A Slow, Summer Sunday in Provence

To say that the last week has been hot, is an understatement. We’ve been in the midst of a heatwave, a ‘canicule’, where the temperatures have been consistently in the high 30s and the nights have been almost too sticky and sultry to sleep.

Blue skies and hot days

The only thing you can do, is get chores done first thing in the morning (before the sun really rises) and last thing at night, (after it has set), keeping the shutters closed during the day, to keep the house cooler. There’s certainly no lie-ins and I’ve had to be out early for a bike ride, although even then, being out much after 10am is quite uncomfortable.

Early starts give great opportunities for more second breakfasts

I honestly don’t know how the cyclists in this year’s Tour de France have managed to cope, although they have given me an excuse to sit in our little pop-up spa (unheated and still 34 degrees), with an ice lolly, watching them put in the hard yards. And if I’m honest, It has proved to be the perfect way to pass the hot afternoons.

Tour De France viewing in the Canicule

Today though, I fancied a morning off the bike and as I remembered seeing signs advertising a Vide Grenier, in the pretty village of Castellet, on one of my rides during the week, I thought I would head up there first thing, before pottering over to Reillanne, just the far side of Cereste for an amble around its lovely Sunday morning market.

I suppose on Sundays, we’re spoiled for choice, with the farmer’s market at Coustellet, the fabulous general market and brocante at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue and also the vast brocante at Carpentras, all within a relatively short drive. But, in the height of the season, they can feel hectic and too busy and I just couldn’t face that, especially in the high summer temperatures being predicted again for today, so a slow Sunday pottering into the Alpes De Haute Provence, seemed like a really good option.

A vide grenier is a great chance to explore a village

I must admit that I love the local, village vide greniers, when people literally set up a stall outside their front doors, or even in their garden, selling off unwanted items. They really are great hunting grounds for bits for the house and over the years, so many pieces have found their way home with us ….. most recently, this rather lovely watercolour of Sospel, from the Fete Nationale event at Saint Saturnin.

this had to come home

Not only are they good for fuddling around the stalls, but they also give you the ideal opportunity to explore local villages, snuffling down side streets and occasionally even having the chance to go into some of the houses too, where people just set up stalls in the cool of their hallways or garages.

A shady, cool spot for a stall

This morning, Castellet was already bustling, when I arrived just after 8 (with 2 loads of washing and some cleaning done, before I left). It’s a beautiful little place, with spectacular views along the Luberon valley, towards Saint Martin De Castillon and in the winter, you can see the distant low Alps, sparkling with snow.

It’s one of my favourite, local vide grenier events, always having a nice mix of household stalls and more professional brocanteurs, although there were fewer of those today, as there are brocante markets at nearby Menerbes, Saint Saturnin Les Apt and Lourmarin too.

But it always has great character and a nice atmosphere, with the stalls spread out through the heart of the old village…

So much to browse through

Around the little church….

The perfect setting

With scarecrows happily pointing the way, to make sure that you don’t miss any of the stalls that are a little more off the beaten track…

More stalls this way

I must admit that I fell hook, line and sinker for another painting today, but at 950e, that was a little way beyond my budget…

Sadly too rich for my purse

Whereas I could have been tempted by a few of the pieces on this stall, all rather elegantly set-off by the crystal chandelier hanging from a tree, wondering what else we may be able to fit on the terrace…

Outdoor elegance

I managed to resist the temptation to buy a couple of old 2CV doors (only 20e each)

Very tempting

And finally found a Golden Retriever that is even more horizontal than Millie, with only its eyebrows moving as anyone passed by….

Millie aspires to this level of activity!

In the end, I just bought some more vintage glasses to add to our eclectic collection of wine-tumblers, before heading on to Reillanne for coffee and a potter around the stalls…

Reillanne is a very pretty little place, just beyond Cereste, with a traditional, open market square, that is packed with the bright awnings, protecting the stalls from the sun, creating a sea of colour below the road

The colourful awnings below the toad

The lovely old church dominates the village, with the remains of the old castle wall too and I was happy to sit with a coffee, munching on a pain au chocolat, at the Cafe Du Cours, listening as the bells chimed the hour and watching the bustle in the square below, finally dragging myself away, after mulling over whether to have a second coffee …. it was one of those mornings…

Second breakfast at the Cafe Du Cours

The market itself is a delightful mix of stalls, with everything you could want and a real focus on local producers and artisans too….

Bustling, but not too busy

It has a delightful bustle and babble of voices, with local honey-producers….

So many different, scented honeys


Fun leather belts and some lovely bags

Fruit and veg stalls …..

Sun-warmed tomatoes

And an excellent artisan coffee roaster, whose coffees are great and was clearly doing a roaring trade today too, with lots of customers, sitting in the shade of his green awnings, enjoying today’s roast….

Artisan Coffee doing a roaring trade

It’s such a great, thriving local market, without the chaotic busy-ness of some of the bigger events that take place in the valley and it’s the perfect place to sit and watch the world pass by on a hot Sunday morning, taking the chance to fill a basket with local produce too….

After a while, with a basket weighing heavily on my shoulder, filled with peaches and apricots, local tomatoes, honey, homemade pizza and specialist breads too, I made my way back to the car and bimbled home, almost distracted by the thought of a cooling drink in the shade at the Café du Cours again…

So tempting to stop for an Orangina

It goes without saying, that being a mid-summer weekend, there are a lot of other events on around us this afternoon, from the honey fair at Goult and the lavender festival in Banon, to the Festival at Viens, but I think I’ve had enough excitement for one day….. and an afternoon of putting my feet up, watching the first day of the Tour De France Femmes beckons…..

Roll out on a historic day for women’s cycling

Ridiculously, I’m feeling slightly emotional watching the roll-out of the first day of this iconic event…. There are so many women cycling now (me and many friends included) and to be able to watch the women racing on the Champs Elysee, with a full week of stages ahead is such a delight. It’s hard to believe that it’s taken so long for this to actually happen. So this afternoon, you’ll find me in the shade, glued to the coverage of both the Tour De France Femmes and the final stage of the men’s race too …..

What a joyful, simple day ….

Allez Les Femmes

2 thoughts on “A Slow, Summer Sunday in Provence

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