I have been living in Dubai for almost nine years now, this means, for around 3,285 days, I have been surrounded with tall skyscrapers and moving metal boxes. I can’t say that I don’t like it, but there is something about the country side that feels close to my heart.
Imagine this, blue skies, a clear view of the horizon with cute petite houses, birds chirping and the smell of freshly baked breads across the street. A scene which makes you want to sing:
“Little town, it’s a quiet village
Everyday like the one before
Little town full of little people
Waking up to say……
Yes, I was referring to the opening number of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Setting my feet in the South of France makes me feel like I was in that small village where Belle was walking on the way to the book shop.
With around three hours train ride from Paris, Saint Andre De Sangonis is totally different from the city of lights. A place that is rarely visited by tourist that my presence there was known by the whole town. My friend told me that in their office, there were some talks of an Asian guy walking around town in the morning —-GUILTY! aha!
I visited my friends’ house over the summer and we lived in their small and very lovely studio at an attic, a perfect location to see the whole town from above.
I love how simple life can be. Starting the day with a morning baguette at the nearby boulangerie is like a dream. Visiting the vineyards and tasting wines seem just like an ordinary day.
Summer is always the most ideal season to visit the South of France, although compared to the rest of the country, the south can be too warm (but then again, who doesn’t like some sun?).
One of the major things that I enjoyed during my stay in San Andre are the food! We ate simple yet we ate good.
True French cuisines. I ate and ate and ate! A simple dish made special, that’s what I call it. I asked my friend to give me the names of the food we ate, and she gave me all French terms, NICE! Let me see if I can translate them all in English, or basically how I remembered them.
We normally start with a slice of cured dry pork sausage partnered with a foie gras or green olives and some appetizer wines. For a more hardcore French village men, an appetizer should be partnered with a Pastis (sort of an anise based liquor). After this, the main courses will be served which are, salads, assorted hams, sausages, steaks (any meat), potatoes and eggs, of course each meal should be partnered with wine, until the last course, which will be the dessert. Eating with the French at their home is such a journey. I loved every bit of it.
The Melon et Jambon Serrano was a surprise for me. I never thought that this kind of partnering existed. Popularly known as a summer treat, it is a combination of a salty Serrano Ham wrapped on a sweet melon slices. The saltiness combined with the sweetness really worked, refreshing and indeed tasty! Instantly became one of my favorites!
If the Melon and Ham is a dish popular during warm summer days, for winter, the Raclette is the star of the table. Although we had this on a summer dinner, I truly understand why this is a popular winter dish. The warm melted cheese on top of potatoes and ham creates like a blanket of comfort similar to having a fondue (although heavier).
I loved that I was able to taste food that I don’t normally eat and to some extent felt that these food however simple they may looked like, still felt fancy for an Asian like me (of course, if you attempted to prepare these food here in Dubai, I can assure you that they can be very costly–arrgh I hate this fact, cause I am craving for these a lot) .
Whenever people asked me where I want to retire, I always say that I want to spend the rest of my non-working days, at the country side. This dream was truly inspired by my visit in Saint Andre de Sangonis.
After my quick stay in the South of France, I can say that I fell in love with this country more. As compared to Paris, this is the real France. Real people, real smiles and of course real gastronomic experiences.
If you happen to visit France aside from getting a dose of the Parisian Life, I would encourage you to head on to the train station, booked a ticket to the South! You will never regret every moment of it!0