Friends often ask me, “How do you spend your day as an expat in Uzes? As you requested, here’s an example of one day this week.
I started the day with café crème and a treat, pain au chocolate, at a local cafe with friends. We were all heading for French class at l’Université Populaire. Yes, I will try French, and this time, I will succeed! My friends gingerly persuaded me that I needed to go with them — not just because I needed to speak the language, but mainly because they needed another person to sign up so they could hold the class. A little hot coffee, a tin of sweet biscuits, and a fabulous teacher — Claudine — made the lesson go much faster than I expected. And more fun!
Morning French Class and Brocante
The Université Populaire is only a few steps from my favorite brocante store, so who could resist? I stopped in and spent a few minutes looking around. Then I dropped a few euros to buy a small piece of furniture for my apartment — a carved chest. How do you like it? (photo below). It’ll be perfect for storing things in my bedroom. I’ll add a couple of square pillows for seats. I’m still trying to decide if I can live without the headboards you see below. For the guest room… hmmm.
While shopping, I saw a tapestry on a chair near the store’s front door. I immediately thought of my friends Paula and Rich. They’ve been looking for something “medieval” to decorate their apartment. I called them and suggested they come down to see the tapestry.
Lunch at the Place aux Herbes
Before discussing my day in Uzes, let me introduce you to Paula and Rich. They are friends from California that I met a couple of years ago. I’ve mentioned them in several previous posts and on Facebook. Now, they’re my apartment neighbors and “partners in crime.” They love to “go and do” as much as I do. Rich and I are taking French lessons together. Paula’s pretty proficient in her new language. I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about them in future posts.
Paula and Rich joined me at the brocante. They loved the tapestry! On the way back to the apartment, we stopped at a restaurant in the Place aux Herbes for lunch and to people-watch. A favorite pastime during tourist season.
Neighborhood Repas (Pot Luck)
Nowadays, I often take a nap in the afternoon. The temperature in the south of France is warm- in the high 80s- and it’s humid. (Compared to Atlanta? NOT!) Things are pretty much shut down in Uzes, and so am I. This day, after my nap, I had a chore to do. I had picked up some fresh pineapple, melons, and cherries from the market in front of Université Populaire, and I needed to prepare a fruit bowl to take to a neighborhood party. Everyone in our apartment building was invited for “repas”- a potluck dinner- and we met on the rooftop terrace at around 7pm.
Here’s something I’ve learned about entertaining in France. If you’re invited to someone’s home for “apero,” the hosts serve drinks and some simple food- a small bowl of nuts, chips, pretzels, and perhaps a canapé- like tapenade on a toasted crouton. Apero lasts for only an hour. Afterward, you might go together for dinner. If invited to “repas” or “apero dinatoire,” you can expect a light meal and drinks. For a neighborhood gathering, the guests bring food to share.
A dish that some of my French friends bring for repas is chilled, creamed vegetables or fruit “soup.” For our neighbor’s gathering, there were two kinds of cold soups — avocado and beetroot. Both were presented in small bowls. The avocado soup was lightly flavored with lemon, garlic, and herbs. The beetroot soup had diced beets and walnuts on top of the slightly garlic-y, creamed base and a hint of spices. They were both divine!
Oh.. by the way … never think about using beets from a can around here. It’s a travesty!
Along with our delicious food spread and good neighbors with different French and English proficiency levels, it was a clear, beautiful evening. Up above the rooftops of Uzes, we had quite a view.
I love this place!