Friday, October 5, 2012

Dead Ends

After a breakfast of, I hate to admit it, toasted baguette and brie cheese and coffee with, oh dear, real cream, we headed for the market in Orange.  Had a heckuva time finding the market.  Eventually, we simply parked and walked in the opposite direction of the people with shopping bags stuffed with goodies to find the real thing.  

Purses, straw bags, shoes, Provencal fabrics, fruits, vegetables, bread, fish, roasted chicken, roasted pigeon.  And all colors and smells.  We bought some vegetables and some lavender.  (Did you know that “lavander” is the eating variety and “lavendin” is the smelling variety?)  And we wandered still. 

Come time to leave, and we looked to catch up with the Tour of the Dentelles (a mountain range named for its lace-like profile—“dentelle” meaning lace), a drive, which included Vaison-la-Romaine, Malaucéne (tried to find the watchtower converted to clocktower), Le Barroux, Beaumes-de-Venise, Vacqueyras, and Gigondas.  After Orange’s market, we headed to Gigondas and found an ideal parking spot right at the edge of the walk up to the 14th-century chateau.  We stopped up the street in a small restaurant and sat outside to enjoy a lovely lunch of risotto with mushrooms and hazelnuts for Cindy and me and very delicate spinach and ricotta ravioli with parmesan cheese for Phil and a lovely carafe of gigondas wine for all.  We topped it off with coffee and a climb up toward the top along the difficult-to-navigate cobblestone streets/paths. 

To Carpentras in search of the oldest synagogue in France, which we found closed.  So we thought we’d visit the Cathédrale-St.-Siffrein.   Many of the Jews from that 14th-century synagogue converted to Catholicism to avoid persecution and attended the cathédrale.  Because we couldn’t be sure that the walk there would be as simple as it appeared on the GPS map, we drove--only to find ourselves in narrow one-way lanes moving in the wrong direction where people were motioning to us that we should reverse direction.  So lots of movement in reverse, three-way turns, narrow turns, angry looks along with looks of pity and disgust ensued until finally we made it out onto a “conventional” road with more than one lane and cars moving faster than three MPH. 

After that stressful little interlude, we wended our way toward Lagnes, stopping at a small supermarket to buy a few staples.  We made it back just before dark and had a cozy evening at home watching BBC thrillers and eating veggies and cheese, drinking wine and reporting on the day’s events. 

It’s pretty easy to feel at home here.  The weather has been grand—warm enough this evening to sit outside for a time.  I haven’t encountered too many dead-ends—language-wise.  (I’ve already reported on the dead-ends with the car.)  It’s always a challenge, but not intimidating or uncomfortable.  It feels good to stretch my brain and improve my French.  What better way to use those cerebral cells?

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