Nine months later...

... not a baby, no. Just nine months since June, which is when I should have written this post and published it.

You know? I know I have a blog.
And yes, I haven't been on it for the past six months? And I have no excuse. In fact, I should have been writing more considering that I'm living in GLASGOW at the moment. Which is a far cry from ye old Beirut. But Glasgow isn't what I'll be talking about today. Nor will I be talking about rubbing banana peel, and lathering (lots of!) olive oil on my face. Nor will I be talking about my chronic online shopping disorder. Nor will I be going on about how entertaining I find celebrity face-swaps. Nor will I be praising my improved skills at procrastination. Nor will I be talking about my upcoming pixie cut.

(YES, WORLD, IT IS HAPPENING: I am officially turning into a pre-pubescent (trans?)boy with
large hips and a tiny tiny voice. And I cannot be more excited about it. But more on that when it actually happens.)

Anyway, I think you get the picture.

I am going to be writing today about the Provence. Last June, my mom and I went to Provence. The trip was complete with nerve-racking, picturesque moments, stress, dress, and lavender fields. We happened to be in France around the time the trains decided to go on strike. And you can imagine whose nerves this unfortunate occurrence tested the most. (I'm looking at you mom.)

So I was thinking, I have some pretty cool pictures-- why not share them?

If you've (not sure whether I am talking to myself when I write "you" or whether somebody, a real, live, human being, actually reads this blog and takes my advice) never been to the South of France, you must definitely go.

And... here we go!

First stop: Paris (where it always starts-- we land in Paris and meet my uncle and cousins, and then go exploring.) I had never visited the Château de Fontainebleau, and was quite ecstatic about seeing the forest! I ended up seeing only the gardens of the Château, but pretended they were the forest anyway. You are being spared the excessive trial-and-error-but-kept-anyway portraits. Revel in that luxury, 'kay?

(not sure how that one got away! aha. yes I do. I included it on purpose.)

Second stop: Avignon!
We were super excited about visiting Avignon-- mom had been going on about Avignon for years. Turns out, so were all the elderly couples we met there! My mom wasn't impressed with the "Palais des Papes," mostly because she felt that it was bare and lifeless. I found it fascinating. I didn't think it mattered what it looked like today. What was more important was the fact that it had survived several, very different, eras. As, with most of us-- our histories make us who we are. Sure, compared to Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque or even Art Nouveau architecture, it doesn't have much to offer, aesthetically. But aren't most aesthetics supposed to have a specific, functional purpose? Not all, no, you're right. I can see you right there, you're criticising my stale argumentation. Let's not argue and enjoy my pictures. We spent one day visiting Avignon, we met lots of elderly couples, but it was nice. It's now off the bucket list. The rest of the city was (unsurprisingly) calm. In fact it was so calm, and the streets were so empty that we got frightened and decided to call it a day.

(Aha! Another one!)

Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse! (I did not dance. I mostly took selfies. Not that I'm proud of that. I took selfies for myselfie. I did not take selfies to inflict them upon the universe.)

Third stop: Arles! Can I just profess my love to this city? If I had to choose a French city to live in, it would be Arles, hands down. There's something about old cities... Time has stopped and birds still chirp, and there are bookstores and hat shops around the corner, and you could get lost in the streets forever. For someone who lives in a city where old buildings fall as easily (and as painfully as Axl Rose sings) November rain and new buildings rise as fast as cake in an oven (with too much sodium bicarbonate,) (I'm sorry if that was too much) (it still is too much isn't it?) (I'm going to start that sentence over.) What I'm trying to say is that for someone who lives in Beirut, seeing a city that has preserved its heritage, its history and not denied the world its real story, is a privilege. It's so much easier to appreciate civilisation when you come from a place that is now starting to lack the proof of existence of previous civilisations and actual civilisation as a virtue in its people. (No offence intended.) Mom thought that Arles looked too much like Rome, which is only natural seeing how it was a roman city. I found it absolutely beautiful. 

