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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good though...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Last evening was a typical French dining experience: too long and too late. Good though. We walked into Fontvielle—the village north of Arles where we’re staying for this leg of the trip—and chose Le Table de Meunier. The patron proved to be a clown who introduced himself as “Chierry”. At least that’s what I gathered; it sounded rather like “Jerry”. He hustled us into the garden dining area, in what he seemed proud to announce was originally the chicken coop of the house, built in 1792. Voltaire was still producing his plays in Paris. Two hours later we had long since finished eating. The women had tired and left; I was waiting for l’addition and listening to the Germans seated across the room. I thought to speak to them but changed my mind when I made a departing error. By way of expressing gratitude I shook hands with the patron and said, “Merci beaucoup, Msr Cherie”. The room erupted in laughter. Only then did I realize I’d instead pronounced the name I approximated above as cherie. I would have laughed, too, on hearing someone say, “Goodnight, Mr Dear”. I walked out, since it would have been even more embarrassing to attempt to acknowledge my error. Funny though.

Today we rode up to the citadel called Les Baux [pronounced “bow”], built in the 9th c atop one of the many limestone outcroppings—aluminum is smelted from “bauxite”—in this region called Les Alpilles (“Little Alps”). Jane bought a lavender stuffed animal we dubbed “Gustave Faux Bear” and nicknamed “Baux”. It joined the moose (acquired on our bike ride through New Hampshire about 12 years ago) in of Jane’s mesh pockets, which now contains “Baux & Errol”.

Descending to the valley again we biked north to St-Rémy. The town was Saturday-busy and the day, which had begun threatening rain, gradually brightened. The mistral wind—which prevails from the south this time of year—was coming up when we reached the archeological site of Glanum, a city built in the 8th c BCE by native Gallics (the people for whom the Romans named the region “Gaul” when they overran it 700 years later). I reflected on the fact that the original city, largely obliterated by the Romans overbuilding the site, nevertheless lasted more than three times the 200 years of U.S. history…

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