Oh, I see! moments
Travel Cultures Language

Crossing Cultures: To France with a Sheltie

by Sheron Long on May 16, 2013

A Sheltie in the markets of Provence prompts aha moments while crossing cultures

Chula the Sheltie loves the windy Wednesday market in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
© Sheron Long

Aha Moments in the Markets of Provence

Our Sheltie, Chula Wula D’Augue, has never been inside a grocery store in her home state of California. She’s not allowed on the grounds that dogs and food do not mix.

But every year when we take her with us to France, the cultural differences work in her favor. Crossing cultures means she can stay in hotels, from simple to chic, and go with us to restaurants, where the kind waiters bring her water and sometimes an amuse-bouche.

And she can make her favorite foray into the big outdoor food markets where dogs and food DO mix. Here in villages across Provence amid the chatter of buying and selling and the tasting of everything from cheese to paella, is where Chula and I have one aha moment after another.

In fact, I’m pretty sure of this one revelation:

Everything I need to know about life I’ve learned from my dog in the markets of Provence . 

After crossing cultures to France, a Sheltie steps out her gate and heads to the markets of Provence.

To market! To market!
© Sheron Long

Such as, you ask? Here are my top 6.

1. Follow Your Passion

In our village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we live only a short block from the market. From the time we step out of our gate, Chula strains at the leash, trotting left then right then left again to the sausage table by the centuries old church. She knows the way because, you see, sausage is her passion.

After crossing cultures to France, a Sheltie finds tasty morsels under the sausage table in the markets of Provence.

The deep dive under the sausage table nets Chula some satisfying morsels.
© Sheron Long

And Oh, I see too: Once you find your passion, go for it. The reward is immense.

2. Respect Everyone

Chula looked down her long Sheltie snout into the flat face of this Boxer and said, “Bonjour!” With his short fur, he must have wondered how Chula stood the heat of a Provençal summer. But they found common ground here by the flower stand and shared their secrets on which vendors give treats to canine friends.

After crossing cultures to France, an American Sheltie bridges cultural differences and makes friends with a French Boxer in the markets of Provence.

Sheltie meets Boxer by the flower stand.
© Sheron Long

Oh, I see. Bridging differences can enrich your life.

3.  Sniff Out Opportunities

Not much gets by Chula. Like other dogs with long, wide snouts, she has about 225 million scent receptors. Compare that to the human who has 5 million, and you get a sense of her talented nose, which she uses to interpret her world.

This day, Chula sensed an opportunity and stuck her neck out. She didn’t get the roast chicken inside the sack, but she did get a great scratch and those welcome words joli chien (pretty dog). Befitting words, too, since her name Chula means “pretty” in Spanish.

After crossing cultures, a Sheltie sniffs out food in the markets of Provence and provides an aha moment.

Chula sniffing out opportunities at the big outdoor market in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
© Sheron Long

Oh, I see when you know your talents and put them to work, unexpected good comes your way.

4. Own Up to Your Mistakes

No matter how talented, every dog comes a-cropper from time to time. Chula’s downfall is tomatoes. She loves to steal them out of kitchen gardens, from market crates, off plates left unattended. When she lifted a tomato from this vendor and got caught, she looked up at him with soulful eyes and pledged a reparation. I handed over a euro, and knew she’d do it all over again.

After crossing cultures to France, a Sheltie steals a tomato in the markets of Provence and has an aha moment.

Chula lifts a tomato from a market crate and tries to say she’s sorry.
© Sheron Long

Oh, I see. It’s one thing to say you’re sorry and another to mean it.

5. Live Life with Friends

Chula knows the value of friendship. Good friends help each other put their best paw forward, they watch each other’s back, and they show each other the way. On this sunny market day, two dog friends savored the moment, trotting through the crowd on their way to the paella skillets.

After crossing cultures to France, a Sheltie strolls through the markets of Provence and has an aha moment.

Nothing beats padding through the big Provençal market with a friend.
© Sheron Long

Oh, I see. Time with friends puts a smile on your face.

6. Keep an Open Heart

Chula paused in front of the lovely linens on sale at every market in Provence, perhaps to show that she thinks about things other than food. I like to think she was making a statement about her love of France, her joie de vivre at living life in a different culture, the pleasure of the time away with us.

After crossing cultures to France, a Sheltie admires the linens in the markets of Provence.

Chula loves her life in two cultures–American and French.
© Sheron Long

Who can ever know for sure what a dog is thinking, whether at home or crossing cultures? But no one can doubt the shared love and adventures that transpire when you keep an open heart. Oh, I see! 

Visit AngloINFO Provence for a schedule of market days in the different villages and Avignon-et-Provence for all kinds of events, including markets. 

Belle Provence Travels offers photos and articles about Provençal markets as well as recipes.

Sheron Long and Chula Wula D’Augue are authors of Dog Trots Globe—To Paris and Provencea visual account of their adventures through France, including a chapter and video on the markets of Provence. Chula shares her dog’s-eye view of Provence in these postcards, which she offers to you as a free gift. 



4 thoughts on “Crossing Cultures: To France with a Sheltie

  1. Aren’t shelties wonderful! Mine is the love of my life. He has such heart. His only fault is that he will eat anything that is not nailed down.

    • Yes, Sharon, shelties are just the best. And they have good appetites! Our first sheltie Deefer (see if you can figure out his name) got to many a dinner before we did, and Chula really does lift tomatoes out of boxes and baskets at the markets of Provence! She even took a baguette straight out of a woman’s market basket. Oh-la-la!

    • Harriet,
      My wish is the same as yours! Though Chula had never been in a US grocery store or strolled through a US farmer’s market, she behaved perfectly at the ones in Provence. People always stopped to say hi to her, and that cheered my day and theirs.

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