Two Weeks in Provence - In and Around St Remy

14 October 2005

We’re back from our motorbike trip to the South of France – with lots of dead bugs on our helmets, really sore bottoms (having a bony bottom doesn’t help) and some extra weight – due to the abundance of good food!

We’ve been to most places in Europe by motorbike and this time we managed to ride (I’m the pillion by the way) about 1,200km in one day from Suffolk to Provence, it took more than 15 hours! We know it’s a shame not to stop at places on the way as that’s one of the best things about driving around – stopping at pretty little villages, finding scenic view points that you never find in the guidebooks – but this time we didn’t really want to wear our bike gear every day (at least for me, just wearing it is hard work) and so decided to get it over with in one go.
 


 

 

 

 

The weather was lovely throughout our stay and we really had a good time there – our generous neighbour friends Neil and Cheryl let us use their gorgeous house in St Remy de Provence – a lovely little town at the foot of the rocky Alpilles (small Alps). Although their place was a little too big just for the two of us (!) it was really lovely and I especially liked the kitchen as you may guess. Cheryl is a great cook and she has taken some of her vast collection of cookery books from the UK down there – which made me even happier during the stay.
 


 

 

 

As well as the beautiful scenery, needless to say we enjoyed wonderful food. You only find things that are in season so we missed the famous Cavaillon melons! We had quite a lot of fish/seafood this time, though – the local fishmonger in the town has a really good selection, but even the supermarkets have good fish (which never happens in the UK!) We visited some markets in Provence and also in Barcelona where we took a short trip to while we were there, it just reminded me of Japanese fish markets where you find loads of different types of prawns, crabs, clams, squid, octopus, sea urchins etc etc (homesick again). So we didn’t eat out much, I was just happy to get some fresh ingredients from the markets, try some of the recipes from Cheryl’s Provencale cookbooks and enjoy them in their lovely garden! By the way I’ve never had so many fresh wild mushrooms (especially ceps) at once, I was definitely very happy :)
 


 

 

 

On the sweet side, the chocolatier Joel Durand is a must visit in St Remy. I’m not normally a big fan of truffles, but I really liked the subtleness of their flavours. They have a good selection of preserves too, and I was impressed by the numerous flavours of cocoa powder, they all sounded so tempting! Oh, and if you fancy cheap local wine, bring your own bottle (or whatever you have in hand) to the wine shops and they will fill it up for you from the gigantic vats. They all cost less than 2 euros per litre and they weren’t bad either!
 


 

Fishmonger in St Remy


Antique shop in a pretty little square – we saw this dog every time we passed there


Lovely tea shop on bd Mirabeau

The picturesque village of Les Baux is situated just 10 minutes drive from St Remy – it’s up in Les Alpilles and it looks spectacular when seen from the neighbouring mountains. It’s obviously quite a touristic place, but it doesn’t feel that way as much as it could (if you know what I mean) and worth visiting.
 


 

 

 

 

 

I was going to write about this trip in one post, but realised I couldn’t possibly, I’ve taken too many pictures! So bear with me for maybe a couple more posts about it – more photos of Provence and Barcelona coming up.
 

        37 comments    Permalink

  • Beautiful photos as usual, the places look amazing! Looks like you guys had a great time :) Welcome back!

    Posted by mel | 14 October 2005 #
  • goodness, that bad boy looks like it’s more than capable of going faster than 80km/hour. i suspect that one of the reasons for the epic sojourn was that (like many motorcyclists) "it’s the journey, not the destination"....? although in this case, the destination is so sublime. it looks like you had a wonderful time! i’m looking forward to upcoming posts.

    Posted by santos. | 14 October 2005 #
  • I’m looking forward to see the other photos... This are absolutely wonderful, as the rest of your site. Implecable, fresh and original. My sincere compliments.

    Posted by Marcela | 14 October 2005 #
  • Your pictures are stunning. It sounds like a wonderful trip, and what an exciting way to travel! Im glad you had a great trip, Im looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful photos.

    Posted by michele | 14 October 2005 #
  • welcome back! wow, the photos you took are just wonderful, and looking forward to more. you definitely do provence justice (unlike me!)... :)

    Posted by Lil | 14 October 2005 #
  • Again - wonderfully atmospheric photos! I’m very much looking forward to the next batch of photos and impressions!

    Posted by Pille | 14 October 2005 #
  • Nice pictures! Glad you had a great time and i’m looking forward to your new posts.

    Greetings

    Shanna

    Posted by Shanna | 14 October 2005 #
  • waw waw waw! wonderful photos!

    Posted by dilek | 14 October 2005 #
  • I’m been anxious to read this post!

    I have many favorite photos from your trip, the open door, and the rose garlic braid (Lautrec garlic??)

    Did you cook while there? I also love the table shot with the Rose’ wine!

    Looks like you had a lovely time. I’m glad you are back!

