Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The wind is not in from Africa...

it is from the North and is called le Mistral and is an "extenuating circumstance" allowable in courts of law here! I am not sunbathing on the beach of Cassis but I have walked from the village to the first calanque and back and have had two French moments within five minutes of one another. The first was the two women I saw on the beach and recognized immediately as French: it was lunch time and they were having their lunch break. One was wearing dark trousers, a shirt and a cardigan draped over her shoulders. The other was wearing a very short black shirt (would not have passed the H/W family bendover test in a million years) and a Persian lamb style jacket. Both women had enormous satchel-like bags and were about 25 m from the roadway. How did I know they were French? B/c the one with the skirt was wearing a pair of the highest stillettoes I have ever seen. On her feet ON THE BEACH! We are not talking anything like a walkway, people, we are talking gravel beach and when she stood up, her heels sank into the gravel and she walked back to the car park with her heels sinking at every step. I know b/c I watched!! Only the French!!! (And the curious Canadian!)

The other moment was up the hill where I watched 3 men dealing with a road repair: 2 wearing safety vests hanging over the barrier smoking and watching the one not wearing a safety vest run the clamshell on the back of his camion to deliver the dirt where he thought it should go. The camion did have dumping capability but that, apparently, would have taken too little time!!!

Cassis is lovely: very French tourist as opposed to German/Brit/Amer. There is a very good harbour to the east of several calanques which are essentially tiny fjords which are either moorages for hundreds of boats of all sizes or fishing/swimming holes accessible only by boat or goats!! I think it is the last place Antoine St-Exupery was heard from as he flew his last mission of reconnaissance during WW II. The village is strung along the harbour (restaurant upon restaurant all looking out over boats: this would be almost my idea of heaven) and tucked up behind. It is impossible to escape the slight smell of the sea but, as the tide is negligible, it is nothing like at the Coast!!

We had a spectacular dinner last night of soupe de poissons, upon which we floated large croutes covered with rouille. This was followed by a fish in olive sauce with a broiled stuffed tomato, a slightly curried vegetable terrine and a sprinkle of fresh water cress. (Guess who's feeling better???) Two of the Tour-ists were having their birthdays so wine was abundantly provided - house white. Dessert was Tarte Tatin and a rousing version of Stevie Wonder's Birthday Song!

We spent yesterday morning in Arles (more Romans!!) (AND the mistral.... I actually hid out in the Roman amphitheatre and the RC cloisters to try and stay warm) and then drove across the Camargue. Doris: we DID see white horses but they were at a distance and looked to be in fields rather than running free like yours. It was sooooo windy that all the flamingoes we saw had their heads tucked under their wings: they looked like vandalized plastic ones!!

Tomorrow we are on our way to Villefranche-sur-mer for the last two nights of The Tour and then E and I have to figure out how to spend our last couple of days together. We missed a few things in Nice so will probably end up there. We are not too sure about a return engagement at the hostel - stay tuned!!!

In the meantime, there is laundry to check and bouillabaisse to scout for dinner! Blessings to you all!

Au revoir et a bientot.....

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