Belle Provence Travels

A South of France Blog

Enjoying an ice cream at the port of Sanary-sur-Mer.

Hello dear readers and friends. Well it’s been an incredible couple of months, hasn’t it… If you’re taking the time to read this post, thank you for hanging in there with me and continuing to follow this blog.

Where to start?

First, I hope you are all healthy and doing as best as you can during this time of crisis. It’s hit us all in different ways… at different times.
We’re doing a lot better in France. Local shops have reopened, public transport is running, and even many of the open-air Provençal markets are open… with socially-distanced measures in place.

Spring blossoms on our apricot tree.

As for us, we were really lucky. Apart from being in a region that was not as heavily impacted, we benefitted from all of the social services which make living in France so great… in my humble opinion, of course. I was able to stay at home and take care of our daughter while still receiving my full salary from work. I thought just keeping my job was a plus, this was something I would have never imagined.

Poppies near our home… one of our many walks around the neighborhood.

Of course, mistakes were made in the handling of the crisis, as with other countries, but overall, the government’s measures were swift and straightforward with a consistent message – which I really appreciated. Nor did everyone follow the rules to the letter… but it went far better than it could have – and we still managed to have toilet paper 😊

I’m back to work part-time, and with summer-like weather coming knocking at our door, it’s been great to get out to some of our favorite beach towns like Sanary-sur-Mer. Something as simple as sharing an ice cream along the port and picking up some pastries at our favorite bakery seems like the coolest thing on the planet at the moment.

Hanging around… some days were longer than others.

Apart from that, the last two months were spent playing about 274 board games (Monopoly Junior is a thing here), cooking about 725 meals (I made empanadas for the first time, my crowning glory of confinement), and discovering I could make margaritas from the lemons in our side yard (good ones too, surprisingly).

Apparently these are Meyers lemons… because they make dang good margaritas.

We’re definitely not out of the woods yet, but things are looking better and hoping they are for you too, in your corner of the world.

Wishing you a very bon week-end and I hope you enjoy these few photos from our last few months at home.

Merci beaucoup.

11 thoughts on “Hello, again, from Provence

  1. Mary Lindenatein says:

    Would love your recipe for the Meyer lemon margaritas!! Merci!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Sure, Mary! My husband suggested trying with the lemons… I was really skeptical, but found them just as tasty as with the limes we had bought – really little difference! Here you go:

      Ice cubes
      2 oz. tequila
      1 and 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or limes of course)
      1/2 oz. simple syrup (you can also make your own – few tablespoons of sugar + hot water)
      1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (most people use Triple Sec, I believe).

      Mix all of the ingredients together and pour over ice – add salt to the rim before if you like. I wasn’t too accurate with the measurements, and they still came out just fine.

      Orignal recipe credit: https://thecookful.com/best-margarita-recipe/

      Thank you for your comment & enjoy!

      Like

  2. Debra Steele says:

    Hello, Tuula,

    I’m so happy to receive your mail today. I have thought of you during this time and am happy to hear that you’ve done well. You’re pictures are beautiful. I think the photo of your daughter speaks volumes of the general feeling so many have experienced. I love Meyer’s lemons and poppies. I’ve painted a few poppies lately.

    Abe and I consider ourselves among the fortunate. We have not suffered in any physical way but have only been frustrated by the measures taken here in SoCal. We all have our own ideas on this whole thing.

    I’ve continued to learn French on Duolingo, have done some Urban Sketching and have spent many hours reading.

    I’m happy that you have kept your job. Your cooking and drinks sound yummy! And oh, the games!!!

    Our plans for a re-location to France have been put on hold. We will see how things go.
    Best wishes for a complete re-opening in your area and a speedy recovery for your economy and the well-being of all.

    Kind regards,
    Debra and Abraham

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Hello Debra and Abraham,

      It’s so nice to hear from you! I thought of you guys throughout all of this too… & all of the people who were planning to move to France – such a shame that all of those dreams have been put on hold!

      But the bright side is that, as you mentioned, we’re doing a lot better here and we can see a nicer future on the horizon. I hope that will benefit you two as well!

      I’m not sure if I had talked about it with you before or not, but my family lives in Ventura, CA so I’ve been watching what’s been going on in SoCal as well… like you said, we all have our own ideas during this time… Happy that there were not too many cases in Ventura County and so glad to hear that both of you are safe and healthy.

      I feel the same way, we have been very lucky!

      Your painting sounds absolutely lovely and please keep me updated on how the French lessons are going – it’s so nice to have something to keep us active & engaged during this period. My new recipes keep me going for sure 🙂

      Best wishes to both of you and hoping that everything will work out for the best! If you need any help with anything, please done hesitate to ask!

      Bonne journée,
      Tuula

      Like

  3. M.J. Gibbs says:

    Hi Tuula
    Glad things are picking up in France and love the sleeping sloth hanging on the tree. Enjoy any special moments outdoors as you face the warmer months. Here, in Mapleton it’s cold and windy today, the start of Winter. Love Marg

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Bonjour Marg,

      Thank you for your sweet comment, merci! I’ve been watching the news from your corner of the world, hope you and your family are doing well… and that all of those grand babies are thriving! So enjoy your blog posts and hearing what’s going on in your life… brings a little ray of sunshine across the miles.

