Country Comes to Town in St. Rémy de Provence

French TV host Nathalie Simon (jean shorts on right) films during St. Rémy transhumance, June 2019.

Historically, the transhumance is a grand event in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. On Pentecoste Monday—which falls in either in May or June—herders in traditional garb guide thousands of sheep and goats around the ring road—twice. Tourists go nuts snapping close-ups and trying to pet the animals as they trot by.

A young herder guides the sheep during the transhumance 2019.

Sadly, due to Covid-19, the festive event was cancelled in 2020, and with health issues still a concern, it did not happen this year either. So we look fondly back to 2019. This year was especially memorable because a TV film crew from France3-PACA was on hand to capture the event for a segment on St. Rémy for the travel show Chronique Méditerranéenne with host, Nathalie Simon, a former wind-surfing champ. In fact, I actually participated in part of it.

France3 TV crew leads the sheep from the Petit Crau plateau to town, during the transhumance 2019.

During the transhumance of 2019, after the animals trotted down from an elevated plain on the north side of town called the Petit Crau, they ran their course around the village, and then marched back up to their grazing area. (Later, they would be transported to cooler pastures for the summer.) There, a couple of hundred locals gathered for a BBQ—lamb of course! My job was to sit next to Nathalie at a picnic table and join in the toast with our plastic cups of rosé and then pretend to eat while the lovely host sang the praises of St. Rémy. I didn’t have any real lines that day, but I did the next.

Filming at the transhumance BBQ, June 2019. (I’m in the striped shirt, Nathalie to my right.)
The happy France3-PACA TV crew and my wonderful buddies after filming. Host Nathalie (jean shorts/yellow windbreaker) and me (black jacket). The director, Stéphane Stasi, far right.)

My participation in the show had come out of the blue. In the spring, a producer for the network had found my book, Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie, and asked me to be on the program as the expat author. My part was filmed on the beautifully leafed-out Place Favier in front of the cute crêperie Lou Planet and was aired on 22 September 2019, Journée de la Patrimoine, France’s Heritage Day. The day I spoke some French on French TV was certainly a piece of my own history I won’t forget!

The lunch crowd on Place Plessier, bordered by the stately Hôtel de Ville, enjoy terrace dining.
Puppy comes to market in style!
Though the transhumance 2021 was cancelled, cafes and shops were open.
Café de la Place is back in business!

Though no sheepies or goaties came to town this year, tourists have returned—café terrace dining opened on 19 May. And there is plenty of countryside for them and resident townies to explore, too. Just a short walk from centre ville, near Chateau les Alpilles, sheep often can be seen munching grass tranquilly. And at Lac de Peiroou, peace and serenity reign.

Serene Lake Peiroou can be reached by foot in about 25 minutes from the center of St. Rémy.
Poisson pour déjeuner!

And there you can even catch lunch!

Stay safe, well, and hopeful.

Bises, Gayle


Trees around St. Rémy now sport colorful wraps called “Yarn Bombing,” a type of “gorilla” knitting.

PPS The Birdwatcher’s Wife is proving to be a book that doesn’t want to be done. But–in filming terms–this author is ready to call it a wrap. Please stay tuned!

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