I started to title this post, au revoir, but realized immediately that a bientot was actually what I meant.
We leave for home on Wednesday, spending Tuesday night at a hotel at the Marseille airport because our plane is so early.
It gives a chance to spend the day in Marseille, one of our favorite places in France (what isn’t one of our favorite places, you might ask). Len has been yearning to eat bouillabaisse and we are finally going to do it at a well know restaurant, Chez Fonfon. I may skip the bouillabaisse, since it is very expensive, but since I love fish, I am sure there will be something to interest me.
We have had a wonderful time these five weeks. I think one of the best things about traveling is that we learn so much — not just about the places we visit or the experiences we have, but about ourselves, as well.
We are lucky that we enjoy each other’s company so much, since one of the “downsides” of living/traveling in a foreign country is that we have fewer encounters with people. The language still remains a barrier, although this is decreasing. It means that we spend much of our time “alone” experiencing things just between ourselves.
This “aloneness” was mitigated somewhat by joining two other members of the Chez Mirabel household for a delicious lunch at a beautiful restaurant about an hour from here in the Gard region, on the “other” side of the Rhone. Jim and Lynda have another house here and they were staying over the Christmas holiday. So, we had one of those amazing French lunches — two and a half hours in a lovely Michelin one star — with the outstanding service and food that France is famous for. Two amuses bouche, an aperitif, an entree, plat, dessert, a glass of white wine, a bottle of red, coffee, another little sweet at the end. And it was $60/per person! A lot for lunch, but this is the kind of memorable meal that not only stays in your memory, but fills you up for the whole day.
Our other “deep” encounter was with Juliette, who manages Chez Mirabel for us all. She stopped by to deliver some sheets and we asked her about something that seemed paradoxical to us.
Mirabel is thriving — or at least the town as a whole is. Many newish houses just outside of the small downtown and much building of even newer houses in the area. It seems as if the population is growing, and many of the newcomers seem well enough off to build large houses. And yet, the downtown has some open store fronts and no real restaurant. How Come I ask?
Turns out, according to Juliette, the mayor has a drinking problem, the assistant mayor is a Communist (there are still CP in many European countries) and doesn’t believe in “development” that would “only” benefit the rich. Hard to see why any economic development in this very small town wouldn’t benefit everyone, but that attitude has put a stop on some projects (like expansion of the chocolatiers who has now left completely).
2017 is an election year in France, including local elections, so there may be some changes. And a quick word on the election. We have seen NOTHING about this publicly. No signs, billboards, advertisements, nothing. It will start eventually, but none of this two years and ten billion dollars.
I will leave with some images of our travels.
One of the most unique experiences for both of us is seeing the very lasting effects of World War 2 here in France, something we never encounter at home. Even here in Mirabel, there is a plaque on the wall of a house noting that a member of the French Resistance was killed right there.
We are already planning our trip in October. So, a bientot tous le monde.
And Bonne Annee!