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Thankful to be “en Terrasse” for Noel

There’s so much we have to be thankful for. This American holiday of ours, regardless of its roots, good or bad, has the most positive effect on all of us. It’s a time when family and friends come together for the sheer delight of appreciating one another and a time when we all reflect for which we have to be thankful. On top of that, there’s the feast that ruins our waistlines, but again reminds us of our good fortune. It’s by far my favorite of all celebrations.

This year we Americans in France have had even more to consider in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and parts beyond the City of Light. One thing common among all of us is the sentiment that we will not let this stop us from going about our daily lives and we aren’t and won’t be afraid. The slogan “Je suis en terrasse” has become the sequel to “Je suis Charlie.”

Without fear or reservation, Lisa Anselmo and I trained down to Aix-en-Provence, rented a car to drive to the little Luberon village of Ansouis where we spent Thanksgiving among American friends at Barb Westfield’s gorgeous home-away-from-home in Provence.

As is tradition, on Thanksgiving Day, Lisa, a friend also staying at Barb’s and I loaded ourselves into the little rented Fiat Panda to tour the towns of the Luberon. In seven hours, we traveled the tiny roads to Lourmarin, Bonnieux, La Coste, Ménerbes, Oppède, Oppède-le-Vieux, Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes, Roussillon and back again to Ansouis before sitting down to the Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc., etc., etc.

At Ménerbes, we lunched at La Veranda, a restaurant just as you enter the tiny village with a beautiful view of the valley below. The copious and delicious seafood salad was just the beginning of a very gluttonous Thanksgiving Day. Just in front of the restaurant, a pop-up “fromagerie” tempted us into purchasing a fresh “chevre” and a 24-month old “comté” from local producers.

For some odd reason, during each visit to Oppède-le-Vieux something memorable happens. Just as we were exiting the car, a large group of “randonneurs” (hikers) armed with their trekking poles and hiking staffs, all seniors, came snaking out from behind the stone wall of the old town. Without hesitation, I blurted out, “Ah, les randonneurs!”

“Mais oui” One gentleman seemingly leading the group replied. “Vous venez d’ou, madame? Vous êtes Americaine?” (But of course! Madam, where do you come from? Are you Americaine?)

“C’est si evident?” (Of course. Is it that obvious?)

The group of senior hikers took perfect direction as they formed an arc so I could photography them, while they said “fromage!” In trying to find more information about the group on the Internet, I didn’t find THEM, but I did discover another interesting hiking group: Les Randonneurs Nus de Provence!

The tour wouldn’t have been complete without passing through Roussillon, noted for its large ochre deposits of yellow, orange and red clay surrounding the village. The town homes and streets are made of the colored stone of the region and therefore is quite a spectacular sight. Each village of the Vaucluse, in which the Luberon is just one small part, is distinctly different and is just one of the things that makes it so unique and fascinating.

Thanksgiving was the usual feast and good tidings with an interesting group of expats living in Provence, in a beautiful setting. The “sous-vide” turkey was as amazing as we expected. The cranberry sauce was also made “sous-vide” and with all the trimming, the “grand répas” was topped off with homemade brownies, a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie. Ugh, there went the waistline.

The market in Lourmarin on Friday morning was sparse with shoppers unlike the traffic it gets mid summer, when the sea of shoppers fills the tree-lined road bordered by the merchants’ stalls. We stayed long enough to buy a few things, say our so-longs, then got on the road headed for Nice.

There is something very satisfying about entering my Niçois apartment, “Le Matisse,” and seeing “Henri-le-Cactus” after a brief sojourn. Henri grows leaps and bounds like the happy cactus in the sun that he is.

The Christmas lights along rue Masséna are up and ready to go, but not yet lit — the city waiting till this coming weekend to ‘flip the switch’ (December 5th to January 3rd) at the same time as the annual “Village de Noël” market opens on Place Masséna. We watched, what looks like a “snow globe,” be erected over the statue of Apollo, the assembly of the skating rink and Ferris wheel.

Signs of the holidays are everywhere, even if the decorations are not fully in place. The lighted pavilion on the Promenade de Paillon awaits its final touches. The florist at the northern edge of Vieux Nice near Place Garabaldi is offering up an array of three Christmas trees: blue, white and red. The temperature is not so cold that one can still dine “en terrasse” — and they are…soaking up the rays of the sun.

Nice is as much part of the anti-terrorist spirit as Paris…there’s a memorial filled with flowers at Place Garabaldi expounding on the spirit of ‘solidarity’ and the slogan “Je suis en terrasse.”

A la prochaine,

Adrian Leeds
Editor of Parler Nice
The Adrian Leeds Group

(in Nice, photo by Lisa Anselmo)

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P.S. Tiny House World has moved our Paris episode to Saturday, December 5th. Don’t miss it!

P.P.S. Coming up, Parler Paris Après Midi December. 8 with guest Sibel Pinto Chef-instructor, University Lecturer, Author. Her topic will be “The sweet and sour journey of the Turkish Sephardic cuisine.” Details on our Après Midi page. Don’t miss it!


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