Take a walk on the wild side? In Molière’s Pézenas? Mais oui, especially in high season. During the summer/fall months, the city seems to get by on a few hours of sleep, unfortunately for me.
Crowds, Crowds, Everywhere Crowds
We arrived in Molière’s village in June, smack dab in the middle of high season. Our date of arrival was a national holiday (seriously), so we had a few days to “chill” at a hotel before securing the keys to our flat. I thought this was perfect as it gave us time to check things out—our bank—the shops—the restaurants. It also provided time to get a feel for our new neighborhood.
Pézenas is a small town, less than 9000 inhabitants call it home, but on a glorious summer day, when it’s mobbed with tourists (and tour buses), it feels like 90,000. Okay, slight exaggeration, but it is crowded, very crowded.
Daily Tour Groups
In the distance, we could see our building, but we couldn’t break through the crowds to reach it: this was crazy, but it turned out to be typical. Molière (1622-73, French actor, director, and playwright, among other things) is celebrated in a big way here, (he called Pézenas home for a while). We had just stumbled upon a neighborhood Molière tour…complete with the crowd chanting his name (the tour guide prompted the group when to shout—repeatedly). Initially, this seemed bizarre, but a few weeks later, sitting in my living room, it seemed normal, the chanting didn’t faze me a bit.
What was unusual? The crowds of people clutching a small guide book and map standing in front of the door of our building, taking photos, blocking our entry and exit. It reminded me of the Hollywood Homes Tours in L.A. At that point, I decided to pick up a guidebook at the tourist office.
What’s on the Map? Our Street
A few minutes later, I was at the tourist office thumbing through the guidebook. Looking closely at the map, I saw that our street and building are ‘must-sees.’ Okay, so that explains the crowds.
We live in a 17th-century stone building in the center of the beautifully preserved historic district. The narrow, twisty, quite often cobbled streets are pedestrian-friendly and made for walking (depending on your choice of SHOES). I know it’s difficult to believe, but on occasion, the cute shoes win, and I kind of stumble along (but the shoes are cute).
The neighborhood buildings are tall—three, four, or five stories. The streets are shady due to the height of the buildings. In the summer, the temperature is easily 10 degrees cooler, and you can feel the difference once you enter the district. Obviously, the reverse can be felt in the colder months when you walk quickly to reach a sunny spot.
A Walk Down Our Street
Many have asked what our street looks like, so I thought I’d take you on a little tour. The shops are on the ground floor; the upper floors are residential. I have to confess several shops seduced me and I forgot about taking pics, but this will give you an idea of what can be found down our street (for a ‘browser’ aka shopper, it’s fantastic).
Beyond Charming: Welcome to Rue Alfred-Sabatier
Our building is between a candle shop managed by my friend Mimi, and a marvelous gem/jewelry shop run by a friendly couple. Claire’s shop is across the street. She is a master basket weaver and makes all of her items.
Look up to see the niche on the corner: Saint Roch (1350-1379) and his dog. You can read about his life here.
Moving right along…An amazing leather shop with stylish bags, jewelry, and belts, all hand made. One of my favorite spots to browse.
There can never be too many clothing boutiques.
Spices, salts, and more.
One of my favorite ceramic shops. Very imaginative creations.
My love of handbags should come as no surprise. I was thrilled when I spotted this gem.
Of course, there’s a petite ice cream shop. DELICIOUS!
The colors are vibrant, the clothing well made.
The best scarf shop in town.
So, there you have it—our street (minus maybe eight shops). I still pinch myself daily.
The pinching right now is due to the nightmare of a strike. It affects the entire country, not just Paris. I’m crossing my fingers that we will be able to fly out of Montpellier for a Christmas getaway. Of course, there’s a layover at CDG so…back to the Mantra. But.We.Live.In.France.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah! See you in 2020.
XXX (three kisses in Pézenas)