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Green Acres




Yup. It’s definitely Green Acres around here.… And I love it. Two days after moving to Provence from Paris I thought, “What the hell have I done?” But now, exactly one month later, I know I made the right decision and I realized it within three seconds last Saturday. Let me explain…

For the past month, my husband and daughter arrive to Provence promptly on Thursday or Friday evening from Paris after a 2 ½ hour train ride. They go to bed early because they know that their weekend is going to be chock full of my “adventures.” They don’t always want to go but I make them and if they start to refuse, I start to fake cry which usually does the trick. They know that they would be assholes if they refused to take the crippled girl on her “outing.” By the time they are in the car at 8:30 AM, they are committed and their attitude improves slightly.

The first weekend in Provence was spent discovering the local flea markets. Avignon (which Gracie declared the entire town needed to be "power washed"), Beaucaire and Carpentras. Excellent flea markets, not as uptight as Parisian flea markets and the vibe was much more relaxed. Loved it! Gracie has been going to flea markets and antique shows with me since she was zero years old so she knows the drill… And she hates it. Now that she is 20 years old, she attempts to feign excitement. However, she didn’t even have to fake it when she saw a booth of vintage Chanel scarves. She was in heaven. So, because I love her more than life itself and I would literally give her my liver if need be, I bought her a blue and white striped vintage Chanel scarf that she promptly folded like an expert and tied around her beautiful Marella Agnelli swan neck.

The Friday before the flea market we went to a little village called Eygalières. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Is this town real or am I in a Nancy Myers movie? Charming little village hosting a farmers market offering Provençal olives, ruby red radishes with salt, little olive trees in terra-cotta pots, and piping hot herb roasted chicken and potatoes. The vendors were straight out of central casting… French men (of a certain age) wearing “aged by the elements” dusty jackets, handknit scarves, little hats and of course, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths as they are filling your bag with vegetables which is both disgusting and charming at the same time. The little cafés were exactly what you dream of a little Provençal village… Little wooden chairs, red and white tablecloths and strangely, wild cats just lounging around. Since it was November, beautiful fall leaves scattered around the cobblestone streets. I mean, for God’s sake!





Another Saturday morning in November, my husband and I drove over to the village of Saint-Rémy which is the equivalent of Santa Barbara. This is where the rich people are. Range Rovers, manicures, gourmet pizza trucks, real estate agencies offering $10 million farmhouses, and a Farrow and Ball paint shop! Yes, you heard me, in the middle of hillbilly town is a Farrow and Ball! I felt a bit safer and decided that maybe I wasn’t in a Third World country.



We went to Saint-Rémy that morning for one reason...I wanted to go to the St. Paul de Mausolee which happens to be the psychiatric hospital that Vincent Van Gogh spent one year at after the “incident” involving his ear. But more importantly, this is where Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night and the Irises. I honestly couldn’t believe that I was walking the same path and looking at the same view that Vincent van Gogh did. It was so peaceful and so serene and so beautiful that I seriously considered faking a psychiatric condition (which wouldn’t be difficult for me) just so I could check myself in to this beautiful place as it is still a fully functioning psychiatric hospital. A large part of the hospital’s program is art therapy and there is a gift shop filled with the patient’s artwork. Take a look…

















The following weekend, we had an adventure that I will never forget. Usually my husband is not at liberty to plan our weekends because I am a total bitch and control freak, but this weekend he suggested we go to an exhibit…Carrières de Lumières and I agreed. I had no idea what I was in for. We drove to the little village of Les Baux de Provence which was voted one of France’s top 100 most beautiful villages. My husband forgot our handicap parking pass in our car in Paris so we had to park “amongst the able-bodied.” As I was getting out of the car, into my wheelchair, a little car came ripping through the parking lot and parked in the handicap parking. A man literally skipped out of the car and was proud as a peacock to get the front spot. Not one bit handicapped. I waited to see who else got out of the car hoping to see at least one amputee so I didn’t have to have a confrontation with these strangers. But no, everyone was as physically fit as an Olympian and my blood started to boil. I will admit that his wife had a little difficulty walking but that is because she was fat and that does not equate a handicap. You don’t get to park in the best spot just because you cannot control your fried chicken and French Onion sour cream dip with Ruffles potato chips cravings. #NoteToSelf . To you They rushed into the exhibit and I memorized their faces so that I could give them my “You Are Evil If You Park In the Handicap Parking If You Don’t Need It” speech when I saw them inside. Monsters.