      Hope you have a lovely day, bon dimanche from the south of France.
      Tuula

      Like

  4. M.J. Gibbs says:

    Tuula, let’s be penpals across the seas. I would love that! We both write blogs, I’m on Instagram ( Marg_Gibbs with pink camellia) and we share a love of travel, food, markets and beauty. I read your reply to Bill this morning as he cooked himself a steak and eggs. Those lemons look healthy!! Love Marg x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Hi Marg, that’s a fantastic idea. I would love that too! Would you like to send me your address at: tuularampont@gmail.com ? I could get a card out this week 😊 Let me know what you think! A big hello, bonjour, to Bill as well… I remember fondly the stories of your adventures in Provence 🌻! Will look for you on Instagram, bonne journée, Tuula

      Like

  5. Hi Tuula. Happy to hear that you and your family have navigated your way through this pandemic in apparently reasonably good shape. That is such a cute picture of your daughter? How old is she? had to be a huge relief to keep your job and get paid. Ventura County has done well so far, I wonder how they will fare as they open up and there is less social distancing and face masks are not consistently worn.

    Here in Northern CA in Sonoma County, we have been relatively OK too, but the cases continue to climb as we open up and do more testing. I am nervous every time Shirley goes off to work at the hospital and whether or not she will get infected at work. Thankfully, they have PPE and they are not supposed to have any COVID19 patients on their unit. However, last week, an older woman came in for a non-COVID19 procedure, dressed in PPE (facemask and face shield) and wearing gloves because she was scared she was going to get infected in the hospital. She was Shirley’s patient and since everyone coming to the hospital is now tested, Shirley administered the test, a short time later they called to tell her the lady was asymptomatic positive, so they hustled her to the COVID19 unit. Those kind of things freak me out. I have been working from home and spend most days on conference calls and telephone calls with our senior care communities and answering emails. I have done a lot of cooking in the evening and we have enjoyed a lot of wine. Not too many games with our grandkids and wife, but tons of puzzles. I think they have bought out every store in the area

    We have been quarantined with our daughter, also a nurse and her husband, a high school teacher and their three kids, 11, 9, and 5. That has certainly made the time pass by. They have lived with us since the fires in Sonoma County in 2017. They just bought a house and will be moving out some time after they close on June 7. It will be sad not to have little ones come jump in bed in the morning. They will be close by, so we will see them often, but it won’t be the same.

    We were supposed to come to Sablet in March but that got cancelled, we have now cancelled July as well. We still have our tickets for October, but not certain the French borders will be open to non-Europeans even by then. We sure hope so. It is killing us not to not be able to go. We did a lot of work on our house this winter, painting interior doors and window frames, installed air conditioning and converted a room to a laundry room. So as you can imagine, we are anxious to get there.

    We are so jealous of you being able to go the markets again. We miss those most of all besides our friends and cousins. I have planted quite a few raised beds and just picked my first zucchini this weekend which I turned into Courgettes Farcies a la Provencal.

    I enjoy your posts very much. I have not done much lately because of trying to stay up on everything COVID19 related as we try to keep our 750 senior residents and 950 employees healthy through this pandemic. We are not out of the woods yet by far, hopefully, we will be successful in our quest.

    Be well.

    Michel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Hello Michel,
      Bless you for your sweet message and my thoughts… and best wishes… go out to you and your family in Northern California – wow, you really are wearing many hats!

      And my sincere apologies for the late reply! It seems that just when we get a handle on things, there’s some schedule change that crops up at work our at my daughter’s school. She’ll be turning 5 next month (so nice of you to ask about her!) and she’s just finishing her 2nd year of preschool. She’s back to school twice a week and it’s doing her a world of good. As much as we tried at home, there’s something about the structure of that environment that really motivates the kids – plus, her teacher and the teaching assistant are absolutely wonderful. She’s already started correcting me on my French, it’s pretty hilarious…

      I’m so happy to hear that you and your wife are safe and healthy. That is really scary being a nurse and having to deal with this crisis at the same time – hat’s off to Shirley! And you as well… it sounds like there are so many people counting on you at this time, I’m glad you are surrounded by a lot of family support.

      I do feel a bit guilty, but it has been really great to get back out to the markets and beach towns. France is doing really well at the moment – all departments have moved into the “green”, with very few new cases. I hope this bodes well for your trip in October, would love to see you some day near our side of Provence!

      Sending you our best wishes, and thank you again for sharing your updates. We’re pulling for you in CA and for all of the US!

      Bonne journée Michel!
      Tuula

      Like

  6. We too consider ourselves very fortunate to have spent the confinement in our home in France, rather than the UK. The fresh air, nature and peace in our little village has been a great antidote to the chaos of these last few months. Stay safe and enjoy the summer.

    Like

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