I guess I can’t get enough of them. Like the others this year, this brocante was much smaller than the previous years. We didn’t get anything at this one. I found a table that I loved but it was way too expensive. This brocante was in la Tour d’Aigues, another village not far from us.
Well, I guess it wasn’t really a party. Maurice has two sisters who rent a big place every August for two or three years and all of their children, grandchildren and friends of same arrive to enjoy the last gasp of summer. Many of this same group were at our home last week. This year they were at a city called la Ciotat and we were invited for lunch. I didn’t remember the name but it turns out that Maurice and I made a stop there once and he did a little swim in the sea while I sat in the shade with a Diet Coke-my usual position. I’m one of those pale, easily sunburned individuals, one who gets sick if in the sun too long, who peels with the inevitable sunburn. It took me all of these years but I finally learned the secret to avoiding sunburn-stay out of the sun. Duh.
So although the house was rented in la Ciotat, we never did see the sea as there was a swimming pool at the house which was seldom empty. A large table was set up in the shade and we spent hours there eating and drinking. I never left the shade not even to enter the pool.
Remember that question asked when celebrities are interviewed on that TV show-What is your favorite sound? My answer would be, the sound of a cork coming out of the champagne bottle. It always means you are celebrating something it seems to me. They opened a bottle of the bubbly to celebrate my passing of the written portion for the French Driver’s license. Wasn’t that nice?
I must have taken a dozen photos of champagne being poured or bubbling in the glass. It’s so pretty. Sad to say, said champagne gave me a hell of a hangover the next day. I mixed drinking it with rose which I can’t do. I am starting to wonder if I shouldn’t drink it.
Some cheese served with a Cote de Rhone red wine.
I took many photos of people too but I just don’t feel comfortable showing them here although Slyvette, Maurice’s sister, said she wouldn’t mind. I think I’ll just send those photos to her.
Four more photos from the brocante at Cucuron.
There is another brocante in la Tour d’Aigue next weekend and we will be there.
I don’t think there is a better setting for a brocante than Cucuron, a village with a big rectangular basin and huge 200 year old plane trees. It’s always so much fun to visit. I noticed that there are a lot fewer venders this year. One of them said that it is getting hard to find things to sell. Or maybe it’s just the economy.
If you don’t get my twitter, you don’t know that I passed my written section of the French Driver’s license in FRENCH with no translator! All that worry, all that work and it turned out to be really simple. I didn’t know my palms would sweat when I get nervous, but I sure do now. We had to hold a little devise that looks like a remote control for a TV to enter our questions and I was afraid that I would drop it with my sweaty hands, either that or short out the computer system when it came time to check my answers.
I slept poorly the night before worrying about the exam. I woke up at 3, 4 and 5 AM before I finally got up at 6 AM. Maurice drove me to the meeting point where we arrived at 7 :30, waiting for everyone for the 8 AM time. Then we walked over to where the test is given. First it was locked for 15 minutes until a person finally arrived to open the doors. Then the guy giving the test had to set up the computer system and had some sort of problem and we didn’t start the test until 9:30. We then took the test which was so much more simple than the tests I had been agonizing over in class and with the DVD’s I had at home. The worst part was waiting my turn waiting for my answers to be checked. I actually didn’t miss any! Out of about 50 people taking the test, there were 8 or so who didn’t pass the test which surprised me. When I walked out of the building Maurice was waiting for me across the street. I held up my arms in the Rocky mode, the sign of triumph, and he looked like he was going to cry. It was a huge relief for both of us.
Now I have to get ready for the driving section of the test which I will do later in September. I am going to take a couple of sessions with the people at the school to make sure I am up to speed-pardon the pun. I’m really not worried about it but I probably should be, especially parallel parking.
Of course, I also had the huge groups of people two days before the test. A dozen on Monday for dinner, then 27, down from the 32 originally planned, for lunch and dinner. I had lots of help but of course it all came down to Maurice and me when it came to cooking and preparation. Maurice prepared a daube for dinner (a provencal beef stew) for the 12 people with potatoes. I fixed a cool summer tomato soup for a starter and there was cheese and a salad after. Lunch the next day was a mixed grill with salads and a big bowl of my mashed potatoes and brownies with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce for dessert. It was all consumed, no left overs of anything, so Maurice and his sisters went to the grocery store and returned with more meat to grill. It was gone in no time. The swimming pool heaved like the ocean, the air vibrated with French, and we all sat around and watched the sun set. Everyone was very nice and it was a lot of fun. All of the women wanted my recipe for mashed potatoes and my guacamole. My secret ingredient in both is garlic salt that I buy in the States. I’m going to have to bring back some bottles as gifts the next time I go to the States. When they left several of the women crossed the fingers of both hands and said, “Merde!” which, it turns out, isn’t just a good curse word but a French way to wish someone good luck which they did for my test.
A gift from some of Maurice’s relatives. They went to the island whose name is on the bottle which sounds really great. I never did get to taste it. It was gone really quickly. Don’t worry, I found plenty of other things to drink.
Maurice arranged for the same twelve people to return for lunch the next day after my test. After having so many people for the whole day the day before it was nothing. Twelve? No problem. One of Maurice’s relatives asked what they could bring for lunch and I had them bring roasted chicken and we had left over salads and desserts so it was easy.
Maurice and I won’t know what to do with ourselves now. So quiet and only two people eating. No classes to go to everyday preparing for the driver’s license test. I’m so glad that’s behind me. Now the slow slide into September and an upcoming trip to the States. Life is good.
PS-anyone want to buy DVD’s both in French and English to practice for the test? A special deal just for you.
I was so excited. We have some friends who were coming to Provence. The woman was assisting with a play, a musical, to be presented on the grounds of the chateau at Lacoste, now owned and renovated by the designer, Pierre Cardin.
Our friends got us free tickets. There was a fun poster advertising the play, a gayly smiling woman with a hat like the dome on top of the Garnier Opera House in Paris was on it. I was expecting something light and funny.
Of course, it is hard to beat any performance put on on the grounds of a chateau. The chateau itself, once the home of the infamous Marquis de Sade (where the word sadism comes from), is now lived in by Mr. Cardin. I don’t know if there are parts of it open for tours or not. The seats were set up on tires in what was once the stone quarry where they chistled out the huge stones used to build the chateau. It was a fabulous setting.
But then the play started.
A blind man came out and said he needed help crossing the street. A little page boy with wings came to walk him around. There was a man dressed as a black and yellow wasp complete with a set of wings, a woman who rode on the back of a bicycle for two with him, wearing some sort of turban with ostrich feathers sticking out, another woman in a huge hat always pushing a baby carriage in every scene she was in, school girls dressed in plaid uniforms, a WWII soldier who dived bullets now and then, a nun in roller skates, a black minister with a jacket painted with crosses, some sort of angel type character with wings sticking out looking like broom handles. It was all very strange and even Maurice, a born French speaker, leaned over and said, “I have no idea what’s going on”. I think it was one of those existential plays, along the lines of Waiting For Godot. I sat through that play waiting myself for something to happen but it all turned out to be just talking. I think it’s on Broadway right now with John Goodman in one role and I know there will be so many people going to see it expecting a huge comedy and leaving thinking, “What in the heck was that about?”
Having said all of those negative things, I must say the acting was good, the singing and dancing were absolutely fabulous, and the costume designer outdid him/herself. Apparantly, Pierre Cardin was there too but I never saw him. The best thing of the whole evening? The drive home on winding dark roads under the full moon.