Colours of Provence

I’m still trying to recover from the serious change in weather last week.  The rainstorms had me hibernating like a bear in its den.  All my energy was sapped; I felt listless and lifeless.  I just wanted to sit.  And do nothing.  The skies were grey and sad, not the azure blue that I love.  Even chez les parents the mood was low, low, low.  It rained all day, 24 hours straight, on Monday.  While things weren’t bad in Coustellet (the Vaucluse), our neighbours in the Gard and in the Var received so much rain that many businesses and homes were flooded.  Families were evacuated to shelters and many beach-front businesses were destroyed due to the high waves and strong winds.

The rain did eventually stop and blue skies have prevailed since.  And while many may say that this was the worst rainstorm ever I think people’s memories are short and very forgiving.  It is Provence after all, where sunshine, blue skies, and pastis are the topic of conversation.

The change to drier weather also brought with it another provençal activity: la cueillette des olives.  D and I had visited with les parents last week with the hopes that it would be dry enough to pick the olives from their trees.  Luck wasn’t with us so after a few days at home in Nice, we returned to Coustellet on Saturday for la cueillette.  Last year, we harvested 104.5 kg of beautiful olives.  This year, the harvest was lower due mainly to the lack of rain the region received this summer.  (And if you’re wondering, yes, the recent rainstorms did help plump up the olives.)  D and I spent Sunday combing olives from the trees while the parents sorted the olives.  Our yield was 97 kg and les parents will return to the mill on Saturday to pick up their oil.

If you’ve ever visited a market in Provence, either in person or via the many provençal blogs/websites, you probably have seen many an olive vendor.  Olives are an absolutely beautiful fruit and their colour range from a vibrant fresh green to plum purple to a purple so dark they appear black.  And the smell!  I can’t explain how sweet and yet how fresh the olives smell.  The smell of a very good quality olive oil can only hint at how wonderful the fruit smells.

The smell and colour of olives are just a small pleasure that comes with a visit to a market in Provence.  These markets are colourful in the language used — some of it far from being highbrow — to the products that each vendor sells.  The market in Coustellet is one of my favourites mainly because it was the first provençal market I got to know.  From our favourite jam vendor to the vendor selling saucissons and cheeses to the nougat!  You can also pick items such as soaps and tableware for your home.  The challenge then becomes how to choose just one item to take home.

I present you with a similar challenge, this time online.  A new e-store has just opened where you can get a bit of Provence in your home.  Check out Provence Rugs for a quick peek at their colourful handmade rugs and accessories.   Libby and Delana from Provence Rugs are also giving away prizes during their launch party.  Visit Delana’s website du jour for details.

How’s that for a little colour?

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Categories: market, olives, Provence

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and self-fulfillment...in France!

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4 Comments on “Colours of Provence”

  1. November 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM #

    Thank you so much for mentioning our colorful new webstore! We really appreciate your support. iAsforthe olives, my favorite time is when the olives cassées are available…and now I’m afraid they’re all gone and I must wait till next year. Do you ever make them?

    • November 15, 2011 at 10:54 PM #

      My pleasure Delana; I’m happy to spread the word.
      No, I’ve never made them but I really should considering that my in-laws have trees in their yard. Maybe next year.

  2. November 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    97kg!! My goodness!

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