Meeting locals in the South of France

Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in The South of France | 0 comments

Meeting locals in the South of France

My mother-in-law is a piano teacher with students of all ages.  What a pleasure for my group to be able to meet Madame Emilie in her home in the hilltop village of Castellet surrounded by rolling vineyards.  I had heard about Mme. Emilie because it was she who recommended our restaurant for lunch, but we had not planned to meet her.  While wandering in the village, I mentioned to a shop owner that Madame Larrieu is my mother-in-law, and she cheerfully informed me that she knows my mother-in-law well because she comes to the village every week to teach Mme. Emilie, who lives just next door, piano.  The next thing we knew, we were inside Mme. Emilie’s home.


Madame Emilie is over 80-years old and has been taking piano with my mother-in-law for quite some time.  In her former life, she was an artist and a curator at the Louvre museum in Paris.  We see evidence of that from the multitude of paintings in her home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA glimpse of the breathtaking view from her “outdoor” living room

Madame Emilie enjoys a spectacular view of the rolling Côtes de Provence vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea from her apartment.  She enclosed her terrace as a way to extend her living room, and had a large sliding window installed on the outer wall for an unobstructed jaw-dropping view.  “I’ve lived here 56 years, and I never tire of the view,” she says.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were bowled over to see ratatouille simmering on the stove.

We could not believe our luck ~ my travelers thought I had pre-arranged everything.  Not only did we get to meet Mme. Emilie in person and bear witness to her lovely home, she insisted we see her traditional Provençal kitchen (an “eat-in” kitchen with a long rectangular table, designed for prepping, as well as dining), and there – lo and behold – we found a pot of ratatouille simmering on the stove.  In the perfect image of a Provençal grandmother, she had prepared the quintessential dish in anticipation of her grandchildren’s upcoming visit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAntique vaisselier, or buffet, found in Mme. Emilie’s kitchen.

The visit with Madame Emilie was a delightful surprise for us indeed!  These are the moments that make our trips so special.

Photos by Sallye Hof.  Note:  Mme. Emilie’s name has been changed in order to protect her privacy.