A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood


When you’re trying to avoid thinking about cancer and life’s other crashing insults, trying to force dark things into some semblance of perspective, I recommend a visit to a place where people have been living for thousands of years.  A place that’s tripped over all the stumbling blocks known to man and lived to tell the tale.  And I recommend drinking lots of coffee.  Thus we recently found ourselves in the ancient town of Carpentras, where the walls lean close to whisper together


 and where we had the best cup of coffee we’ve ever had in France.


Roasted on site at Les Cafés d’Antan, poetically translated as “the coffees of yesteryear,” it was a delicious taste of the past, a time when we lived where good coffee practically runs in the streets.  I’m not sure why it’s so hard to find the good stuff here, but now we have a source, and we brought home a reassuring supply. 


Les Cafés d’Antan also sells gorgeous chocolate bars


and as an added bonus, a trip to their bathroom offers this beautiful glimpse of the building’s past.


Out in the street all is calm, all is bright,


and Carpentras reveals itself to be a place where the very old and the very young mingle casually.  But what it’s really well known for is its weekly market, where you can buy everything from clothing, bedding, and jewelry


to vegetable art


and the makings of a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.  You could actually make about twenty or thirty pies from this specimen, but fortunately it’s sold by the slice.


Hungry, and having read really good things about Chez Serge, we ascended another picturesque staircase and had an impeccably delicious lunch


in a sun-filled room with zinc-topped tables


that included a garlic-roasted chicken set on a bed of roasted green peas that I’ll be copying at home as soon as I can.

We walked back to the car, reluctant to break the spell.  But just to prove that things are not always just what they seem to be on the surface, and maybe this is true of cancer too, Carpentras had the last laugh.




Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France


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7 Comments on “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”

  1. Jim Says:

    Abra, your photos are stunning. I love the staircase at d’Antan, and the two that follow it.

  2. Ray Says:

    thank you very much for this ‘getaway’

  3. Arne Says:

    Thank goodness! I was beginning to think i was the only one who though really good coffee was tough to find in France. Glad to hear you found something worthwhile! On that note, did you have a chance to try the Epic Espresso?

  4. Michelle Says:

    David and I loved walking through Carpentras when we went to Provence three years ago. We went there because there it has one of the oldest synagogues in the country, dating from 1367. Unfortunately, it was closed when we went, which gives us a good excuse to go back.

    I also remember there was a square with an interesting fountain.

  5. Wonderful post and beautiful photos! Makes me want to hop in the car and drive down to Carpentras…there’s snow on the ground here in Burgundy today.

    I know when I was ill last winter I started to become very adept at cultivating little moments of pleasure – a new restaurant, a good cup of coffee, a hug, a light-hearted read – to take my mind of things. It really helps.

    Bon Courage!

    Laura in Burgundy (from over at http://www.grapejournal.blogspot.com)

  6. Abra Bennett Says:

    Arne, I was hoping you weren’t going to ask that! It’s a very sad truth, but we don’t have a grinder here. We need to take that coffee somewhere to get ground.

    Michelle, we were kind of absent mindedly looking for the synagogue too, but we never did come across it, which is weird when you consider how many signs point to it.

    Thanks for the moral support, guys!

  7. Arne Says:

    No worries Abra. The beans are well sealed so they’ll last until you can find a grinder. Of course, you have other things on your mind …

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