Slices of Summer Life in St. Rémy and… Up the Road.

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Summertime sunflowers bring on busy bees.

Summer in Provence. L’étè in the south of France may mean vast lavender fields, beach breezes, or a vibrant ville en fête. But no mater what scene you gravitate to, typically you can count on increased levels of two elements–heat and tourists.

Visitors are increasing each year, it seems. Recently, tour buses with a “Discover St. Rémy” sign posted in the front dashboard began arriving regularly from the port of Marseilles where cruise ships dock for the day. Luckier tourists stay in a hotel for a few days, and even luckier ones rent an apartment for a week or longer, allowing time to leisurely explore the rich area and soak up la belle vie provençale.

 

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In summer, even peewee visitors get up early to explore Les Alpilles.
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Tourists attempting to conquer the steep road leading to the Roman site of Glanum may be questioning the wisdom of NOT renting electric bikes.

Owners and workers at the boutiques and restaurants are working their chaussettes off,  while residents work around the crowds, keeping close to home to avoid getting caught in a bouchon (traffic jam). We know that just around the corner awaits the rentrée, that glorious time of year when kids return to school, parents return to their jobs and the village returns to us villagers.

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A Romanesque bridge graces Nyons, the famous black olive-producing center, about an hour from St. Rémy, in the Drôme department.

 

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This bustling Bistrot de Pays in Vinsobres (SW of Nyons) offers delicious country meals on an shady terrace.
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Savoring cool gazpacho at the upscale Ferme de Chapouton bistro in Grignan is a perfectly delicious way to beat the heat.
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The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Nazareth in Vaison-la-Romaine offers a respite from the maddening crowds.

While we’re waiting out the tourist season, we’re waiting for record-breaking temperatures—some days inching over 100 F—to subside. Air conditioning or climatisation is available some places, but others not. Our house is nearly new and we have only a single AC unit in the downstairs area. Lots of homes are paired with a pool or bassin (dipping pool), but certainly not all. Our pint-sized piscine won’t accommodate long laps, but it pulls off the cooling trick just fine.

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Flamingo friends stay cool in the pool.

One thing most folks do have in common is a house or apartment equipped with volets (shutters). And folks manage them with precision—opened wide in the cool early hours of the morning, throughout the day barely cracked—just enough to let in a bit of light—-and then around dinnertime, returned to the “wide-open” position.

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A neighbor’s neatly closed shutters preserve the cool interior during the heat of the day.

In addition to volet management throughout the day, hydration is de rigueur. I hadn’t realized my H2O intake program was all wrong until recently. On Sunday, I was at the patisserie for a delicious treat, the ancestrale, (a rustic, chewy loaf), when I ran into an elderly neighbor. We discussed the on-going heat wave (canicule), the main topic of conversation right now. I bid him a bonne journée but before leaving, I reminded him to drink lots of water. Stepping towards me as if to whisper a secret, his expression morphed from cheerful to serious. “And rosé,” he said,three glasses at day—at least!” Might not find that sage advice on WebMD.

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“Doctor’s” orders–each summer’s day, rosé, three cups full.

 

 

 

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