Thursday, October 11, 2012

staycation {part.5}

{saucisson sec}
If there was a rule book for visiting Provence, I'm pretty sure that rule number one would be... get thee to a market (but in french like). And if you don't believe me, ask Fodor's. See, markets are a must-do. 

So on the Monday that Mom & Co were here, that's just what we did. 

Monday is market day in Forcalquier (I happen to prefer the Apt market but Apt market day is Saturday and on Saturday we were busy in Avignon and Gordes. But Forcalquier is the first market I visited and where I bought my very first basket which made me feel like a proper French lady, that is until Fifty ate it). Because markets in Provence start early and end early, I got the ladies in the car by 8:00, and off we went.

{fromage}
On the way to Forcalquier something extraordinary happened, Mom & Co said that they preferred my driving to Gregory's, it was sooooo much smoother. Well I wasn't surprised what with his constant gear shifting all of the time as he's careening around corners. It's like... hello speedracer... you're driving a VW minivan with the Golden Girls in the back. Stop with all of the shifting, ease off the clutch and take it down a notch. Feeling completely validated, I parked the minivan and off we went to explore all of the Provençal wares.

{poisson}
They oohed and aahed and shopped. I oohed and aahed at all of the American voices I was hearing. Let it be known that Summer 2012 was the summer of the American tourist in Provence. I've never heard so many accents that made me homesick before. Sure in Aix-en-Provence and the Côte d'Azur you'll hear some, but not usually in Provence, Provence (that's what I like to call my area... Provence, Provence), normally the only English I hear is English, English. But for whatever the reason the Americans are finally here... bienvenue and please come again (and give me a shout before you come next time so I can give you my American goody list).

{more saucisson}
Who says there is no customer service in France?

Usually me, I know, but on this Monday in Provence,  one lone Frenchman dared to defy the stereotype going above and beyond in the customer service arena and coloring me shocked.

Miss Vicki and JoDelle had discovered some Provençal pottery that they just had to have. While they were buying up the shop, I bid adieu and went on my way exploring all of the pretty soaps, fragrant spices, olives and tampenades. And I bought some saucisson sec to treat Gregory; one olive, an herb, and a bleu d'Auvergne. (Just so you know, the bleu d'Auvergne saucisson with a glass of red wine is practically a revelation, it's that good.)

A few minutes later, I heard someone shouting, "Madame! Madame!" I ignored it because whoever was shouting definitely couldn't mean me because then I'm sure they would have been shouting, "Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle!" (Right?!) But when I felt a tug on my arm, I turned around to see the Frenchman from the pottery shop standing there. He was red in the face and huffing and puffing something fierce. He quickly explained that the two American women I had been with earlier were missing some of their pottery. When he had been wrapping up their packages, he had accidentally left out a couple of pieces and as soon as he realized, he ran out into the market to find them.

Let me tell you something about Forcalquier Market, it is not small. It is the largest in the Alpes de Haute-Provence department and covers a large area in the center of town, weaving up and down different paths. This little Frenchman, taking off into the crowd, searching for Miss Vicki and JoDelle to return their missing pottery is astonishing, especially in France (no offence Frenchies but you know it's true). Gold star for him.

Want to know what else is astonishing? Me actually understanding every bit of his rapid fire French as he tried to catch his breath while frantically explaining what had happened. Now that's astonishing.

Gold star for me too.

bisou
 

25 comments:

  1. I've come over all faint! Good thing I'm sitting down. The normal reaction would have been shrugged shoulders and a bit of muttering, then blank astonishment if the ladies came back to ask for the rest which would be refused.

    Am I being unkind? (I don't think so)

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  2. Gold Stars all around. Glad to hear that good French customer service is not just a myth. After four years here I was starting to wonder.

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  3. ooo i love markets in france! the cheese and sausage are definitely my favourite -- you just don't get markets like that in england :) xx

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  4. Well done on the French! And I'm especially impressed that you can drive a minivan, I would probably struggle with a normal car (gears, wrong side of the road & parallel parking: the evil triad. Oh and that ridiculous priorité à droite).

    Also, for some reason I find it funny that they used a piece of cheese for a paperweight in that photo!

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  5. Oh THAT cheese yuuuuuuum! I love that the Frenchman did that.

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  6. All in all a great day...what's the bleu saucisson got in it?

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  7. Ahh I hope we have time to stop in some markets while we're in France! I could wander for hours :)

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  8. You realize those photos of saucisson are like porn for the Canadian. Filthy porn. He loves it so much. And, I am sending some love to that little French dude -- I can't believe such customer service!!! xx

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  9. Reading your staycation posts is like doing my own vacation over--almost exactly. We literally went to the same towns and even ate at some of the same restaurants. It's a small world here in blogger France land.

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  10. Oh wow, that Frenchman from the pottery shop was really nice. German customer service can be bad too so I would have been surprised too. :)

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  11. That first picture alone is enough to make me want to up and switch countries! Mmmmm!!! Congrats on the French! Rapid fire foreign language is the worst...

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  12. Yay for staycations! I love "French like" command, markets are where it's at!

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  13. The market looks amazing! I've never spent much time in France, but goodness it looks gorgeous.

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  14. Love these photos& live vicariously through them! I can't wait to visit one day :)

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  15. I love breakthrough French moments!! Congrats on yours! Don't you remember the days of understanding absolutely nothing?! It seems like a lifetime ago but not, you know?

    And that cheese looks sooooo stinky and soooo good. Did you guys buy any of it?

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  16. What a sweet man, running around to find you! And isn't it exciting when you realize how much of another language you actually understand. What a perfect place to realize this!

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  17. Big goldstar for you too! Isn't it wonderful when that happens? I compare with when I started learning Spanish and everything sounded like one big stew of sounds and words, not being able to hear where the first word stopped and the next one began. It's so wonderful when you actually are able to understand complete phrases and conversations!

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  18. Le sigh. Sara, I've been so far away from Blogland lately but I am desperately trying to get back in the groove and let me say... I have missed your stories! I'm so glad you're Americans (and their accents) got to visit you. LoL :)

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  19. You probably hear this a lot but I'm so jealous that you live in France! It looks amazing...love the pictures!
    ~Jessica
    www.jeansandateacup.blogspot.com

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  20. What a great story!! I am slightly jealous as I am back in my home land! I am craving fun nights out with lots of wine ans saucission!! And the french language. And I almost got goosebumps about that French man...if only I could have seen it!

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  21. astonishing honesty and generosity of heart comes to mind with the shopkeeper but i am surprised you were astonished at your grasp of french - i expect you would be completely fluent after how long you've lived in france, but i imagine it does still come as a shock when you find yourself processing it all in the midst of a highly emotional exchange - bravo!

    (and i have to admit i thought this post was titled: straycation!! haha!! maybe an idea for a future post??

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  22. Aww, bless him! Not surprised they preferred your driving though ;o)

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  23. Kudos to you! And I LOVE that pile of French sausages! :-)

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