Springtime in Provence

Published: July 19th 2012
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Toulon HarborToulon HarborToulon Harbor

Our view from the Collegiale de Six Fours, an 11th century church dominating the harbor.
While it is lovely to visit the South of France and especially Provence at any time of the year this visit was in the late spring—May and June which is a particularly lovely time to enjoy its pleasures without the crowds or the heat of the summer months. Our visit is primarily to the region of Toulon on the Mediterranean between Marseilles and Nice.

Toulon has a very large natural harbor where we wintered on our sailboat "I Wanda" between 2003 and 2005. An aerial view from the Collegiale de Six Fours provides an impression of this harbor's size. We came up here to do some genealogical research as there are Verlaques in the cemetery. We visited a number of different cemeteries and they are very different from those in the US. Vaults are used extensively and they are often elaborately decorated. I was surprised and at first a bit uncomfortable seeing many photos of those buried preserved in ceramic or some similar method for long preservation. There is wide use of porcelain flower displays, at least in Provence, and while I have an aversion to “fake flowers” in cemeteries I must admit these are unusual and show
La Collegiale de Six FoursLa Collegiale de Six FoursLa Collegiale de Six Fours

I could not take a close up of the church as it has a cliff on one side and a "do not enter" military site on the other.
fine detail in style color. I have decided to amend my views (which often happens when we travel and see things done differently than we do them at home). I have come to like French cemeteries and and visit them often.

You cannot (or should not) visit Provence without spending a good bit of time in the colorful open air markets that are everywhere. In Toulon the market is 6 days a week along the Cour Lafayette which is a long street in the center of the old city. In nearby Sanary-sur-Mer the market is much more colorful, but only on Wednesdays. In these markets you will find a large variety of fruits and vegetables and also products produced in the region. In Provence this means olives and olive oil, cheese, locally caught fish, ceramics and olive wood bowels and utensils, and much much more.

I try to remember to bring my camera with me (even though the new one is a bit larger and heavier than my last one) so I can take pictures of things that surprise or charm me (and sometime things that do not!). So It is that I have pictures of
03 Collegiale Detail03 Collegiale Detail03 Collegiale Detail

The history if this site is detailed in both french and English if you can zoom in.
Mother’s Day ads in France. You can decide if they meet YOUR image of Mom! Advertisements and window displays often feature nude or nearly nude images that you would not see in America. They are tastefully done and do their job of getting you to notice! I notice things and share them with you!

We took a country drive to the Sainte Baume region towards the end of May and you will see that the hills were very colorful with more green than in summer and with lots of spring flowers. My favorites were “genet” (which I think is forsythia) that has long pointed stems covered with yellow flowers with a very sweet scent. I especially love this one because when I was leaving France the first time after a year of study in 1969 my friend Brigitte’s father picked arm loads of them and decorated their patio for a party the family had form me and our school friends. The new discovery is a flower called “La Pentcote” in France because it blooms at the time of Pentecost. It is a bit shorter than the genet with bunches of tight pink flowers.
04 View from Collegiale04 View from Collegiale04 View from Collegiale

Looking toards Toulon as we made our way to the cemetary behind the church. Those ancesters have a GREAT view!

I hope you enjoy our pictures of Provence in the springtime and if you have visited yet that they will encourage you to do so!.

Additional photos below
Photos: 42, Displayed: 24


05 Cemetary vault05 Cemetary vault
05 Cemetary vault

This one is in the Marseilles cemetary.
Burial photos and flowersBurial photos and flowers
Burial photos and flowers

The photos seems to be preserved and it is actually neat to see the costumes and other details.
Ceramic FlowersCeramic Flowers
Ceramic Flowers

Most of the graves in Gemnos have these ceramic flower displays.
Close up of Ceramic FlowersClose up of Ceramic Flowers
Close up of Ceramic Flowers

They come in a wide variety of types and colors. They grew on me and i no longer find them tacky as I did at first. Still, there are fresh flowers on our family tombs and vaults.
Springtime MarketSpringtime Market
Springtime Market

Notice the strawberries and cherries. There were terrible rain and hail storms that ravaged the cherry crop but they could still be found for a price.
Pepper PricesPepper Prices
Pepper Prices

We are surprised to find red and green peppers the same price. This display has them for about 90 cents per pound. Why are red peppers always higher at home?

Most are not made here of course but I loved the colors and that you could get them right there where you needed them to bring home your market loot if you forgot your basket at home.

Fresh garlic is everywhere and it is FAR better than the dried stuff we usually get at home. The violet variety is preferred.

You would be amazed at the variety of olives both black and green that are available. They also season some with lemons or garlic or herbs. some are cured others in brine. You will want to try them all.

Your eyes just FEAST on the colors and shapes and lovliness of these open air markets.

This was only one sort of cheese from the alpes not Provence. There are usually several cheese stands and it is hard to decide. General de Gaulle said it was hard to rule a country with 365 different cheeses!

Both white and green. We had the white ones.

I think I probably did not spell that right but these are small hardware stands that sell all sorts of hardware you need in the home.
Potterie and Olive WoodPotterie and Olive Wood
Potterie and Olive Wood

This is my "olive wood man" in Toulon where I get olive wood salad bowls and shallow dishes to put olives or nuts in.
Fresh Fish StandsFresh Fish Stands
Fresh Fish Stands

This one is in Sanary and was right next to the fishing boats. The fish looked wonderful and smelled NOT AT ALL.

If you are looking for something for lunch or dinner but are not in the mood to cook the market usually has take out.

The French love this Spanish dish (and so do I).

20th July 2012

i'm in love with provence
Mary and Christian, Your photos are magnificent - I love the market, especially! The cheese! The cemetery is very interesting, too. Pretty, and quaint. Spring in Provence sounds like heaven. Thanks for a beautiful post. Lora, the Stick and the Twig AKA Scott & Morgan
22nd July 2012

I loved your pictures, especially the open air markets--made me hungry!

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