At the top of the village is a gigantic quarry… And a little door. This is where my husband wanted to take me. All I could think about was finding those people. We paid for our ticket and were ushered to a nondescript small door. The door opened and we were led inside. Total blackness. Then, suddenly, the exhibit starts and you realize that you are inside of an enormous limestone quarry as big as you could ever imagine and then… All around you, left to right, top to bottom you are in the middle of a Renaissance painting. The masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael are projected onto the limestone walls, floors and ceilings of the quarry at a gabillion times magnitude. And the best part is that it is set to booming opera music echoing off the limestone walls. As I sat there with my jaw hanging open in complete awe, I thought to myself, “This must be what heaven is like.” Truly. I was so filled with wonderment and peace that I didn’t even want to kill the handicap parkers anymore. Saved by artwork, they were! Take a look…









Our next weekend, we went to the little village of Fontvieille to check out the Foire Gourmande au Gras which translates to The Market of Fat. My kind of market. French cheese, Italian cheese, prosciutto, sausages (deer sausage, mushroom sausage, truffle sausage, boar sausage, herb sausage), Corsican honey, black truffles, truffle butter, champagne and… Hold your horses, foie gras. Yes, the politically incorrect foie gras. You cannot escape it in France. It’s here, it’s queer and it’s here to stay. But this farmers market was different. They didn’t just have foie gras in nicely packaged cans. This was the ultimate farm to table. Right smack dab on the table was a plump gorgeous duck.  And I’m talking PLUMP! As we were walking by the first booth, the farmer plopped one of the ducks on the chopping board, slit him open like a pathologist performing an autopsy, and ripped out the liver and offered it to us. Gracie literally turned white and her eyes started to roll back in her head and we feared/hoped that she would faint. David and I make a point of placing Gracie in the most uncomfortable positions that we can find (so we can laugh) and this exhibit was more than we could have dreamed of. Gracie already looked out of her element dressed in her all black Parisian uniform and now with her hand clasped over her mouth gagging at the site of foie gras, she could not have looked more foreign in the middle of Provence. I am sure that forcing one’s daughter to visit a foie gras farmers market constitutes child abuse in America, but in Provence it is de rigueur.








On a different Saturday, we visited a store called Leclerc. It’s basically the Walmart of France and the clientele is not much different. It’s funny how white trash translates country to country. Yes, I know I am a brat, but it’s the truth. For example, after we saw three gypsy families enter the store, we saw their young son, aged 8-ish, linger behind… To smoke a cigarette. Swear to God. It was the greatest and worst thing I’ve ever seen.

Now, I’m going to be very honest even if you hate me. It was the first time in my life that I felt like, “I don’t look like anyone here.” It was a strange feeling. There was no one speaking English (not that they should), no one blinged out in designer jeans and designer purses, no one shopping for kale for their green juice, and no one cared that the eggs weren’t refrigerated. Going to a Walmart in the middle of Provence definitely gives you pause. I was surrounded Provençal “country folk.” I’m not saying that it was bad, just different. The funny part was that everyone was looking at me like I was the weird one. And they were right.

On our way home is when I realized that I loved living here. We were driving down our little country road to our house, fields on either side, and we suddenly saw what looked like a man that was actually a woman in the middle of the road flailing her arms begging us to stop. Gracie, who has watched too many horror films and lived in a city for too long, yelled that we should not stop the car because "THIS IS HOW PEOPLE GET MURDERED!!" She was convinced that the man/woman who was in the middle of the road was going to pull out a knife and slash our throats or at the very least kidnap us and sell us into a sex slavery ring in Albania. We were actually confused and didn’t know what to do and didn’t know what this person was doing in the middle of the road until… Until we stopped our car and out of nowhere came a herd of sheep crossing the road. We all just sat in the car speechless. And this is when I decided that Provence is the greatest place on earth. Psychiatric hospitals, feral cats in the street, smoking produce vendors, foie gras farmers, Gypsy children, buildings that needed to be “power washed”, unrefrigerated dairy products, exhibits in quarries, and boar sausage… Green acres is the life for me.

