St-Buvard

Located just west of Aix-en-Provence and due north of Marseilles, the quaint and totally fictional village of St-Buvard (or “Saint Erasure” as Maggie translates the name) is like most charming moments in time, a throw-back to a simpler, more organic life. The young ones won’t stay, the oldsters aren’t really sad to see them go.

This is actually Lourmarin, the first village of Peter Mayle from "Toujour Provence" fame. It may be a tad larger than St-Buvard, but you get the idea.

This is actually Lourmarin, the first village of Peter Mayle from “Toujour Provence” fame. It may be a tad larger than St-Buvard, but you get the idea.

Boules is played in the square, café crèmes and full-on espressos give way to pastis by midday. The plane trees that flank the village square scatter their leaves on the cobblestones like pale confetti and there’s no hurry to do anything.

St-Buvard lost its boulangerie in book two, Murder à la Carte, but still has a thriving café/bistro/bar in Le Canard where Laurent likes to hang out with his other vintner friends. His associates change somewhat in book six, Murder in Nice, but Laurent will always love the life of a vigneron and some friendships (like Jean-Luc) will endure all.

The village tabac–where Maggie dealt with the very possibly murderous gypsy, Gaston–still sells its sundries, Gitanes and so forth, and Madame Dulcie still terrorizes her husband and most of her patrons at the village charcuterie. (Maggie visits to be friendly but leaves most of the serious meat buying to Laurent and he goes to the market in Aix for that.)

Beautiful, lost in time, gentle, St-Buvard was the precursor of the slow-food movement. In fact, the slow everything movement.

Soupe de poisson is perfect on a chilly autumn day

Soupe de poisson is perfect on an autumn day. This was mine one afternoon in Aix a few years ago.

Spend an afternoon here (or the time it takes to read the whole series!) and you’ll come away with a craving for tapenade, fresh-baked croissants, a spicy lapin stew and an hour to just stare into space and wonder.

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