Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In love with a little village


Falling in love can be so easy, can't it?

Sometimes you just know. I had a hunch from the first moment that the village of Simiane la Rotonde would be the real thing and my instinct didn't let me down. 


Patina, time pushing up against each other at odd angles and solitude. Simiane checks the boxes of more than a few of my favorite things. Remi and I eventually stopped talking as we wound our way up and around, delighting in suspended gardens and ornate gates leading to forgotten bastides.


A bird is free now to make his nest in the curlicues of a Renaissance manor but Simiane was once quite wealthy, quite populated. While 1,157 people strolled its cobble stone streets in 1753, there are 30-70 residents living in the village year-round, depending on who you ask.


The 16th century covered market hall opens out onto the lavender fields below and is a simple token of the village's more glorious past.


But touches of gentility remain...


I'll be quiet now and let you wander...




...take your time...



...because as Diana Vreeland so wisely commanded "The eye must travel"...










But what, you might ask, is that large sugar lump of stone? More of that in the next post...for there is still much to share...


When we fall in love it is hard not to be exuberant, n'est-ce pas? 

42 comments:

  1. Hello Heather:
    Oh well, you know us, we fall in love at least three times a day.....four on a really good day!!!

    And, we know immediately that we should definitely fall head over heels in love with Simiane La Rotonde at first sight. Your photographs really do capture the very soul of this truly charming place. The village wears its age with a comfortable elegance, no need for frills and fripperies here. The warmth of the stone, the flaky paint and, everywhere, the most glorious of views. It is a piece of Paradise and, like star crossed lovers, you and Remi must have been in seventh heaven.....well, we certainly hope that you were!!!

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    1. Yes, we absolutely were and I hope to share more with you why on a day when I am feeling more verbose. Today was a quiet rainy day here in Arles so I fear I did not muster up the proper enthusiasm that this wonderful place deserved!

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  2. The eye has to travel ... FEAST!

    Favorite line: 'But touches of gentility remain.'

    Favorite image: the one above the Vreeland quote.

    Heather, I would love to have you over for mole and Mexican hot chocolate -- which, if prepared correctly, is even better than an Aztec latte.

    xx

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    1. Aargh! I am short-circuiting over here at the thought of such a meeting! Zzt! Don't do that to me Suze! You with your mysterious black cat. Goodness. I could hide for days feasting on the like in such fine company. And I am sorry but I didn't quite get the words to fingers today. "Strawberry ghost" however? Well? Need I say more?
      Bisous,
      H

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    2. PS. The photo that you liked is of hmmm...how do I say this in English?...the thing that holds a shutter closed! But isn't it beautiful?

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    3. It is indeed quite beautiful. Appearing to levitate, even!

      As for the strawberry ghost, I was thinking, how do you describe that surprising faint sweetness of lips? And there you go.

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    1. Welcome, NN. I hope you will bear with me as there are many such photos to come...yikes!

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  4. I visited this village last January with the fierce Mistral at its full blown speed...and despise the wind, the freezing temperature, loved it!

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    1. Francine, so really THIS is where you went after Avignon?!? How do you even know of it? The locals said that it can dip well below zero on such days...
      Still sad we didn't meet, my fault for not knowing how to drive!

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  5. Heather,
    I am speechless! What a charming and wonderful village!
    xx
    Greet

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    1. My dear Greet, I would love for you to see all of this area the next time you are in Provence--I think that you will find it very inspiring!
      xo,
      H

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  6. Dear Heather,

    Yes....I've long loved that Vreeland quotation about the eye's needing to travel.

    In a similar vein?....

    A longtime friend of mine, who's about twenty-five years older than I am (and I'm now fifty), is a very well-known stage-director (I think I've asked if you knew him at Yale). He took an interest in me when I was 27 or so....flailing around with an eternally prolonged dissertation on Thomas Hardy (which, by that time, bored the hell out of me)when I wasn't sort of half-assedly accepting offers for at exhibits and book covers without really committing myself to switching careers....so that, in the end, I wasn't really pursuing, with any intention, either "career".

    He had dinner over at my little gradstooding apartment one evening, patiently (and he IS a very wise, experienced man-of-the-arts) listened to my frustrated mewlings, and eventually/pleasantly said goodnight.

    I came back from tiredly-teaching at Duke the next afternoon and found a box on my front stoop. It contained a large, expensive-looking, hardbound copy of "Passages" (the collected phtographs of Irving Penn, from the MOMA exhibition), a copy of Peter Beard's "In Africa", and a hardbound copy of "Sophie's Choice" (which I hadn't previously read during my all-too narrowly academic studies over four previous degrees).

    He'd included a note ( I still have it, of course) which read:

    "Thank you for dinner last night. You reminded me of several students I've had. I'll tell you what I've told them---- You're not feeding enough.

    Feast on these books, and I look forward to seeing your next show.

    your friend, ________"

    Wasn't that a lovely gesture and wise-advice for a confused and struggling 27 year old? No wonder he's been such an idolized teacher (I should emphasize that he was teaching at an entirely different university than mine, and I wasn't in the least his responsibility).

    and, yes....."The eye must travel".

    Advisedly yours as ever,

    David Terry
    www.daviterryart.com

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    1. Crappity, crap! I can't believe that I am still alive. I misquoted one of my heroes and yet somehow her ghost did not come down and smite me. Perhaps you saved me. And yes, what a fantastic, needed reminder to keep filling the well. I was telling Remi again that recently at a rather excellent show in Aix of a wonderful collection from Germany with some stunning late Picasso's (a period I love, sorry), two good De Kooning's and two absolutely stunning Richter's--that what little I know about art I learned from seeing it in NYC--I went at least once a week to either a gallery or a museum depending on my financial situation and was never bored nor lonely because those works were my friends. And more fascinating ones than many a person could be. I go back to say hello when I can.