*Well that was a fun Thanksgiving Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale! I’m so glad you liked everything. And I’m super excited that the blue-and-white was a hit! Each of the blue-and-white had 10 pieces available and there are a few left if you need it! All of your packages are being wrapped up and getting ready to be shipped this week. The blue-and-white will be shipped within 10 days. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. The next sale will be in January for my French antiques but the shop will be open all the time for blue-and-white. Now, let's start getting ready for Christmas! But first, make sure you don’t miss tonight’s season premiere of The Housewives of Beverly Hills! #TeamYolanda

46 comments:

  1. What a fabulous post. Walking/driving along with you to these locales made my day! Glad you love your new home.

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  2. Once again totally fabulous story! I enjoyed it tremendously and I adore foi gras! I will have all of Gracie's portions please! It makes me so happy that you are enjoying your new home! I now have a new goal to spend some time in Provence. Looking forward to more information on what to visit. I will be avoiding the French Walmart at all costs. xoxoxoxox Elena

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  3. Welcome to the hood, Ellie...
    I'll be there soon and hopefully we can compare notes... :) xv

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  4. Your new home is meeting and exceeding all your expectations. I am so glad that you are enjoying Provence. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights in to country living. Sounds like you have a sheep farmer living nearby. How is Teddy settling in? He seems so sweet. Susan

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  5. It seems like I remember seeing photos on either a blog or magazine of a wedding reception held at that wonderful spot with the projected photos. Great travelogue.

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  6. Fabulous post, as always, and beautiful pictures. We have vacationed in Provence a couple of times and absolutely adored St. Remy and Les Baux. You have found your "special place" and I look forward to many beautiful and humorous postings. You are amazing.

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  7. I.just. love you. Not in a creepy way mind. Thanks for showing us quirky beauty which is my favorite. I wish Bunny would smile. I worry. Codependent anyone? ox

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  8. oh now I want some ruffles. I haven't had those in like fifteen years. Can you even get Ruffles in France? They teach us in fat school not to steal handicapped spots, it's just bad PR.
    I don't have the attention span for museum type things but I think even I would love that exhibit. So beautiful that you felt it so strongly. It kind of sounds like living in the Leftovers opening theme (don't bother watching it if you haven't, it's ugly and Justin Thoreaux is too clothed, oh and the plot is annoying).
    It's terrible and I'm such a hypocrite but I love this tale of foie gras. Im so happy that you're so happy in your new home!

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    1. Yes, you can get ruffles brand in france, and also french brands that are ruffled, you would be fine.
      bonnie in languedoc and provence

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  9. Ellie, hearing about your adventures in your new home is just great, I'm so happy for you! Kudos to David for orchestrating such a great outing to the limestone quarry (and for helping you make your Provençal wishes come true). Have you encountered a Provençal Mr. Haney yet? Or Mr. Ziffel and Arnold?

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  10. Carrières de Lumières is my #1 suggestion to people who ask me where to go when they visit Le Sud. The first time we went in, my husband and I grabbed each other and gasped. Then I burst into tears. It is really one of the best experiences I have had in life. Since they change the program every year, we go back every time we are there. So glad you went!! (I seem to remember telling Heather to take you there....) And our favorite restaurant is in Fontvielle! You really are smack dab in the middle of my favorite part of the world, and I could not be happier for you!

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  11. I love that you love living in Provence! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us, through your post and beautiful pictures. Totally #TeamYolanda....

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  12. Winnie, JohannesburgDecember 2, 2015 at 1:43 AM

    I just want you to come and live with me. I absolutely love your sense of humour, but then I am irish. I wish I could be your house guest for a week. I love Gracie as she reminds me of my 21 year old daughter! As for The Green Acres clip, brought back such happy memories of my youth and my Dad. Love you Ellie

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  13. Yes, I felt the same way at the Carrieres des Lumieres! Country people are lovely, they are usually gracious, friendly and kind.When I discovered fuseaux de lavande, the ladies who made them invited me to come to their village and visit their atelier, which was a dirt-floored lean-to. It turned out their work had been featured in Vogue! Foie gras - After many years of testing I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way to eat it: Slice a frozen foie thinly, place slices on crostini brushed with evoo, sprinkle with sea salt and broil until the foie gras starts to melt. Eat immediately. Now - I hope you will tell us about your first Thanksgiving dinner in Provence!

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  14. So happy about your adventures! Just what you need, by the sound of it. Gracie is getting a PROPER French education now! Bear hugs to you and Teddy.

