Our dear friend Kali was our guide to the picturesque and medieval town of St. Paul.
This is one of the towns most visited in France and thus residing here gives you special privileges, especially when going into town. One of the rights granted is to enter the heart of the town by car and then to use one of the rare parking places. That is what we looked for on the day of our visit.
Narrow cobble stone streets led us to the entrance of the town. No Cadillac or Bentley was in sight here as Kali drew up in her Peugeot at the entrance gate and slipped introduced her “pass” into the slot to open the gates for us. “Open Sesame” and with a sigh of relief and a smile on our faces we entered the town.
Kali drove into the heart of town along cramped, winding and curvy streets which were lined with 14th century stone houses belonging to famous artists such as Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. Red geranium plants sitting in front of the heavy, wooden doors were a vibrant contrast with the grey cold of the stones.
We had a deft and cautious driver, used to these driving conditions and the Peugeot slithered easily past narrow spots just like a snake would do. Kali spotted her usual parking place and stopped the car close the steep staircase of a local restaurant along the ramparts.
Our destination was the well known medieval Collegial Church and to reach it we climbed up a steep stairway into the village and from there to the top of the hill.
The church, built here in the Middle Ages and years ago an ideal protection for many a resident, seemed to be waiting for us.
A short visit of its quiet, dark interior and we were on our way to greet her friends, the Grunigs, and to visit their shop located along the stairway, on the Rise of the Church to be exact. Their smiling faces and firm handshakes were a warm sign of welcome.
The owner, George, and his wife, Nicole, proudly welcomed us into their shop and showed us various items of their handmade merchandise. Handsome pieces of shiny jewelry, silky pastel colored scarves and colorful handsewn provencal skirts.
I bought a set of pale yellow napkins with typical provencal designs, as well as several lavender hearts sewn by Nicole. With much fondness would I look at them at home and remember my short but friendly visit here.
Before leaving St. Paul, we walked along the main street to the end of town and entered the cemetery. Kali’s deceased husband, Didier, was buried here and she wanted to refresh the plants upon his grave. The view from the cemetery is breathtaking.
It overlooks numerous clusters of hamlets and finally stretches out to the Mediterranean.
Looking a bit closer it appeared as though the houses wore red tiled hats and balloon-shaped pine trees poking up like green umbrellas. Beyond that glimmered the blue, deep blue Mediterranean.
The cemetery itself was home to dozens of graves and housed many pine trees and their refreshing smells penetrated our nostrils. Once Didier’s grave was swept and washed, we noticed other graves in the vicinity.
Marc Chagall’s grave was not far and we walked up the stony path to pay our tributes. It is a white tomb with small stones added by tourists as tributes to him in the Russian and Jewish tradition. We did likewise and placed them on his grave along with the others already placed there. May all rest in peace.
Time had flown by so we returned to Kali’s home where a few days later we packed our bulging suitcases again and got onto the TGV to Valence.
Join us there for some interesting experiences with our longtime friends, Genevieve and Jean Louis.
Au revoir et bises de la Cote d’ Azur,