I hadn't read anything about this festival before our arrival, in fact I was a little worried nothing would be open that day because I had read that it was Pentecost Monday and a holiday in France. Fortunately someone mentioned the festival to us and we stuck around for it as it really was quite amazing seeing a flock of several thousand sheep being herded through the city streets. The sheep make a couple of rounds of the city before being herded out
The sheep now make their way by truck from the low pastures to the high mountain pastures but the festival marks the traditional walk
In no time at all, St. Remy's population was out shopping for the day's groceries. Note the two different shopping totes in the picture.
On the left, you'll see a plaid tote on wheels and on the right a traditional woven straw basket on wheels. The tote/basket solves the problem of hauling groceries back to one's apartment or home. No unwieldy bundle shifting around in your arms, but a neat compact carry-all!
Many women pulled these wheeled-wonders along the sidewalks and streets making it easy to cart their purchases.
The town was gearing up for its annual bull race when we dropped by one morning. Piles of iron gates lay on their sides, waiting to be set up as villagers did their day's shopping nearby.
St. Remy is known as a "town of tradition with a passion for bull racing...". If only we had been able to witness this unique spectacle. You sure wouldn't see that occuring in our neighborhood!!
If you look closely at the poster, you'll see that the bulls raced from September 25th-October 4th. Someone from town informed us that the race is only about ten minutes in length.
Sr. Remy has a custom that would add a special touch to anyone's Christmas season, the art of making creche figures or carved wooden santons.
As we made our way up the street, we came to this shop window stacked with these miniatures. All the small details added up to big appeal! People with tiny little hands and feet, angels with cherubic faces and other typical figures such as farm animals: sheep, pigs, horses.
This tradition is well known, so the visitor searching for this type of craft knows exactly where to find it. I didn't note the street, but I'm sure anyone from town can direct you there.
As we roamed about town, we discovered that many, many structures had the traditional white coat of paint and/or Provence blue shutters.
That lovely blue shade is one that has remained fashionable for years and years and seems a standard in St. Remy, adding a very attractive touch. Some say its the same color of the sky overhead, but its a color widely adopted in France and has been for centuries.
Rounding a corner to see yet another home in these traditional colors added a challenge to our visit--finding a home that didn't sport these typically country French hues.
Not just in Provence, but all over France it is a standard practice to offer a set "menu" with choices for your appetizer, main course and dessert all at a specific price, for example 18 Euro or 25 Euro. There are even restaurants where there is no a la carte menu at all. At Bistrot du Paradou, in Paradou (in Provence) there is only one menu available for lunch, and one menu for dinner. Wine and coffee, water, etc are included in the menu price. (which is sometimes the case in any restaurant offering a menu choice) Don't be "put off" by this practice -- it is often a fantastic experience and you may end up liking something you thought you'd never try.