‘It’s a small world’
‘It’s a small world’, maybe an over used cliché…… Yet things often happen to me, fine gossamer strands weaving connections to my life in California and very often Provence. These invisible threads do indeed shrink my world, just like this story about the charming owner of a shop in Lourmarin, Rose de Bagatelle.
My ‘small world’ connections to Provence and especially Lourmarin are numerous ~ Our very special Lourmarin real estate agent, Gilbert at Sud Durance Immobilier who sold us our house has a daughter who lives in San Francisco. Ben, at L’insolite, a Lourmarin brasserie, who until recently was also in San Francisco where he ran a restaurant for five years. The American who recognizing me from my blog introduced himself outside Café Gaby and who lives three streets away from my son in San Francisco. The lady I met in Lourmarin who worked for our friend in San Francisco. The English chap I met in Lourmarin whose former colleague in Germany now works with my son in California and the English couple in Uzès whose daughter-in-law’s sister from New York works with my daughter in Michigan. The list continues and it’s one such small world connection which led me to meet Nanou in Lourmarin.
Rose de Bagatelle
Tucked along one of Lourmarin’s cobbled streets on 18 Rue du Temple lies the delightful gift and clothing store Rose de Bagatelle. Nestled within ancient golden stone walls this tiny enclave is brimming with carefully selected alluring treasures warmed by the bright, friendly smile of its proprietor Nanou.
The Lourmarin family
First told about this lovely lady by Zennat, a designer in San Francisco who follows my blog, I went to introduce myself. Someone once told me that the most endearing people are those that are interested, interesting and curious, Nanou is all three. On discovering I had recently bought a house in the village she immediately welcomed me telling me I was now part of the Lourmarin family, a Lourmarinoise.
“But,” I stammered surprised, “unlike you, I’m not French, and surely the locals consider me a stranger?”
“Non, non, non, Caroline!” Nanou insisted “You are one of us! I maybe French, originally from Paris but I too am not from here. I also chose Lourmarin because like you when I first came here in 2006, I knew I had to live here. It was love at first sight, after only one minute!”
Nanou smiled at me her azure eyes intent and serious, full of emotion.
“Oh.” I muttered flattered to have a such a connection with a Parisian. “I love it here, it’s utterly intoxicating, it fills my soul, yet I can never truly explain it.”
Nanou smiled knowingly. “Caroline,” (I so love the way she speaks my name as if savoring a rich, velvety wine) “Trying to share such a feeling is like trying to articulate why you chose the man you love. You might say he is handsome or kind or patient or many such things. Others may agree or not but that’s not important, he’s those things to you… and it is the same about a place. This little village that fills your heart does so for reasons that are special to you and that’s all that matters.”
The magical romance of her wisdom immediately resonated and I knew I’d found a soul mate. The small world connection continued as when I explained I lived in California she laughed telling me that her Italian husband had a long standing love affair with USA. “Sometimes,” she laughed “I think he thinks he is not Italian at all but American and so we have a home in Arizona. And like you we go back and forth between Lourmarin and USA.” Really, someone else was as crazy as me?!
We’ve chatted and laughed together many times since, getting to know one another, sharing stories, learning about each others lives……
Not long after that first visit to Lourmarin in 2006, Nanou persuaded her husband to move there from Bologna, Italy. Shortly afterwards Nanou opened Rose de Bagatelle (named after Bagatelle Park in Paris where she has fond memories of walking with her grandfather.) Luring her daughter Tatiana from Paris to run the shop with her, Tatiana initially wanted to explore other locations in Provence. However she quickly understood her mother’s entrancement with Lourmarin.
“There is something about this place.” Nanou told me wistfully “It is difficult to put into words, I call it the ‘Lourmarin effect’. Tatiana felt it too.”
Domaine La Cavale
Months after meeting Nanou, those delicate threads spun their invisible magic again. During a visit to a local wine domaine La Cavale, the vivacious and knowledgeable young woman who spent over an hour with us explaining about the grapes and the wine and all things viticulture turned out to be Tatiana…….
Had Zennat in San Francisco not followed my blog and not got in touch maybe I’d still not have met Nanou, a lady who lives in Lourmarin and spends half her life in USA. If Tatiana hadn’t been so engaging maybe we’d never have chatted and I’d never have discovered she was Nanou’s daughter. Somehow I think those ‘small world’ ethereal threads will just keep spinning and connecting………….
If you are in the Luberon do visit the state of the art winery at La Cavale. And 10 minutes away in the middle of Lourmarin, Nanou and Tatiana’s charming boutique, Rose de Bagatelle where you’ll find clothes, accessories and jewelry which as their website says ‘are as elegant as these ladies are feminine.’
18 Rue du Temple, Lourmarin 84160
+33 490 791 282