15th August was a bank holiday in France. The plan was to leave early to catch the annual parade at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence which ended at 12 noon.
We left at 9.30 am in the hope of reaching Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at 10.30 am. Saint-Rémy is 69 km from our holiday home at Lagarde-Paréol.
While driving 42 km, we were -literally-stuck in a traffic jam. Our GPS did not forewarn us of the stagnated traffic, bumper-to-bumper kilometres long! It happened just before 10 am. We thought it was just the usual traffic; after all, it was a public holiday and we suspected that most people would be heading for the grand parade at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
However, the clock on the GPS ticked … 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes … We still had 27 km to go and the cars did NOT budge an inch! And then we saw cars winding down their windows and human heads popping out and necks stretching out as far left or right to take a glimpse of what lay ahead.
At about 20 minutes, we heard the police siren and then the ambulance.
After a while, we saw people – restless people – getting out of their cars. I jumped on the bandwagon and got out of the car. Below were some memorable photos I took on the A7 highway of the mega long queue of cars on 15th August, 2016. Our GPS confirmed an accident had occurred that morning. I could only guess that it was a serious one as the highway was immediately cordoned off. All cars behind us had to drive an alternative route.
Honestly I felt quite agitated with the long wait….there goes our morning and our plan to be at the parade on time ...😏
After 40 minutes of being completely traffic-immobilised, we finally progressed. Geez!
The Carreto Ramado of Saint-Rémy de Provence
We finally arrived at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at 11.25 am! With about half hour of what’s left of the Parade, we actually managed to watch the grand finale, the Carreto Ramado, an enormous float, decorated with the flora and vegetation, symbolising the farm and produce of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the region.
The huge cart was drawn by at least 50 draught horses, splendidly harnessed one behind the other. It was a sight to behold!
The Carreto Ramado procession is one of the most important events of the summer festivals.
Despite the heat, the crowds were thrilled to relive the tradition of the northern Alpilles since the 19th Century.
These sweet looking girls and handsome boys paraded with pride wearing the costumes of the Arlésiennes from 1900.
The carts, horses, floats, costumed ladies and gentlemen paraded around the town all morning until noon. We were glad to experience that moment, albeit our tardy show up.
By 12 noon, the crowds dispersed, and suddenly, the streets became more fluid.
After the repugnant lunch experience we had at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we vowed to have a more decent meal.
Honestly it was easier to find Gault Millau rated restaurants at Saint-Rémy than most of the neighbouring towns in the Provence, meaning, we’re assured of the best dishes being executed in relation to what we were willing to pay, of course😁
And I had one word for our lunch deal. Exquisite!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is one of the towns in South France that has the most English-speaking tourists.
By the way, we had frequented Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in many of our trips and have always loved it there, so much so that we stayed there during 3 consecutive Summers in the same holiday villa owned by a British couple.
We left Saint-Rémy driving along the most spellbinding avenue of trees which were synonymous of the town. LOVED it!
Before driving home, we stopped by at the address which was once upon a time a 2 Michelin-star restaurant owned by a Belgian couple, Wout and Suzy Bru.
4 years ago while we visited Eygalières, the restaurant was called, Maison Bru.
I read that the Bru’s moved back to Belgium and opened a Brasserie-type restaurant in Antwerp and Wout Bru is no longer a Michelin-star chef.
With 5 days left of our Summer hols, would we be relaxing at the poolside or exploring for more adventures?
Stay tuned to find out 😉