For the record, when I enter through the pearly gates of heaven, I want all meals to be catered from the Mediterranean!
September 2019 found me pet sitting in the south of France. Spending a month in Saint (St) Tropez, my days were filled with tutoring English online, caring for 2 lovable Bulldogs, and exploring this famous seaside Mediterranean port. In my opinion, fall🍁 is the best time to visit Saint Tropez as it provides cooler weather, less tourists, and a more local feel. Needless to say, I was more excited than biting into a warm Baguette.
Can you say, Well Hello French Riviera
Place des Lices Provençal Market
One of my highlights was indulging in world renowned French cuisine. Weekly, you could find me navigating the inner sanctum of fresh foods at the “Place des Lices” open market, located right smack in the middle of this jetset coastal town. I felt so Julia Childs strolling through narrow, crowded isles that exploded all your senses, basket in hand, filled with unknown bits of gastronomy destined for discovery. Traveling solo, it was my goal to try all the cuisines and meet new people. Quickly I realized there was no way under the Riviera sun🌞 I could sample all sumptuous foods here. But, boy oh boy, I did my damnedest.
Open Tuesdays and Saturdays 7-1, here you’ll find everything a foodie swoons about - olives, spices, cheeses, work of art pastries and breads, local sausages and meats, and the most beautiful fruits and vegetables you’ve ever laid eyes on. The scent of fresh cut flowers mixed with hot Paella wafted through the air. Here, vendors are proud of their specialized ingredients, foods, and wares, while bananas look strangely out of place. Here’s a VIDEO so you can drool.
From the inner food area, this market fans out to include household items, antiques, and clothing including the iconic blue and white striped French t-shirts. Shucks, I wish I had purchased one of those as you just can’t find that unique “French Blue” anywhere else. There’s kitchen towels, Cote ď Azur soaps, and female mannequins with enormous, upward pointing nipples that would make Brigette Bardot herself blush. Guess I need to go back and get one of those!👍
Here, patient vendors tolerated my pathetic attempts at French. They would squint their eyes, and turn their ear to decipher my requests. In the end, clumsy body language of smile, point, pay, followed by an Americana tainted “Merci Beaucoup” did the trick.
Parking In Saint Tropez - The Green Demon
The hardest part of my weekly epicurean date at the Place des Lices, was figuring out the “compliquée” parking lot pay kiosk. On any given day, you would find a small crowd of people gathered around this little green demon, repeatedly inserting paper tickets, credit cards, and giving backseat driver instructions in a variety of languages. On one day, 2 Brits,1 Frenchman, and myself teamed up to appease the kiosk Gods. Alas, it worked! Or, at least I didn’t get a ticket. Funny, it’s the simple, everyday tasks that make slow travel the best way to explore our world.
Slow Travel Routines
When you slow-travel, it’s amazing how quickly you develop new routines. In St Tropez, this included selecting the perfect Classic Poulet Rôti, or roasted French Hen at a sidewalk mobile rotisserie, then finding a quiet park bench to devour a slice of Tarte Tropézienne, the most amazing, not-too-sweet cake make from Brioche Bread filled with a light orange blossom cream. It’s all in the VIDEO.
But my favorite slow-travel, also called slow-tourism routine is just that; slowing down. To learn a culture by living in it, absorbing local customs, and appreciating the people. Now, back to the market.
Did You Know:
France has over 750 protected or registered food items? Now, that’s an obsession with quality, conservation, and protecting national treasures. It’s one reason it’s perfectly normal in France, and much of Europe, to visit the local market 2 - 3 times a week. Purchasing a melon on Monday for next weekend’s brunch is considered sacrilège a nd may get you an appointment with Madam Guillotine. Instead, you proudly seek out the best-of-the-best (crème de la crème) of ingredients, maximizing the pleasure of what’s in season right now. Yep, I’z needs to get back to France. ✈
Afternoons would find me devouring ½ a roast chicken and smearing silky cheeses on warm Olive Bread, with my palette letting out repeated ‘sighs’ of tasty pleasure. Perfectly ripe peaches, figs, and berries made delicious desserts, while fresh nuts, sliced sausage and more cheese found their way to the beach where I embraced topless sunbathing; finally.😲 My evenings required, I repeat, required, a deep red wine with more bread, cured meats…you get the idea.
It’s no wonder my skin looked fabulous. I ate like a horse, yet struggled NOT to lose weight. Clean, beautiful foods. We Westerners could learn much from the French.
Why Food Matters
So, right now, you may be thinking, “Clever article Sandi, but when am I going to be in Saint Tropez?” Well, I offer this. We Westerners are known for eating a smaller variety of foods in larger quantities, while much of the world eats a wide variety of seasonal foods in small quantities. The latter form of eating is just all around healthier. We all know that eating seasonally and locally sourced foods are optimum for our health. Can I get an amen?
So, here’s my challenge to you. The next time you’re purchasing food (hopefully fresh), pick up a new, in season, fruit or veggie, or maybe a new spice or herb. What did you choose? Leave a comment. Expanding your food variety will be good preparation for when you DO visit the iconic Saint Tropez, France. You’ll be saying Bon appétit as you lift a fork of deliciousness to your mouth…again!!
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Thanks for Joining The Adventure,