We had the good fortune this summer of having our few days in Saint-Remy-de-Provence coincide with the town's 32nd annual Festival of Wine and Crafts. Not that we're wine experts; we don't know the specialized language and the names of all the vintages and areas—but we do like tasting and drinking wine and we do love festivals.
Two special plusses for this one: it was right outside the windows of our apartment and stretched down the street to the town hall, and it included a community lunch under the arcades of the Hotel de Ville, with several courses and several wines for 20€ per person. Since we've always enjoyed church suppers, community breakfasts and the like, that went right onto our list.
The sign says "Cave of Cheeses," but the shelves inside are filled with wines
We missed the kickoff on the Saturday, a colorful parade of carts, bands and marchers led by Bacchus which circled the ring boulevard of the old city and then ended at the town hall in the center, where scores of local vintners had set up booths to sample and sell their wares. At the outer edges local craftspeople sold jewelry, textiles and artisan vinegars, among other things.
We paid for our seats, and checked out the seating. Local young people from the organizing committee wrote eveyone's names on the tablecloth, and the seats began filling. Our French is so-so, but we were fortunate that my wife was sitting next to a man she could converse with in Spanish, and I was able to talk with my neighbor in a mix of French and German. True Tower of Babel!
At intervals, we were entertained by musicians passing through; this group is the Dixieland Rovers. Later, there were jugglers and more.
The main course: cod, boiled vegetables (extremely tasty local produce), aioli...and my first-ever snail. To be honest, it might be my last...it was rubbery. But my wife, Joan, promises they're not all like that. We'll see.
Our table companions told us that the woman in white, turning the other way, is a well-known TV and movie performer, but we couldn't come up with anything she might have been in that would have made it to America...
No, that's not decoration, it's just a pile of empty shells that one of our companions decided to make artistic...
And dessert. Like all the other courses, it, too, came with a local wine to sample.