Hello to all from Provence –

I have arrived safe and sound for my last hurrah and the sale of the house.  It was

L'Atellier des Alpilles

L'Atellier des Alpilles

seven years ago that I embarked on the crazy journey of buying a house in the village of St. Remy.  Foolish?  Lucky?  Brave?  Naïve?  There was certainly a lot of ignorance about what it was going to take.  And I suppose that’s a good thing as I never would have ventured towards this direction if I had known the challenge.

As most of you know it has been an extreme roller coaster of an experience.

On one side:  The frustration of doing business in a language and culture that I struggle with, the unexpected phone calls delivering news that the roof is leaking, a pipe has broken, the trees are sick, the increasing euro, “no you can’t have a pool”,  – and on and on.

On the other side:  The friends and family who traveled this way to share a bottle (or

A Little Wine with my Friends

A Little Wine with my Friends

6) of wine, enjoy the amazing cuisine, experience the beauty of the countryside, sit around the table playing cards, build roaring fires, pick cherries from the trees – all while having endless laughs.  And, of course, the new friends I have made.

The good has certainly outweighed the difficult.  But, now this adventure is coming to a close.

My friend Trish traveled with me and is now sleeping soundly after long hours of

Endless Fields of Poppies

Endless Fields of Poppies

travel and a few glasses of rose.  My house is rented this week so for a couple of nights, we are staying down the street at my friend Ed’s beautiful mas (17th century country house).  It’s been a rainy spring but now the sun shines bright on lush green fields filled with wild red poppies.  The flowers and tress are blooming anew and everything is so fresh and clean.  Provence is always a far cry from LA.

It’s now Sunday morning – 5:30am – and I can’t sleep.  I would love to say it was because of the jet lag.  In truth, it’s probably the excess of wine and champagne.  Shocking, I know!  It’s only Sunday but, it’s been a non-stop couple of days and so it feels like Thursday.

Our first night, Trish and I headed to town for a light bite.  As always, I headed for Bistro des Alpilles with hopes of seeing my friend Sebastian.  For those who recall my first 7 weeks of renovating the house, Bistro des Alpilles and Sebastian played an important role.  Besides the fact he is adorable (OK, pretty hot) the restaurant was inviting and the food excellent.  Almost daily I ate either dinner or lunch sharing my accomplishments with the waiters and drowning my fears in the Sancerre.

I received my first sign that it was the right time to sell the house.  Sebastian was no longer at Bistro des Alpilles.  What?  Huh?  The earth was tilting.  Things were not right in Oz.  A waiter seeing me struggle with the news explained that after 12 years, Sebastian had moved on.  He had moved two doors up the street to Mirabeau.  Silly me.  Of course, he would not have gone far.  Sebastian once told me “St. Remy is his life.  It’s good.”

We popped up the street and the world was righted.  Sebastian was thrilled to see me and to meet “Patricia Deux”.  Nicola (another friend/waiter from the Bistro) was at the bar having a beer.  Nicola was expecting his second baby any moment.  I had a moment reflecting on the fact that I celebrated the birth of Sebastian’s second child, Nicola’s first and now his second.  In seven years, more was built than my house.

Trish tucked into a glass of rose and I started with the local favorite – Pastis.  It was a warm night and we sat outside enjoying the scenes of the village and planning the week.  Trish seemed to love everything.  I can’t remember what we ate – but the pommes frites hit the spot!  Not only had Sebastian departed the Bistro – the chef had also left to open a new restaurant.  Jean-Pierre now had Salon de Provence.  Jean-Pierre came by to invite us to his new place.

Friday morning, we had grand plans to wake early and go for a hike before devouring some hot fresh croissants. It’s was 10am and with Trish still asleep I quickly moved our plans to just having lunch.  Oh, well.  When in France…

Friday night we tried Jean–Pierre’s new place.  Like many in the village, it’s small with about 10 – 12 tables.  We were seated at the best table by the kitchen.  Trish faced the kitchen and noticed Jean-Pierre looking at our table often to see if we were enjoying our meal.  I don’t think a Michellin Star is in his future but it was a good meal and a lovely night.

Saturday, we again had grand plans but somehow not much happened.  We moved over to my house and Trish loved seeing the house all put together.  I didn’t realize she had only seen pictures from “before”.  It has come a long way.  The rooms may be painted and decorated but there are always a few spider webs to greet me.  It’s always a funny feeling to travel so far and a year later and yet, the house still stands pretty much as I left it.  I’m not sure what I expect when I arrive – the house to be a different color?  the furniture to be missing?  a pool magically installed?  I guess I should be grateful there is still a roof (OK, a leaky roof, but it’s still there), the doors are solid and the wine is safely in the cellar.

Saturday night, we wandered into town for dinner.  We stopped by Le Lizard – the hopping locals joint and ran smack into another friend – Pascal.  Pascal, who lived in Santa Monica for a few years has been very helpful during my time in St. Remy.  As a bartender he kept me well plied with Pastis and funny stories about the local gossip IN ENGLISH!!!  It was always nice to stop in and chat in the Mother Tongue.  Alas, he was fired (probably for talking too much and not working enough) and he is now a private chauffeur.  Trish is quickly meeting the “gang”.

After a lovely aperitif we went to see Xavier at Mistral Gourmand.  Another tiny

A Fab Restaurant

A Fab Restaurant

village restaurant (with 10 tables) but the food is fantastic.  And Xavier’s selection of wines from the region at a reasonable cost it not to be beat.  While we dined, Nicola arrived to announce that his little girl “Zoe” was born that afternoon.  He and Xavier opened a bottle of wine in the kitchen and celebrated.  Just as Trish and I were getting ready to leave, Nicola brought his dinner to our table – and ANOTHER bottle of wine.  I know it’s hard to believe, but we stayed and enjoyed some more rouge.  Somehow it was decided that Nicola, Xavier and Sebastian would come over Monday night.  I guess we are having a little party – or maybe just drinks – I can’t quite remember all the details.

It’s now going on 7am and the sun is coming up over the olive trees across the road.  How I wish I could paint.  Today, we are off to Isle sur la Sorgue and Gordes.  It’s part of the Patty Provence Tour.  Willy and Cornelius are coming for dinner.  Just like my LA friends, they understand that “dinner” means wine and cheese – if they actually want something cooked they have to be prepared to help make that happen!

To date, I have focused on the sale of the house and what it means to let that go.  But, as I look back on the last few days, it’s also letting go of a community of friends that I am now a part of.  They have all assured me that without a house, I have a bed to stay in at their homes.  Maybe I accomplished a little more than I thought…

Much love to all – remember – there is still time to come visit!

Patricia (One)

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