C'est si bon!

Bonjour à tous! Je suis Vanessa, étudiante de 20 ans en France pour le moment. Je viens de Pékin, mais j'étudie à la fac à Chicago.

Hello! My name is Vanessa, a 20-year-old student in France for the moment. I come from Beijing, but I go to college in Chicago.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Being a Provençal lady: the quotidian, the festivals, and more

at the local carousel
Bonjour à tous!

I believe it's time to recount the Provençal traditions that I've encountered in the past week. In general, the life of a Provençal lady basically means that you gotta love summer, because it is so hot here! The sun makes everything shine an extremely bright hue, exactly in Van Gogh's paintings during his stay in Arles. (Yes, Van Gogh lived here! More about that in a separate blog post to come.)

But, despite the heat, there is plenty of things to enjoy and even celebrate! Last weekend, there was a music festival in town, and everyone came into the streets to see the bands, dance troupes, and there was even a flash mob! And then on Tuesday, I witnessed, with many Arles locals, the celebration of "Le Feu de Saint Jean" (the bonfire of Saint Jean).

Rue des Porcelets
Place du Forum
feu de Saint Jean
Before the fire, people gathered on a square to write down wishes on little pieces of colored paper distributed by women dressed in traditional costumes. The paper is for writing down wishes, which will be tied to the firewood and later be burned. It is believed that in this way, the wish will come true. So of course, I wished on a great life with my love.

my wish 
firewood with wishes attached
carousel at night
dancing after the fire
traditional Provençal costume
ritual before the fire
After the bonfire was started, everyone gathered in circles and danced a complicated dance where numerous partner changes occurred, and the choreography was simply dizzying! I was pulled into the circle by strangers, but once we joined hands, I felt like I became part of the celebration, part of the tradition. It was joyous, and I was touched to see so many people still enthusiastic about participating  in and respecting traditions.

Apart from the loud, merry festivities, the quotidian life in Provence is also enjoyable. 

local florist
"street signs" found in town 
my neighbor's babies 
puppies on the town square
Many families here take pride in their parenting (look how cute and well-behaved the little ones are!) and their pets (equally cute puppies, non?). Along the streets, one can also find an abundance of plants and flowers for the pleasure of the eye.

On Saturdays, locals also visit the famous, 2-kilometer long market where one can find almost everything! Clothes, accessories, cookeries, ethnic costumes, CDs, shoes, books, seafood, vegetables and fruits... 

This morning I went to the market with my host Maman, where we bought the weekend's supply of food for the family. The farmer's market part of the market was jostling with locals bargaining for colorful, fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruits. Under the sun, I listened to the almost playful banter between vendors and customers, and the repeated "have a good week, see you next week" after each transaction. 

Farmer's Market
vendor of fruits
filling the bottle with olive oil
buying vegetables for the weekend 
tomatoes and melons
the seafood section of the market

fresh fish
the "Bouillabaisse" that Marseille is famous for 
rotisserie at the market
This is all for now. Have a good weekend!

Vanessa :]

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