It still feels like a dream to think that I live in a French village. For the last two summers, my husband and I have resided in the town of Eygalières, in Provence.
This hamlet has a population of just over 1,800 residents, based on the 2008 census. Eygalières is home to an eclectic mix of talented artists, writers, musicians, vintners, real estate agents and shop owners. In spring and summer months the secondary homeowners and tourists arrive in throngs. During the off-season, the town maintains its dynamic character in a more relaxed pace.
Many villages in Provence have suffered from one of two fates: either they have had their ‘hearts’ intersected by a major road or, perhaps worse, the artery is not close enough and the community soul dies. Eygalières has, through luck or careful municipal planning, retained its charm. Whatever the reason, it still has an old world personality, as modern life races along the A7 to Avignon or Marseille, or the D99 to St. Remy and Cavaillon.
A leafy green umbrella shades the main street from the scorching Provençal sun. This single road links la mairie (town hall) to the old village. The road is just a short strip of asphalt, yet it is overflowing with everyday life. Bordering the path are stone facades of village homes, where shutters open only briefly to keep out both the Provençal weather and prying eyes.
The town sustains a robust commercial sector. Daily, les épiceries, les patisseries and la boucherie present their tempting local provisions. Restaurants and cafés offer daily specials, gourmet experiences and family dining. I like to say that Eygalières has two of everything where many villages cannot even claim to have one.
Our day in the village is plagued by choices. Where will we pick up our bread today? Do we want to sit with coffee on the sunny terrace at Le Progress and drink an apéro at Café de la Place as the sun dips – or reverse that order?
Shall we wander up the hill by the crumbling walls of the old village this evening toward the seventeenth century Chapelle des Pénitents? We sometimes do just that as we try to imagine the splendid gardens and hideaways behind the ancient crumbling walls.
After our walk, it is time for dinner. Eygalières residents and visitors are treated to a wide range of choices when it comes to dining. There are epicurean treats to be enjoyed on patios shaded by plane trees, as local chefs compete for both business and personal foodie pride.
As night falls, we toast another day in the village of our dreams.
All images by Carolyne Kauser-Abbot