July 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Postcard from Provence

“Our successful show ends in Gordes...”

By Tom Maguire

Culture Vulture

Tom Maguire is a musician, arts supporter and a guy who travels the Southwest in a 13’ Scamp trailer, because he couldn’t figure out how the tent poles went together.

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On our last evening in Provence, we will again celebrate and feast at the home of our lovely hosts during our almost three-week stay: Christiane and Jean Philippe Marcy, the parents of artist Francisco Benitez' wife, Anne Marcy.

The stay at their country house in Senas has been an ongoing scene from the film “Babette's Feast.”  Both Anne and Christiane are wonderful cooks in the Provencal traditions of the region. Every day they shop in the village for fresh fruits, vegetables and, of course, bread. Each evening's repast is, somehow, better than the evening before. There is always a local wine (the region is known for its rosé) and salads of immense immagination, followed by a main course of meat or, in my case, fish and a vegetable or pasta dish. We follow this with more wine, local cheese, fruit and desserts.

I know that each of the artists returning to the states in the next few days—Michael Bergt, Thea Witt and her Best Boy Grip, Moi—will have food withdrawal when we return to Santa Fe. But, it will also be the spirit of our times together that I will miss most.

Yesterday Jean Philippe took us on a tour of Aix en Provence. A retired history teacher in Rodez, he grew up in Aix and daughter Anne went to university there before she met Francisco (Paco) in Spain and they moved to Santa Fe. Paco and Anne will remain in Senas for anothr month, having rented their southside Santa Fe home to the Santa Fe Opera until, their late-August return – poor dears. Jean Philippe took us on the most amazing walk through the old city of Aix, so often associated with Cezanne.

We began with the weekly Thursday market on the boulevards and alleys of the area which dates from the 13th century. There we were given the history of each era's mark on the passage of time: the cathedral and its cloister fom the 13th century (built over earlier, Roman buildings and streets), the post-Roman architecture and on through the first, second and third republics and the revolutio—each time its inhabitants making their indelible marks on the cityscape. In the old city little has changed, as a modern one has emerged outside of its well-defined core. And, of couse, Jean Philippe knew the perfect place to have a lunch, down an alley unknown to most tourists. Later, a cafe au lait at a sidewalk cafe. 

As I return to Santa Fe, the community I have dearly loved since the mid '60s, I will have left a portion of my heart and soul in Provence. You see, the two regions have many similarities. Thea and I are already planning our next visit – perhaps for me to perform at some of the music festivals in the region. We are also looking forward to the next visit by Christiane and Jean Philippe to Paco and Anne in Santa Fe. We will welcome them as warmly to our home as we were welcomed in theirs.

In the meantime, Michael Bergt, Thea and I are planning a reunion dinner in Santa Fe after Paco and Anne return. We will set the table with Provencal linens and I will scour the local wine shops for a bottle or two of Provencal wine. It's the least we can do.

T

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