Siesta Time in the South of France

Apt is one of the larger villages in this area of Provence, and one of the few that doesn’t sit on top of a hill or mountain. It’s one that you could easily drive right through, without even knowing of the old town’s walking streets tucked behind the main thoroughfare. It has a charming network of old cobblestone paths, with boutique shops, boulangeries, patisseries, charcuteries, and cafes. Alex couldn’t make it two steps without having to stop for another photo.

It was peaceful and quiet: maybe a little too peaceful. “Where is everyone?” Alex asked. “These shops are all closed,” said her friend. I checked the time on my phone: “Siesta time” I said. I had read about this somewhere but didn’t really believe it. I thought some businesses would close, but this was like my elementary school French teacher’s class; Madame Walker would roll out the mats, turn out the lights, and declare it rest period— for everyone, including Madame Walker.

Before Siesta ended we drove to a nearby hilltop village called Saignon, but first had to find our way out of Apt. Street signs don’t really exist in Provence. Oh, you’ll see a small sign on a building or wall, but a stand-alone at the corner of an intersection? Forget about it. If the town you’re headed to is on the roundabout sign, you’re good, if not, just hope your GPS is working. Our GPS was not, at the moment.

We passed the proud pizza place from the night before and threw our hands out the window, not to flip them off, just to give another teasing “USA, USA!” Then we passed the pizza place again and realized we were going in circles, thankful we hadn’t flipped them off. Finally, we saw the small sign we’d missed before and headed up a steep zig-zag to Saignon.

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