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  15. You have truly hit the high spots in a short time. Eygalieres is beautiful, one of the most expensive housing markets in that part of the world. St. Remy is just plain wonderful, and St. Paul de Maussole is not to be believed. How can it still be there, looking the same? I will definitely check in when it just becomes too much for me in the real world. Auchan! Not where one enjoys shopping, but if searching for something a bit odd (for instance, rice vinegar) you may find it there. One of my favorite garments is one I got at the market in Eygalieres ten years ago (it was from Italy, but still.....). I'm ashamed to say I have not made it to the Carrieres, although I have been to Le Baux a few times, note to self: "do that". I'm delighted that you're settling into Provence, please don't power wash Avignon.
    bonnie

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    1. Bonnie, it wasn't even an Auchan, it was LeClerc! Which I consider mega classy compared to the rest! Yay to not power-washing Avignon, even if at times it is slightly skanky...#iloveprovence

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  16. Ellie, lovely! Could you tell us about the green juice that you drink. You'd written about it once but can't find it now. There was a link you'd given for a green juice. Could you please share that?

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  17. What a wonderful outing! Wonder what other adventures David has up his sleeve? I love your writing style. Witty, humorous, and quite engaging! I almost felt I was experiencing it with you.

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  18. Oh, Ellie! Like the Velveteen Bunny you are so Real. I see that beautiful/sweet facade in your photos and think what a surprise lies behind those eyes. It makes me giggle aloud when you share with us what you Really think. Love everywhere you take us and loving the journey!!

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  19. So much living to be done in Provence. Oh, to be living, once again, in Spain or France. xoxo Mary

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  20. Ellie, we were just there. I'm so happy for you. I'm a happy Canadian who gets to spend 2 months in Provence each fall. We were in Sorgue last weekend. Please go and tell everyone about it.

    Ali

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  21. Ellie all I have to say is I'm so happy that you are happy!
    Lourdes

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  22. Oh Ellie....I am smiling reading this post. You sound so very happy!
    I laughed when you said Gracie thought the wee village needed power washing....Saint Agen felt a bit like that when we went to the Market. There is something sexy about those farmers in their berets and scarves...I can't quite figure it out but I did appreciate my time in the south of France.
    I had NO idea that there would be a Walmart type store anywhere near Provence!!!! That must have been a big of a shock.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful adventures.

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  23. I am dizzy.... From the vintage Chanel scarf around Gracie's "Marella Agnelli" neck to the bloody, fresh foie gras. From a nancy Myers movie set to the "French " version of Walmart ( complete with smoking gypsy children) .From the heavenly experience of great art and opera to the serenity of a car stopping for sheep to cross the road . Thank you for taking me down the "rabbit hole " with you..... Forget Alice in Wonderland.... We all get to experience " Ellie in Provance". Love, Bitsy

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  24. God, you make me laugh....Bisous

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  25. Felt as though I was experiencing YOUR experience first hand! Wonderful post. I have a smile on my face where there wasn't one 10 minutes ago. Merci, Ellie!

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  26. Les adventures de Provence are well underway! So glad to know that it's everything you imagined and more. Kudos to whoever dreamed up the amazing limestone quarry art exhibit. I enjoy living vicariously in Provence! Hugs.

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  27. Just beyond amazing! I love everything except the fois gras! Cannot handle that at all. The art exhibit with the opera music is just beyond. I don't think I would ever leave. Thank you for sharing your many adventures.

    My girl friend has a special dislike of able bodied people parking in handicapped spots as do I. I love her way of deal with them. She walks right up to them, she's all of 5 feet tall, born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas with a strong Texas accent, dressed to the nines always and tells them that handicapped parking spaces are for the physically handicapped, not the mentally handicapped! xx Valorie

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  28. I enjoy your posts Ellie and think so many of your experiences are wonderful and life affirming but when it comes to foie gras and so many other animal abuses that are committed in the name of ''good cuisine''' i have trouble with it..big trouble. These poor creatures are so tortured in their short lives in order to provide an indulgence that is not necessary for human health or pleasure. I often wonder if people truly know and understand the extent to which animals are tortured..there really is no other word for it...and if they would continue to find pleasure in consuming things that had to suffer so. As a human who is strruggling with physical difficulties i find that i am much more aware of how unpleasant life can be when it is so compromised but i shudder to think that we have to have such a personal wake up call in order to understand the plight of other ''living beings''...animals much included in this process. People who think that dominion over animals is a right or a given need to really read about how things arrive on a plate for our consumption and then I WOULD HOPE that attitudes might change for the betterment of our animal friends. btw...how is Teddy?

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  29. Omg!! I am sitting here eating Ruffles potato chips with ranch dip. I am hysterically laughing over your post. I never knew my soulmate lived in France. Now I have to figure out if it's you or that mean guy who parked in the handicap spot's wife.

