Our little town of St Quentin la Poterie is opening up, like Provence in Spring will do. It's a small town, and a quiet town. The streets are never full. You don't see more than a few people going from place to place. If you want to catch shops open, like the boucherie or the boulangerie that sells the better brioche, you have to be both a bit psychic and a little lucky.
In the last few weeks, things have been changing. People are everywhere! At lunchtime I see tables out, filled with diners, at restaurants that weren't even open when we arrived. The artisan workshops on every street, where I peek in at the beautiful handmade pottery in dark windows as I walk by, suddenly have their doors flung open, and shoppers inside.
A group of ladies stopped us on the street yesterday to ask where the Tourist office was, and Eleanor was happy to be able to take them to it. It's always fun for the kids (and us) to feel a little like a local.
As I was grabbing a hard sausage for lunch at the market, a woman asked me (in English!) where she might find bacon. "Proper British bacon?" I asked doubtfully. "You could try Carrefour, in Uzés, maybe."
My neighbors say that this is the beginning of the busy tourist season. There is definitely more to offer around here. More shops to wander into and buy things. More cafes to sit and have a coffee. I haven't done any of these things yet. I realized today that I might just spend 2 months in the renown French potters village, and never go into one of the shops that people come from all over to world to visit. The poterie is very beautiful, but what would I do with it? I don't have a home to take it home to!
Market Day is twice a week now instead of once. Today, our last day in town, is a Friday, the bigger market day. AND this weekend is the Festival L'accordéon Plein Pot, which loosely translates to Full Jar Of Accordion! The town is packed!! Bob and Ella and I spent more than a hour wandering around the market, saying goodbye to people we had met, buying for the last time our weekly auberge in tomato sauce, goat cheese rounds, and fresh handmade artichoke-filled pasta. My boucherie guy has started grilling at the market! That's him in the hat. Ella helped her friends behind the charcuterie counter for a while. Bob looked at knives and bought local wine. I stood in the sun and watched everything, committing it to memory. We recorded the audio clip above at today's market.
I've had fun watching Spring in Provence, with all that it has to offer. But I'm also very glad that we were here for the quiet before the storm. The time when it was just the villagers, and an American family who could pretend for a little while.