      On a silly note, on one day when I was feeling enooormously self-confident (at that time), I passed an incredibly handsome man decked out impeccably. Somehow I managed to croak out "lovely suit" with a smile no less! I later remembered that face when I saw it in a society magazine, it was Peter Beard. No wonder he seemed surprised at the random harpie making comments! :)

      She who is happy that you write advisedly,
      H

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    2. Oh, Heather....I hope you don't worry too much....Peter's a long-renowned asshole; you're a nice person.

      ---uncle david

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  7. It looks like a place out of a fairy-tale. I cannot believe that so few people live there. Such a pity. I can see why you fell in love with it. I know I would have fallen for it too. It reminded me of one of those forgotten Italian villages in the hills of Tuscany or Umbria.

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    1. Absolutely Loree. But with something of the French romance thrown in too (not that the Italians don't have Romance! You know what I mean!!)...I so loved your last post...

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  8. Wander I did!!!!!!!!!Absolutely,perfect!I would like to wrap it all up and take it back with me!I leave tomorrow for your neck of the world!Just a tad excited!
    xoxoxo

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    1. Have a wonderful, wonderful trip my dear Contessa--so happy to hear that Bordeaux is in the works after all! If for any reason, you know I am always not so far away...

      Gros bisous,
      H

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  9. OMG you have captured it all Heather!! Just awesome - are you tempted to make this a permanent address? I so would _ Cheers keep these wonderful moments coming!!

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    1. Ah-ha! More about that soon Wyn---no, at least not yet but I will explain why...

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  10. What a place! What a history. It looks like it's been there for centuries and will be there after we are all gone. For lack of better words, I'm bowled over by it's beauty and charms. Somehow Heather, you're able to convey not only the beauty but the spirit of the place. I want to move in to one of those charming old stone houses.

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    1. Amelia, you gave me one of the best compliments that I could hope for--"l'esprit de lieu" is something that I always aim for whether I arrive or not! Hopefully, between the photos or the words...one will come close!!!
      And let me tell you, you are not the only one that would love to make a move there...

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    2. "l'esprit de lieu"...sound beautiful in French. In my opinion, you hit the nail on the head each time (for lack of better words). And you put your thoughts in writing so beautifully and well, makes me wish I can be half as good.

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  11. I can see why you fell. It's beautiful. I love how the climbing vines and flowering weeds push their way through and over the stones. Beautiful photos, comme d'hab.
    bisous,
    a

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    1. Aidan, go for a look-see the next time you visit Sara in the LPV, it is not so far at all...
      xo!

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  12. Hello Heather

    I followed your instructions and have been taking my time strolling leisurely and I even unhooked the legs of my french easel and imagined painting the subjects of beautiful
    Simiane la Rotonde. If I were to custom order a town, this would be it. I cannot wait to read more and you know I will be sneaking back again to wander the streets.
    A spectacular post Heather

    Helen xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Helen but truly I am disappointed with my photos of it and only wish that you could plant your easel to see for yourself how enchanting it is--that really is the word! And to think that you are not so far away! But I would love to see what you could do in lavender season in the area...it would be glorious!
      xo,
      h

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  13. Now I'M in love, too! What a lovely little village typique -- that covered marketplace overlooking the lavender fields made my heart skip a beat. Thank you for sharing these photos!

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    1. Ann, it truly is something special! And I know how you love the food angle--like a girl after my own heart!--the products of the region were in-sane. We missed out on one that is sold only at a small epicerie there--la biere de la chataigne! Worth going back for, non? :)

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  14. This, like your others posts, always feel like opening a gift. I love watching the first photo unwrap as the computer brings your post to life. Loved the stroll.
    xoxo
    j

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    1. That is just such a gorgeous thing to write Jackie--it is you who have given a gift!!

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  15. Gorgeous photos Thank you
    I feel the French countryside is to land, what the ocean is to water. I need to see the stones (even just pictures) as much as I need to smell the salt air.

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    1. Hmmm, that is so beautifully said and that sentiment was such a big reason for why we moved from Paris to Arles. To live amongst these old stones, every single day, is such a gift. And we also have the Rhone, which, while not at all having the force of the ocean is still a force to be reckoned with...

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  16. Lovely that you are in love... and what a perfect lover... Always there, always handsome... welcoming and friendly... You can be together when you want and escape when you need... All in all perfection, Heather... I can't wait to hear more of this budding romance... :) xv

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    1. Oooh, spoken "comme une vrai française"! I dare not type one word more...
      xo,
      H
      PS. Sauf, n'oublie pas "toujours discret"! ;)

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  17. Thank you for the tour. The images are beautiful and stir the desire even more to come to France. For those of us who haven't had the privilege yet, I appreciate your allowing me the experience through your lens. Blessings, Lisa

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa and "one day, one day"... It will make the trip all the sweeter and then you will see for your own eyes that I only am able to express the tip of the iceberg!
      And I will happily take those blessings and send them back in your direction,
      Heather

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  18. I agree with Jackie and Joel, this post was a gift. Thank you dear Heather!

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  19. How beautiful, Heather. Thank you for letting my eye travel ;-)

    ~ Clare x

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  20. SO beautiful!! What we really all imagine when you hear Provence and yet so rarely exists any more - a true treasure!

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    1. Exactly so. And Stacey, both times that we visited we were practically the only tourists! Just another walking couple and some young guests at the B & B. Amazing--and it was only the beginning of September! I want to go back in the winter when it is under the snow...
      xo,
      h

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