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  30. SO,DAVID COMMUTES????WHAT A CHAMPION HE IS.............BUT we already KNEW THAT!
    YOU are one SPECIAL PERSON...............LOVED THE SHEEP CROSSING and LOVED YOUR DESCRIPTION of EVERYTHING ELSE!!!YOU have FOUND your GREEN ACRES.......and as I said on your INSTAGRAM I want to be ZSA ZSA!
    Thrilled VICKI ARCHER will be in touch...............
    When is the cocktail PARTY?I want to see photos of ALL the commenters who are attending!!!
    I LOVED YOUR PHOTOS.........WE NEED MORE PHOTOS OF YOU by the way!
    SO HAPPY YOU GOT YOUR GREEN ACRES............."IS THE PLACE TO BE!"It was one of my favorite SHOWS as a child!
    XOXO

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  31. Ellie, I love going along on your tour of the region from the Upper Crust areas to the Walmart and Gypsys of the area! The images are beyond great, and I love to see you looking so happy on these journeys!! I would be in heaven to walk the area where Van Gogh painted Starry Starry Night!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Books for the Holidays

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  32. Hi Ellie,
    Vive La France! There is nothing like Provence--the area is magical!
    I look forward to reading your blog everyday. You are an inspiration! and so much passion! I can almost breathe the air!
    Your writings make me smile everytime! thank you
    So happy you are enjoying your new home!
    much love, martha

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  33. Gracie can hang with me at The Fat Market, foie gras, ooh I find it disgusting. I could faint just thinking of it. Also she's right Avignon could use a power wash, when I was there I remember thinking "dusty".
    My gosh you've been busy, it's only been a month and look at everything you've done... are you resting during the week when your family is in Paris, I'm guessing you are. Lovely fantastic outings and thank you for taking us with you on them, what a perfect spot for your adventures. XOX

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  34. Nothing wrong with LeClerc! Have visited France twice a year for many years, including Provence. Maybe you visited one in a dodgy area. There is a hierarchy of supermarkets here in the UK - Waitrose, Marks & Spencers (but not a full supermarket range available), Sainsbury's, Tescos, Morrisons, Asda, Aldi, Lidl. Of course my local is a Waitrose!
    Did not like Walmart in the USA.
    By the way, in the UK eggs are never kept in the refrigerated sections of shops.
    regards
    EL

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  35. Ellie, you make me laugh so much, but I am also insanely jealous of you and your adventures in Provence!
    We are moving to England from Canada in the new year, so I plan on spending many happy weekends in
    Provence. I hope to see you at the brocante.
    Love, Lorraine

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  36. I need someone to declare me insane (I'm sure I could find lots of volunteers) and that the only cure to my illness was a nice long stay in St Remy at VvG's former digs. It would do wonders for my mental state, but I think it would require very lengthy treatment, primarily focused on 'art therapy'. Maybe then I could get off my ass and start creating again (which will be my New Year's resolution, again).
    Thank you for the delightful tour. I'm so happy that you have fallen in love with your new home. I bet Teddy has too.
    xoxo

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  37. That was great!
    The vintage Chanel scarves would sell in your store like hotcakes!
    Feel bad for Yolanda. She seems like such a truly good, decent person.
    Sheila

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  38. Great post! I felt like I was there! Especially with the French man/woman and the sheep incident! I love your entertaining writing style. You really have a flair for taking me on your journey!

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  39. There are a million things I could say about this post, but the art in the quarry has completely distracted me from them. The sheep crossing is a close second. Does your husband love Provence as much as you?

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  40. What an adventurous weekend. Fie upon those parking spot people. The worst! I love Saint-Rémy. Absolutely magical.

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  41. OMG...you are simply amazing...mind you...you have a pretty cool kid and husband too!...Thank you, Thank you...
    for being you!

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  42. Wait, I have read and reread this post a gazillion times and haven't left a comment save for my "defense" of LeClerc? For shame! Because it just makes me deleriously happy to watch you discover this beautiful region...I love it all. And can tell you that after ten years in Provence, there is still SO much left that I haven't seen yet!

    With much Love to you always neighbor,
    Hbis

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  43. Oh, this was such a wonderful blog post! I almost felt like I was right there in Provence with you and in the marked looking at all those beautiful vegetables. You always have the best pictures and they are such a joy as you take pictures that is worth seeing. I love France and to live through your blog is just the best kind. You have such a wonderful way of writing your blog, which I love! The exhibit and the paintings looked amazing!! So beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    Have a wonderful Saturday!

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