La famille à Pertuis

Stephanie’s paternal grandmother and other extended family members live in Pertuis, a small town north of Aix-en-Provence. We rented a car in Arles for a day and started on our way east. Thankfully Stephanie drove (she has a French driver’s license), and I assisted with navigation.

Along the way we stopped in Baux-en-Provence, a historic and scenic mountain-top village. Pretty cool, eh?

Baux-en-Provence, France

Much of the scenery as we made our way from Baux to Pertuis reminded Stephanie of home. Rows of short olive-green olive trees, white limestone hills covered with a dense, dark green vegetation (known in French as garrigue), trees planted along both sides of the road, and vineyards.

Vineyard on the way to Pertuis
Tree lined roads on the way to Pertuis

This is the route we took:

Arles to Baux to Pertuis map

We arrived in the early evening and were greeted by Stephanie’s grandmother, Mamie, and her Aunt Chantal. All of the conversation was in French, a lot of details about her grandmother’s health, and the neighbors. I tried as best I could to follow along—but that meant only catching a familiar noun or two so I could at least follow the gist of the conversation. Later Stephanie’s cousin Severine and young son Theo arrived, and we all sat down to a couscous dinner they brought from a nearby restaurant.

After eating we huddled around the table and Theo showed us “Brain Age” on his Nintendo DS, a game of mental acuity challenges (like memorizing words, doing math equations) and based on your performance, it computes the “age” of your brain. Poor performance = brain age of 80, good performance = an age of 20. I think I got in the 30s, though I had a lot of help recalling French words from a list of about 30 that I was shown for 2 minutes. It was a fun activity that cut across our language barriers.

Friday morning we had bread (whenever I say bread, think: baguette, usually artisanal Provence-style with tips at the ends), butter, jam, and tea for breakfast. It felt (to me) very French—especially the worn down wooden grate over a trivet-sized cutting surface in order to catch bread crumbs. These are people who love bread.

We got going towards Cannes around 10:30 to have lunch with Stephanie’s mom and eventually drop off the rental car. I can’t seem to get enough sleep this trip, so I dozed off as Stephanie zoomed along on the autoroute at 130km/hr.

Note: in real life, we’ll be flying home to San Francisco tomorrow (Sunday) morning. I can’t believe we’re leaving.

1 Comment

Derek

Holy smokes!! Nice pictures man! The mountain top village is something I will need to explore at some point in my life!

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