Fourth Stop: Camargue/Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. After Arles, we drove on (when I say we, I mean mom drove on, while I sat in the passenger seat supervising the GPS) through the Camargue area, which is sometimes called The Far-West of the South of France! Or at least that's what I recall the owner of the hotel we stayed at telling us in between bits about his life story. We returned every night, feeling so tired we could fall asleep standing up, but always had to go through the old man telling us about his youth and glory as a scuba-diver etc. Under different circumstances, it may have been fun.) Camargue it was then. Now Camargue is mostly a large natural park covered in lagoons. We only drove through the area, and saw parts of the Étang de Vaccarès, and reached Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer located at the farthest point south and the beach was absolutely beautiful! On the way back, we ran into flamigos and lost our minds! Aha. This is the extent of how silly we were.


Fifth stop: Les Baux de Provence, which is a village located high up in the mountains. It reminded mom of the mountains in Lebanon. It reminded me of nothing, I was too hungry to think-- that plate of food you'll see along with these pictures was my dinner that day! (The ice cream was a pre-dinner treat.)

My dinner! In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Sixth stop: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a little town that is known for its antique shops and lovely little markets!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this lady with her dog! I ain't no sartorialist, so I awkwardly included her in the corner of my picture just because I though that she got style, yo!

Seventh stop: La Fontaine de Vaucluse-- also reminded mom of a river in Lebanon! 

Eighth stop: Gordes, this magnificent village perched on the hill. The views reminded mom of the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, and she pointed out disappointedly that these views are so déjà-view. (On purpose.)

Ninth stop: The Lavender fields at last! Probably the only thing we wanted to see! We were actually quite bummed when we reached the Abbaye de Sénanque, only to realize that this early in June, the Lavenders had not yet reached their full purple potential... But then we ventured into the countryside and found a huge field and basically just took millions of photos there. The hotel owner – God bless him! – informed us volubly that the Lavender that grows at the bottom of the mountain is called Lavandin and is slightly different to the real Lavander that grows on higher altitudes. The country produces large quantities of Lavender essential oil and it is impossible for it to do so harvesting only the real lavender which has a shorter life span and is sort of rarer. Also, what the pictures don't show you, are all the bees between the flowers! (Miel pops c'est bzz bzz bzz, bzz bzz bzz. Google that. Or click here.)

Tenth stop: Marseilles! We spent an entire, very very emotional day in Marseilles, where Mom decided dramatically that she would drop our final stop (Toulouse) and return home. That day, we took a mini boat trip around the Calanques of Marseilles, before indulging in an expensive lunch at a three-star restaurant. The food was exquisite! They offered us some lovely entrées on the house, and one of them was a mini serving of cucumbery yogurt (I have no other words for it. It was yogurt with cucumbers. Something I've eaten my entire life. Lyfe.) I tasted it and was putting it away, disappointed that it wasn't novel and extraordinary, when the chef walked by our table, nervously rubbing his hands together. He paused, his eyes widening and inquired, surprised: "Vous avez pas aimé?!" I replied that no, no, I quite liked it, at which point he relaxed and carried on his long and arduous journey through the empty restaurant. Ah, lyfe. Marseilles was beautiful, but also a rather popular area. It did have its charm, despite its streets being dirty. On that very same day, they phoned us from Lebanon to inform us that there was a flood in our apartment. It was all very intense.

Final Stop: Toulouse! In Toulouse, we relaxed! We happened to be there on the Fête de la Musique, so we spent the evening enveloped in music and people and life. Lyfe. 


Back in Beirut, these were the treasures we brought with us!

Tata from Sarah.

ps: This is the first post that I write outside of Beirut. I've uploaded 71 images in less than three minutes. In Lebanon, I would have needed to leave my laptop on overnight, for the images to upload, after having shrunk them in size. 

pps: Wikipedia informs me that Edith Wharton bought the Castle Sainte-Claire in Hyères, Provence in 1927. I am totally copycatting you, Edith Wharton! One day!

ppps: I was feeling down today. For no reason at all. But writing this post has cheered me up. (cheesed me up!)


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