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Latkes and Turkey à la France Profonde

 En route on the TGVEn route on the TGVJacques Genin chocolate shop, ParisJacques Genin chocolate shop, ParisThe Westfield homeThe Westfield homeThe chateau at AnsouisThe chateau at AnsouisFirst night of ChanukahDelicous latkesDelicous latkesOpen-air market at LourmarinOpen-air market at Lourmarin

We are clearly not the only people en route to a Thanksgiving celebration with family or friends, although the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) to Aix-en-Provence is not full of families headed to turkey dinners.

Whenever booking the train (using IDTGV, which offers the best deals), I always choose the same seats: 111 and 112 on cars 12 or 13, facing one another with a table in between on the upper level in first class. First class is only a bit more expensive, but the seats are more comfortable and it’s outfitted with electrical plugs. There is also service to your seat by someone from the dining car who wheels around a cart filled with drinks and goodies. It’s normally quieter in these seats, too, where families with young kids are not installed.

Today’s seats weren’t so ideal, however. The plugs weren’t working and with this Nouvellettre® on deadline, ‘ye olde’ electricity was imperative. The conductor, accommodating enough, sent us off to a bank of four seats face to face in an adjacent car, also with a table in between, opposite from seats 111 and 112. Nice enough! But sadly, two colleagues entrenched in business discussion in those seats talked incessantly. My niece from New York, traveling with me, plugged in her earphones to drown them out, while I was bold enough to ask them to pipe down.

That worked for about three seconds till their enthusiasm for their subject worked its way up to a new crescendo. It was an exercise to block them out and go into a zen mode so as not to disturb my train of thought. It was something learned while seated in a motorized rickshaw in New (and Old) Delhi inches from all the other vehicles on the make-shift roads while every vehicle was honking loudly and incessantly. If you aren’t ‘zen’ in that situation, you will have acute sensory overload!

Meanwhile, we are packed heavy for the snowy weather Provence is experiencing this morning and laden with gifts for our host including chocolates from Jacques Genin, decorations for the holiday table and a personal gift for the host, my old friend Barb Westfield, proprietor of a village house in the beautiful little stone village of Ansouis (vrbo.com/30388) where the festivities take place every year.

My niece has never been in La France Profonde — only to Paris — so she is in for a big treat. We are planning an excursion tomorrow by car to St. Remy, Arles and Les Baux with stops in between, before the turkey gobbling gets underway.

Tonight is also the first night of Chanukah for which I am prepared, equipped with candles from a market on rue des Rosiers. Yesterday we searched high and low for a “Chanukiah” (Chanukah menorah) made for kids that could be tossed after one use. Seems we had them growing up, but nothing of the kind was to be found. Even the least expensive small metal variety was in excess of 20€, so we may be ‘punting’ to find something a bit makeshift, but workable for only two candles — the one for the first night and second as the “shamus.” Barb was happy to report that she found a kind of “latke” (potato pancakes traditionally eaten during Chanukah) we could serve up in honor of the holiday.

On Friday, as is our usual tradition, we will stop at the weekly open-air market in Lourmarin first, then will head east to Nice — about a 1.5 hour drive by Autoroute. We’ll drop the car at the rental car company one block from my apartment (Le Matisse) and take in what Nice has to offer for the weekend, including visits with old friends. It’s been almost two months since being there last and its blue skies and swaying palms have been sorely missed.

For those who receive French Property Insider, tomorrow is one out of two days a year we take a break, so don’t expect an issue. On Monday, stay tuned…as you’ll be reading all about the past five days in the South of France — La France Profonde!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds on the TGVAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

(on the TGV)

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