Contrast the “no one in sight” in Lansing with the village of Vaison la Romaine, where the downtown is open for business from 7:00 in the morning until the last café closes in the evening and filled with people throughout the day sitting in the cafés, walking or shopping for their daily baguette.
I love sitting on our veranda in Vaison and watching the day go by. Even though we do not live “downtown,” it is amazing to me how many people walk past our apartment building every day. cWhen I leave the apartment to go shopping or to go for a coffee or for a pichet de vin, I encounter people every step of the way.
I see Jacqueline who walks her dogs twice daily. There is the elderly woman who lives down the alley, and there is the mother of one of the kids at the crèche who has a shop. Once in “centre-ville,” there are folks everywhere. There are parents whom I have met when they come to the crèche to pick up their children. There are the merchants and shop keepers whom I see on a daily basis and who recognize me. There are the few “street people” – clean and quiet but always present. On sunny days, there are older men and women occupying every bench that has a southern exposure (and there are a lot of benches in town.)
One of the advantages of small-town Vaison la Romaine (population 7,000) vs. small-city Lansing (population 120,000) is that I see more people that know me or that I recognize or know in Vaison la Romaine than I do in Lansing. – and we have lived in
almost 35 years! Lansing
Centre-ville Vaison is the destination of most residents. The stores are there and they provide the services and products that we need for daily life. When I walk through downtown
, there are few businesses that could help me meet day-to-day living needs. There is a very good men’s store, a nut shop, a souvenir shop and a number of restaurants/cafés/bars several of which are not open on Saturday and most of which are closed Sunday. Lansing
Is a downtown vibrant because of the critical mass of people who live in the area or come to visit the shops or do people move to an area because of the products and services available (a.k.a., What came first, the chicken or the egg?) If I knew the answer, I could be a highly paid urban planning consultant. Maybe that was the role the pope played when he ordained the “market days” throughout
(Tuesday was ordained Vaison’s market day by the pope in the 16th century.) The Tuesday market in Vaison remains one of the best markets in Provence . Provence