Thursday, June 15, 2017

Saint Remy de Provence - sanitized history in rural France

The little boat bobbed on and shortly pitched up in Marseilles, France. The second largest city in France and the biggest commerce and freight port, the metro area is home to more than 1.8 million. Thankfully, this was not our destination on this visit but rather, the small village of Saint Remy de Provence, 30 miles or so inland, was in our future.
Saint Remy, once a walled city, is now ringed by a two lane road rendering the interior essentially vehicle free, with only residents vehicles going in and out. Less than half-a-mile across with a population of a little over 10,000, it would normally be an easy place to walk around but, we were there on market day at the tail end of the French vacation season. Busy, busy, busy.
As contemporary European markets go, this one was pretty good with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables and preserves on offer and, in less frenetic circumstances, would have afforded a pleasant toddle perusing the wares. As it was, we were pleased to escape from the thronging torrents of humanity and investigate some quieter areas of the village. In true French style, every street had been refurbished in accordance with Ministry of Culture specifications, an Orwellian compulsion born in France and spreading rapidly throughout continental Europe wherein bland conformity trumps character. Uniform cobbled streets, surface water drains running down the center, underground utilities, satellite TV antennas on every roof - a poor man's theme park village with no entry fee. A chance to enjoy history freshly manufactured on an industrial scale. See pictures here.

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