aux Etats-Unis?
One of us is a true gardener and has spent a lot of time browsing les
pépineries (garden stores). Hoping to have as good produce as we've
had in France, we decided to bring home some French seeds to plant in our
small New England vegetable garden. After a quick check with the USDA
website on the rules, we chose a variety of seeds, including cucumbers,
green beans, mesclun, lettuces, zucchini as well as sunflowers and
nasturtiums. The home beds were prepped, the soil turned, enriched, and
the seeds planted. The results? Mixed.
| Summer is when gardeners can actually get "down and
dirty" with the dreams and plots they've been hatching over the
winter. As we hatched our plots, we were reminded of a wonderful book
about an American's gardening experience in France. When we first read
Richard Goodman's French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of
France quite a few years ago, we were struck by the clarity and
seeming authenticity of this small volume. Leafing through it again a
month ago, we realized that its setting is smack dab in the midst of the uzètienne
region that we love. The descriptions of village life, the land, and the
reserved people ring so very true. Worth a read for francophiles who are
Glad to be back at this, and we'll have more for you soon.
be filling in some blanks in the rest of the website as we go along.
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