29 December 2009


Christmas may have come and gone, but unlike Ol' Saint Nick here, we aren't going to let that get us down!!!

We are thoroughly enjoying our time here in the Provence/Cote D'Azur area.  The brilliant light, dazzling sea, pebbly beaches, lavender scented valleys, rambling vineyards, and charming villages are irresistible.  

About 15 minutes east of Toulon, Hyeres has a lot to offer.  Besides being one of the main training areas for the French navy and the flower growing capital of France, it also has a fabulous market.  The market winds its way through Hyere's old medieval center.  

Markets are an absolutely central part of the social life for many people living in villages all over France. Like usual, locals and visitors were out to buy fresh produce, browse for clothing, and catch up with friends.  

One interesting tidbit we've picked up on our numerous visits to French markets is the way they sell squash.  The most common form of winter squash here is the one pictured above.  It has the same coloring as a butternut, but is usually much bigger and has a distinctively different taste.  Instead of buying the whole vegetable, tough old French ladies hack them apart and you take home whatever sized slice you need. 

After our stroll through the market, we wandered the streets a bit to see what Hyeres was all about.  What we found was a place that combines rustic charm, light-hearted humor, and sophisticated elegance.   

The windows of the shops and restaurants are all painted for the holidays.  It seemed like there was a competition for who could come up with the funniest, catchiest, or most creative design -- no traditional Santa in his sleigh here!

This area also seems to be cute-shutter capital of France.  Azur blue, brilliant turquoise, periwinkle, cornflower -- the brighter the better.   

We made our way up to the highest peak in town and were treated to a stunning panorama of the town and a brilliant view of the Mediterranean Sea.  In the distance are a few islands that undoubtedly hold new wonders of their own -- we'll have to save that for another day!