Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

'THOSE FRENCHIES': (France, St Jeannet)

So, I've always held a romantic notion of motoring through Provence, and chancing upon one of those charming impromptu, word-of-mouth, picnic-esque restaurants set up under the shade of an old oak or an olive grove. Such a place would serve local vintage wine, illegal cheeses and rich pates, and would be accompanied by ample servings of gallic shrugs and nonchalance. "Sacre bleu"!

Well, in the nape of St Jeannet, the imposing and beautiful precipice above our good friends home, we chanced upon visiting the local Church for what was their village 'Saints day'. Festivities included parading an effigy of John the Baptist through the street, a 'May-pole dance', and 'aperitifs' in the square of small bites and local wines. It is amazing how cold the French can be to visitors, until you show a little effort, perhaps attempt some pigeon French - then they are amongst the warmest people going. We were invited to sample the fare and mingle with the whole village. A friendly woman asked what we were doing for lunch - we were half thinking the hors d'oeurves had done us well. We ended up invited to the home of the local vignoble, who had supplied the village with wine. There, on their family run vineyard, amongst the vines, beneath the tree of our romantic ideals, sat the patriarch of a huge French family, surrounded by 9 of his 13 children, laughing grandchildren running and scheming, and a table laden with wild boar, unlabelled wines, fresh olives, and strong cheese. The grandfather even shared with us a bottle of their finest wine, stored in a nearby cave, the location of which was only known to him and his eldest son who was succeeding the family trade. Best wine we've ever tasted for sure. They spoke no English, but the conversation seemed to flow nicely all afternoon. Sounds like another cheesy classic moment from Kris - it was.

Taking you back slightly, on arrival, we were keen to not come empty handed. However, we had followed our guests directly from the village. As it happened, we had a bottle of wine in the boot of our car. We 'ummed and ahhed' over which was more embarrassing - coming empty handed, or dumping a bottle of mid-range South African plonk on the table. We opted for the latter….a tad warm but appreciated nevertheless. This was such a highlight for us. We hope that we'l go again some day with our favouritist frenchy buddies, Oskar and Mackenzie (actually, they're Swedish and American, but who's counting?). We'll let O&M choose the wine to bring!
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