    Melissa

    Posted by Melissa | 14 October 2005 #
  • Oh My... What wonderful photos! Welcome bacck!!

    Posted by megwoo | 14 October 2005 #
  • Wonderful photos Keiko. Sounds like my kinda holiday. Not the bike bit though! I’ll take the train.

    Posted by Barbara | 15 October 2005 #
  • Stunning photos, Keiko. Welcome back.

    Posted by Nic | 15 October 2005 #
  • Your pictures are simply wonderful!

    Posted by perrine | 15 October 2005 #
  • Keiko,

    Oh dear, 15hrs on bike with no rest stops? That’s no easy feat!!!

    You’re almost doing a Le Mans Endurance race hehehehe ..

    I was thinking it’s more comfortable with 4 short rest stops with average travelling speed of 110km/h (hope that’s legal speed)

    Was that MZ Motorbike both of you were riding on?.

    I can’t wait to read about the rest of your travelogue and beautiful photos.

    p.s: finally managed to rig up my blog.(http://slurplog.blogspot.com) & still trying to figures some other portion. Would love add your link to my blog-list (hmm ... once I figure how-to-do), hope you don’t mind. :)

    Posted by slurp! | 15 October 2005 #
  • Okaerinasai~~~keiko-san!! I have been looking forward to your return. I’m really happy you enjoyed your trip around Provence, one of my longing places.

    The photos are reaaaally beautiful!!The third from the bottom...what is it? It is very conspicuous! The photos of tools atract me very much!

    Posted by akane(@rgb--nanairo-nianco) | 16 October 2005 #
  • I’m happy you enjoyed the south of france (it’s where i live!!!). I love st Remy en Provence, it’s such a nice place.

    Your pix are stunning (no need to say that actually).

    Love

    Fanny

    Posted by fanny | 16 October 2005 #
  • Hey Keiko - glad to see you had a nice time in France. The photos are beautiful as always, and those street scenes sure bring back memories of my trip. Can’t wait to see the rest.

    Posted by Arthur | 16 October 2005 #
  • What beautiful pictures Keiko. Glad you had a lovely holiday.

    Posted by babe_kl | 17 October 2005 #
  • waaaaaaaaaaaa great citytrips, very nice composition and atmosphere on all of this shots.

    S.

    Posted by Sakana | 17 October 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    such wonderful pictures! You make me wanna pack and fly to France tomorrow! May i ask what camera you are using pls? Cheers!

    Posted by skrat | 17 October 2005 #
  • Keiko-san

    O KAERI NASA-I.

    So Beautiful picures! Did you get something special from this trip?

    (Or for your birthday present?)

    Look forward to more pictures!

    Posted by Sagami | 17 October 2005 #
  • OK, I have to ask. What camera are you using for those amazing pictures? I want to think, in the worst way, that it must be the camera but I have a feeling that the art is your vision.The camera has to help some though!

    R,camera shopping

    Posted by rosemary | 17 October 2005 #
  • Welcome back Keiko! Your pictures are lovely - i feel the place you visited thru them. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by steffles | 17 October 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, I’m glad to hear you had such a lovely time! It feels good to get away from the UK now and then, doesn’t it? ;) Your pictures are so beautiful, looking at them brings back memories of France and sunshine and good food... Can’t wait to see more!

    Posted by melissa | 17 October 2005 #
  • Hi Keilo,

    Looks like you had a marvelous trip too! I really like the photo with the jars coming out of the walls? When I return to Europe I’ll have to venture south of Paris!

    Posted by Anita | 17 October 2005 #
  • hi keiko, what an exquisite pictorial travelogue...really glad to hear you had such a wonderful time; your friend’s home looks and sounds positively dreamy...it must have been wonderful having access to all that lovely produce and getting the opportunity to cook with it...

    Posted by Joycelyn | 18 October 2005 #
  • Whoo hooo!! You’re back! Keiko, seeing those pics only served to remind me once again how lovely Provence is. It made ME homesick to hear about the fresh fish! You wrote: "where you find loads of different types of prawns, crabs, clams, squid, octopus, sea urchins etc etc"... just a couple of weeks ago I came across fresh sea urchins and was so tempted to buy them, but being that they were at a large supermarket and not a fishmonger (by the sea), I wasn’t sure if the quality and freshness could be trusted.

    Anyway, regarding your comment about "how to leave comments on each post"... I prefer not to have commennts on each post because I just DO NOT have the time to reply to each and every one that visits the blog. I’d much rather reply on the site of the commenter, that way I can see which updates they’ve made. Also, making the transition to a new home is beginning to be a grind... there’s more to it than simply putting things into a box. I think you can probably guess how crazy it is right now!

    Posted by rowena | 18 October 2005 #
  • お帰りなさい!

    こんな街でゆっくりしたい!!

    マッシュルーム料理とか魚料理とか

    けいこさんのお料理も見たいな~

    Posted by mariko | 18 October 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, welcome back!

