As if the French needed any encouragement, this roadside sign says ‘Mangez de l’ail‘ (‘Eat garlic’). Fortunately, the rolling fields of garlic had no discernible scent when I drove through the region recently. I was avoiding the heavy traffic on the autoroute at the time, opting instead for a longer way around on the back roads in the hope they’d be tractor free. The plants made my route more pleasant because the views weren’t hampered by these low-growing crops.
It turns out I was very close to one of the many self-proclaimed garlic capitals of France — a little village called Piolenc, near Orange in Provence. The village hosts a garlic festival during the last weekend of August, and I’m sad to say I missed it by just a few weekends.
However, the road itself was a mini-fete, with a few other signs like this one promoting garlic. A tractor held us up at one point, but we made the most of it: my French travel partner read out the phrases on each road sign in the slowest, most stoic voice possible, like an order given by a magistrate. The seriousness in his voice about eating garlic was comical, and it lightened our mood unexpectedly, regardless of tractor traffic. Apparently, you don’t even need to mangez the garlic to get some positive benefits!