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November 1, 2010

Toussaint Vacation Day Two: Arles and Dijon

I had major plans for today, my first back chez moi in 10 days. Most of them included laundry. Since I only have 3€24 in small change to my name and a load costs 6€, and everything's closed today for Toussaint, there's nowhere to get change even if I did free even more cash from my American account. So that gives me license to have spent the ENTIRE day on my computer, right? There was really nothing else to do. I swear. Nothing. (Stop looking at me, sink full of dirty dishes!)

Moving on. We woke up on our second morning in Arles to the sounds of Cécile fighting with her alarm clock. "No way!" she yelled when it first went off. "I do not want! I so do not want!"

Our lovely hostess Cécile chez elle.
A brief aside to tell you how adorable Cécile's English is: whilst hanging out this summer, we were discussing how weird it is that in French the subject and object are reversed when you're talking about someone/thing missing another. Ex: In English you would say, "I miss customer service." In France you would say, "La service à la clientèle me manque (Customer service misses me)." I asked her if it would be funny if I said, "Je manque le frommage" instead of "Le frommage me manque." "Yes," she said. "Because then, is like the cheese need you." She'll also stare at you intently while you're talking and then say, "Sorry, I do not listen to you," when she means she didn't hear or understand what you said. Mignon!

After Cécile got her booty to class that morning, Kelly and I enjoyed a breakfast of leftover baguette, homemade jam we found in the fridge, and swamp tea. We had been introduced to swamp tea the day before. It's when you have loose leaf tea but no bag, so you're forced to fish the sodden tea leaves out with a fork, say, and pile them on an old receipt, say. The level of difficulty is exponentially increased when you're drinking from a dark bowl that camouflages errant leaves. 

We headed out in search of the museum with the really old statue face they found in the river that runs through Arles and may or may not represent Julius César. We got a bit lost getting there, which wasn't so bad when we happened to meander past an olive tree. Now, I've never met an olive I didn't love, so I went ahead and popped one right in my mouth. Holy bitter nasty poison. My sense of taste chose that moment to come rip-roaring back after its vacation, causing me to "Kak! Kak! Kak!" all the way down the street. 

Oh, so many places to go!
We finally arrived at the museum after a few additional wrong turns, and I suddenly lost any and all interest in going inside. I'd already had about as much patrimony as I could take. Cécile called, wondering where we were. We told her we'd gotten really lost (true) and weren't able to find the museum (lie) but now we were hungry for lunch (so, so true). After a couple of false starts we ended up at a place called La Mule Blanche, where they served bull meat. Cécile was really insistent that we try the regional specialty, especially since we weren't able to see the statue face that may or may not have been Julius Cesar personified. 

I ordered the boeuf stew made with bull, and Kelly ordered a glorious salad with quail eggs, duck cutlets, and a hefty portion of foie gras on the top. We ate about half each and then switched. Did you know you're not supposed to spread foie gras? It's not pâté, you animal. In any case, it was really f'ing delicious, topped only by the raspberry millefeuille with English cream and meringue cookies for dessert. This may have been the best meal I ever had in France.

Bull bourguigno
 We then had to bid our hostess adieu and take off for the train station. We were treated to the most sunshiney glorious weather as we rolled through Provence in our Harry Potter-esque train compartment. The only thing not charming about that train ride was that Kelly beat me in Scrabble. By a lot. 

Our next stop was Dijon, where I was required to go for my medical visit that would garner me a very important stamp in my passport that would allow me to keep all my limbs if the government ever found out how often I buy purchases under 2€ for the express purpose of breaking a 20 into more manageable sums. Or something.

After a very blasé dinner in one of the few bistros still open, we happened upon a sight that made Kelly squeal in delight (rhyme!): Workers hanging Christmas lights in the streets. Seeing this was one of her long-cherished dreams since girlhood. And the French government made it happen for her, by forcing me to cut my trip in Arles short so I could get that shiny new stamp. And you said they never granted any wishes...

Christmas lights go up in Dijon, joy explodes in Kelly's heart.
 Next up: medical visit in Dijon, meeting awesome Couch Surfing Grenoblins in Grenoble.

1 comment:

  1. Tres charmant! (is that correct?)