    How I wish we have decent seafood supply in England, even the fishing towns here do not have as many varieties as we have in Asia.....

    I also don’t see eye to eye with the British standard of ’fresh’ seafood....

    Posted by Rabbit | 18 October 2005 #
  • Eagerly awaiting part 2 : )

    Posted by emi | 18 October 2005 #
  • Glad you enjoyed your trip and welcome back! :)

    My family loves travelling long distances as well. We love going in the back roads and getting lost then discovering little gems of places and villages, etc.

    Beautiful pictures you have there...

    Posted by celiaK | 19 October 2005 #
  • I suppose there are strict laws against drink and motorcycling in Europe.

    But where we live there’s no rules. So we would put beer cans into a wet sock and hang it from the handlebar of the bike on long rides. The wind and evaporation chills the beer can to a certain degree of perfection! Great for quenching thirsts in the long ride across the african savannahs..

    Posted by tangawizi | 19 October 2005 #
  • Hi there, thank you so much for all your kind notes!

    Santos - you mean 180km/hour? :) we did about 140km/hour on the motorway (the speed limit on French motorway is 130km/hour), I hope we could stop more next time...

    Lil - we almost bumped into each other as we were in Marseille when you were there! Maybe you saw a scruffy looking British & Japanese combi somewhere... Your photos are all wonderful!

    Melissa - yes, I cooked almost every day and the Rose was pretty good!

    Barbara - well, to be honest I’m getting a bit too old for riding a motorbike...

    Slurp - *of course* we had breaks :) My super bony bottom can only take one and a half hours at the most! Matthew bought me a special ’pad’, it really helps though. The French motorway is very good, they are toll roads but worth paying (and not as scary as the autobahn in Germany!) Matthew’s currrent bike is Aprilia Falco, I quite like the design - not too sporty, not too touring. What kind of bike do you ride? Have you been everywhere? ;) I hope you have more time to enjoy riding. Your blog looks great by the way, look forward to the upcoming posts!

    Akane-san - Tadaimadesu! We saw those bottles on a panel in front of a perfume shop, so I assume they were used to make them (but I might be wrong...)

    Fanny - I’m jealous you have so much gorgeous produce around, I’ll let you know next time we go there!

    Arthur - we actually tried the bistrot in St Remy, but it wasn’t as good as we expected so I didn’t write about it, although I’m sure I just chose something I shouldn’t have done... Did you see the little dog too by the way?

    Skrat, Rosemary - I just got a Canon 350D, it’s small and just the right size for me!

    Sagami-san - I’m sorry I haven’t updated the J version for so long! As you might guess, you can hardly carry anything when you take the bike - all I could carry was a pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts! Hope you have a wonderful birthday too...

    Melissa - it’s getting cold and I need my cat to warm me up! Did you live in France? I *must* learn French, it’s really frustrating when I can’t speak the language when travelling.

    Anita - looking forward to hearing all about your travels!

    Joycelyn - since I came to the UK, I realised that I was taking for granted being in Japan where you can get literally *everything*...

    Rowena - I assume that supermarkets in Italy are as good as France, but I know what you mean - if you really know good fish/seafood (which I’m sure we both do!), you don’t want to take your chances... Hope everything is going well, looking forward to seeing your gorgeous kitchen ;) Take care and send love to Maddie.

    まりこさん - 上の写真の食卓に写ってるのが私が作った手抜き料理です(笑)

    美味しいものいっぱい食べて、ますますホームシックになっちゃいました…。

    Rabbit - I didn’t know you live in the UK too, I’m sure we feel *exactly* the same way...

    Celia - I’m totally with you :)

    Tangawizi - do you mind if I ask where you live? Africa is one of the places I’d definitely love to go to, I can almost feel the wind from your description (did you watch Motorcycle Diaries by the way?) it all sounds fantastic! I’m not sure about the rest of Europe, but in the UK you’re allowed to drink even before you drive (up to 2 pints or something) - I’m not going to argue if it’s a good thing or not, though...

    Posted by keiko | 20 October 2005 #
  • Kenya. A great place for off-road motorcycle. Despite the potholes, once you go off-road, it’s blazing freedom with juz the acacia trees, the occasional dik-diks and tailwinds. If u ever get here, I’ll connect you with the off-roaders! ;)

    Posted by tangawizi | 24 October 2005 #
  • Hi Tangawizi - thanks for writing back, yes, Kenya is definitely a place I’d love to visit :) I’d love to watch the wild animals there... I’ll let you know when I have a chance to go there!

    Posted by keiko | 31 October 2005 #
  • Wow, Provence is a place that i must go. Those cottage-like houses, lavender farm and also L’occitane. What a nice place.

    Posted by syuk yee | 10 October 2006 #
  • Hi Syuk Yee – I’m looking forward to visiting again too :)

    Posted by keiko | 13 January 2007 #
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