I finally met Debby Bines The Barefoot Blogger in Uzes this morning for the famous saturday market. I was introduced to Debby and her Barefoot Blogger site through my old friend Lynn Duggan and when I knew I’d be in Provence I emailed her to see if she’d be in town and could have lunch. Debby is a 60 something, single, retired, woman, who chucked it all and moved to an apartment in Uzes a year ago. She’s also a serious blogger and is always looking for a new story to write about, to the delight of her many followers. After spending the day with her it’s clear she’s curious about anything Uzes, a home she loves, and interested in people in general. It turned out we had a lot in common and hit it off immediately. Debby is very easy to talk to and easy going.
I didn’t realize how large this market is. It not only fills the main square but spills out to all the surrounding streets. For the Provencals its a way of life, there are markets in every town and locals stock up for the week because the food is fresh, not expensive, and plentiful. Everyone walks around with their straw market tote with leather handles chatting with neighbors, joking with their favorite vendors, and getting serious about what’s for dinner. You can buy practically anything, food of all kinds of course, but also clothing, household goods, children’s clothes and toys, baskets, jewelry and crafts, everything except battery cables (Debby searched Uzes and none to be found)! I guess Uzes isn’t perfect after all! I’m fascinated with the smells, color, the unique foods, and mostly the people. Another beautiful day in Provence!
In the year Debby has lived in Uzes she’s managed to meet a lot of people so every few feet we meet someone she knows. All French and some with very little English, but she manages with a little vocabulary and a lot of gestures. Like the cheese man, Claude, with few words and lots of gestures, he seems to understand she wants a small piece of this or that and wants to try anything that’s special that day. He packs up her goods and she hands him her change purse (apparently he always needs change), he takes what she owes him and off we go.
She’s met these people because she isn’t afraid to talk to strangers, its a gift and really the only way to meet people when you’re a stranger to an area.
Debby lived last in North Carolina and retired from an IBM sales and marketing job 2 years ago. She fell in love with Uzes when traveling in France, went home, sold everything and moved here. She loves it and after seeing her apartment later in the day I know why – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
After shopping and visiting with friends we’re hungry and head to her favorite restaurant, however its completely full and we’re told to return in an hour. It’s Saturday in France and no one eats and runs, especially on a beautiful day. You linger, chat with friends, watch the people going by — and wait for your food, then your check, because no one is in a hurry. The French don’t know the concept of table turnover and I love it. When we returned an hour later there were still no available tables so we got a Pac a L’eau – a lemon drink that’s chased with water and ice (Non-alchoholic and really refreshing) and waited. We weren’t in a hurry and chatted contentedly until a table was free. Finally at a table, we waited first to get the waiter’s attention to order, then to get the food, then to pay the check. However we started chatting with a fun couple at the next table who spoke fairly good English. Valerie told us she’s originally from Belgium and Jerome is French. They own a farm outside town and have some unique Icelandic horses and provencal donkeys. Debby, ever curious, made plans to visit the farm soon and take pictures for a story on her blog. Valerie and Jerome were great fun to talk to and the time went by fast.
After walking off lunch we head over to Debby’s apartment. Over lunch she said she lived in a tower and had a view of the Duchy of Uzes, there is still a Duke and Duchess and they live in the castle in the center of town. Debby said she could see the flag on top of the tower indicating when the Duke and Duchess were in residence. I didn’t realize she is right next door to the castle with the most beautiful views, a stone’s through from everything – and quiet!
It’s clear that Debby is there to stay awhile. She’s taken great pains to make her apartment beautiful and comfortable, collecting just the right pieces to accentuate, and not hide, the beautiful stone walls and beams. However she also wants to go home for holidays and special occasions and fulfill some travel dreams as well. She’s rented the apartment for the winter and is now feeling a little regret because she’ll miss it. However – she’s off to Nepal for three weeks then back to the states to be with family for the holidays, then back to Provence for the summer. Not bad!
All in all it was a great day and I’m so glad I met Debby. Now to bed to get ready for another adventure tomorrow. On to Isle sur la Sorgue! Bon nuit!