What’s the most heard phrase on French autoroutes these days? Route recalculation. Turn back!
We’ve been hanging out on the French Riviera for about a week now, and adjusting to life out of Africa. We’re living in a quintessential French village called Pignans, with a bakery just steps from our front door and a farmer’s market every Thursday.
There are about 3,700 people in the village. The alley next to us is called “Rue de l’enfer” (Hell street), which might explain the need for a Gallo Roman church and a Saracen clock tower.
Instead of the call to prayer repeated five times a day, church bells ring out on the hour every hour (locations not in sync). One bell rings on the half hour (not sure why the second doesn’t).
Having bells ring out twice is kind of handy. In the early morning when you are sleepy, you may not be sure whether you heard the first couple of gongs. Instead, you can listen for the second bell and be sure to know whether it is 4, 5, or 6:00 am.
Telling time by church bells aside, Pignans is quite a cute little village. Our villa is part of a 600 year old building and has a very cozy, wood burning fireplace.
We’ve developed a terrible ritual every night that involves drinking wine, eating cheese and staring at the flames. We may have broken that habit today by drinking beer on our terrasse in the late afternoon sun, but we’ll see what happens this evening.
We’re still noticing the differences between East and West, North and South. I’m sure all of five people work at city hall in Pignans, but there is garbage pick up four days a week and recycling once a week.
We are amazed at how many times a tiny street cleaner makes its way down our alley to wash the cobble stones clean. And the other day we saw a city worker painting bollards that mark the distinction between the street and the square where people drink their beer (an important line of demarcation).
The typical entrances to villas consist of large, wooden doors. Our villa is no different, and the key to get inside is almost as big as Claire’s shoe. Kinda like that snail we saw in Vietnam.
We been out and about exploring the region, which is why we’ve become familiar with the sound of our GPS. We’ve been as far as Avignon (and danced on the bridge) as well as to St. Tropez and Toulon. The girls are happy that it’s too cold to sunbathe, because I threatened to go topless like other French women.
Yes it’s still a little chilly. But with views like our cover photo, who cares?