Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A First for May?

Time seems to be galloping along with all of the fervour of the horses participating in the Fête des Gardians. I keep shaking my head in disbelief that we are at the beginning of Month Five of 2012 but here we are with a holiday to prove it. I try not to repeat myself (even if I don't always succeed!) so I will let my newer readers take a look at my previous entry about this holiday if they feel so inclined: May day! May Day!

What makes this years event so special is that it is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Gardians, our French cowboys. Five hundred years! Yes, at times I can understand the comments about America being such a "young country."

For the first time, the morning mass to bless the riders and their horses was held inside the Roman Arena. Such a strange mix of sacred and profane slightly boggles my mind but so be it.

As the Arena's ancient stone stairways are steep, all of the recent mother's were forced to stay outside the gates and push their antique prams patiently in the strengthening sun. Tiny faces peeped out from underneath crocheted caps and lacy bonnets.

As always, I delighted in the swish of the women's skirts. The art of the Female Female. 

The surrounding streets were filled with weaving and wandering visitors. Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Italian bumped up against over the French voices. While the First of May is a national holiday in support of worker's rights, it is also the beginning of the high tourist season. 

The Place du Forum was already filling rapidly as I descended the hill with Ben. As with every festive occasion here, several paella's bubbled in massive iron pots around the square. But for us I wanted something as gentle as the Lilies of the Valley that are the token flower of the day and so whipped together an eggy mess to make a wild smoked salmon and asparagus quiche. I hovered over it after I pulled it out of the oven in its pre-de-puffed state, inhaling deeply. Patience is not my strong point, non.

And yet I haven't been able to relax into this festive day completely. There is an unexpressed tension in the air about the presidential elections that will take place this coming Sunday. We have already been through a wearing first round that resulted in an alarming support (18%) for the extreme right Front National party with Arles coming in at 25% and nearby Saint-Gilles at 45%, the highest in the nation. While I have long appreciated the long-standing traditions that are held so dearly in the region, I hope with all of my heart that this election will take a turn and move swiftly towards the future. That this pleasant First of May can be a harbinger of hope to come.


  1. Hello Heather

    What a beautiful day and thank you for sharing your images with us. I would prefer your quiche to the paella - it looks so comforting.

    I join you in wishing for a positive future for France.

    Helen xx

  2. I DID IT!I got the video to play and I saw BEN do his FOODIE DANCE but what took my breath away was your voice!OH< my it was glorious.........dont know what I thought you sounded like but that voice is BELLISIMA!!!!!!!!!!!I was much more in awe over that and had to remind myself to watch BEN!So fun to think we have never met and yet be so close.I too noticed a new surge of people commenting!I keep sharing YOU with my groupies,but for some unknown reason it takes people awhile to catch on!Ben is gorgeous thanks for sharing!xoxox

  3. The quiche looks sensational. yum, yum, yum.

    What an extraordinary custom with the young mothers. The mind truly boggles. Images, as ever, are incredibly sharp and take us right there with you.

    And we watch with interest how the elections will pan out. x

  4. Oh my, that quiche looks amazing. I can almost smell it from here.

    I know well your concern about the elections. Things are pretty darn scary on this side of "the pond" as well.

  5. Heather,
    LOVE this post and pictures of the mothers in their dresses and prams with their
    sweet babies.

  6. Heather, me again..I subscribe to several blogs--maybe 15-20? I always save your's for the last...The best for last!

  7. Now tell us do you get dressed up in a gown for the first of May? I think you would look great in one with your gorgeous red hair. I have Lily-of-the-valley, an acre, if you and Ben have the time. I'll cut some flowers tomorrow just for you! Your quiche looks fabulous!


  8. Ah,.... May in France...a series of long weekends celebrated like no other country!

  9. I love quiche and yours is so beautiful! I suppose the nearest thing we have to May Day in the U.S. is Labor Day, which isn't celebrated nearly as elegantly as May Day is in France. Love those costumes.

  10. Can I just say that I think you are all so wonderful?! How lovely for me to find all of these kind and interesting compliments and thoughts this morning. I know how lucky I am that you are all here!!

    Sally, I so appreciate that, you have always been so supportive, thank you!
    Debra, you would have LOVED all of the silk and taffeta on display, mostly new but some antique as well. An acre of lily of the valley? How I would love to see that!
    And Contessa, you silly goose, going on about my voice!

    Thank you again everyone! :)

  11. Hello Heather:
    For some reason our comment seems to have been swallowed whole by Blogger, so we have made a reappearance!!

    We do so love the fact that old traditions are kept well and truly alive in Arles. The women in all their finery look wonderfully elegant and the prams remind us of early childhoods spent being pushed around in 'Silver Cross' chariots [the Rolls Royce of perambulators].So much more stylish than the 'buggies' but not in the least bit practical!!!

    And, as for the delicious looking quiche. Could you save a slice or two and we shall be over shortly?!!!

    1. Bah, I don't understand things at all! I saw your comment yesterday but was running around too much to respond immediately (bad form, I know!) and then poof! It is gone. So thank you for making the effort to send again, you know how much comments such as yours makes one happy! :)

      Alas, we finished the quiche today!! Piggy, piggy. However, I would be all too happy to make one for you (or whatever dish you would like) if you ever do decide to pop over for a bite. It's a promise.

  12. I'm with Debra - I want to know if you dress up as well!! What a charming holiday. And your quiche looks delectable!! Bad time to read this post - I'm starving!!

    1. Oh you two are so silly! I haven't worn dresses like that since I was in the thee-ah-tah. :) They are lovely though. And Stacey, if my post made you hungry, just think what it is like for me to see YOUR posts first thing every morning--they make me want to redecorate the whole house!

  13. I have enjoyed your post and blog, very lovely indeed. Provance must be a dream location to live...
    And it made me hungry too(: just perfect! As I cook every day, one needs inspiration...
    hugs Z

    1. Thanks Z! Yep, I hear you. I cook every day too so I am so happy to have an idea, any idea for something new or different. And yes, I am not complaining about living in Provence. :)

  14. I love your post!!!



  15. Australia is a very young country. I still remember my very first time in Europe, how amazed by the history-steeped architecture I was. I mean, I expected it of course, but to actually see it with my own two eyes was a whole other thing. I fell in love.

    ~ Clare x


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