Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful Montpellier

We had such an adventurous day yesterday, I was far too overwhelmed to write.

We packed up our suitcases on Wednesday evening after a wonderful meal at La Fontaine de Mars. It was great food. I spluged on the specialite, fois gras with poached pears. Ah, heaven on a fork. Bill had the plat a jour, duck burgundy, a rich stew of duck, potatoes, mushrooms, and red wine. Such wonderful food and service in a traditional brasserie (Madame was wrong) with red checked table cloths and crisply ironed napkins. I recommend this place for everyone from presidents to peasants.

Thursday morning, we went down to breakfast in the hotel, then back up to our room to get wallets and a shopping bag. On the way back down, the elevator opened to reveal two substantial British gentlemen who said, "oh, no, come on, there is plenty of room," and inspite of the fact that there is a sign in the back of the lift saying "Only two persons," in French - we thought, "okay, it will be alright." Of course, the elevator did not agree, and we went all the way to the bottom floor, and then it fell about 2 feet to the very bottom with a solid bang. (I hope it wasn't the fois gras!) We had to ring for help, and Madame was VERY ANGRY with all of us. The two gentlemen beat a hasty retreat, and we were left to a good lecturing and much wringing of hands. Well, I was very sorry, but no one inquired as to our well-being, and after the scare and a bruised knee, I wasn't much impressed with being treated to the "naughty child" lecture. I guess in the States, the management might have heard from someone's lawyer, but at least we were not physically injured, but Madame displayed such angst and trembling, I am sure she would benefit from regular medication of some sort. I had listened sympathetically to how hard she was working with no vacation, etc. the night before.

After all that we had a quick and easy taxi to the Gare de Lyon, a full but comfortable 3 hour train trip, and then arrived in Montpellier. However, a pitiful young woman on the train about three aisles back from us kept up a very loud French conversation, completely one-sided, for the entire trip. When I glanced back, there she was resplendent with firey red hair and fingernails playing a Game Boy. The gentleman sitting next to her was silent and stoic, and I couldn't tell if he was with her or not - probably not. She got off in Nimes and almost immediately began to shriek and cry hysterically about something, even getting back on the train at one point and then fleeing to the platform where she continued is a similar manner. I never heard such screaming. Poor thing. The people on the train were all craning to see what was going on, but I couldn't understand what was being said, and eventually we pulled out of the station about ten minutes late. That's two for regular mediation.

Our taxi from the station in Montpellier put us out about two blocks from our apartment as it is located on a pedestrian-only square. Unfortunately, we were on the downhill side of the square and had to drag our suitcases up about twenty steps and then across the cobblestones to the front door. I'm sure the little ladies enjoying the afternoon sun were entertained. I kept dropping things - first, water bottles, a bag, my coat, then my coat again. I should have bowed and enjoyed applause once I finally reached the door.

Well, the apartment is absolutely spacious and beautifully furnished. We un-packed, visited a small shop for essentials, and did a little walking to see what is nearby. It is a lovely city, small, with lots of medieval alleys and beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings. We are only a couple of blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. Everything is illuminated at night, and so pretty. There are out-door cafes on every corner and square. We ate outside at lunch. Of course, there are lots of pattiseries as well with gorgeous bread, croissants, and pastries of every kind.

I will write more about the city tomorrow. Since we'll be here for two weeks, we'll have lots of time to explore. The sun is out today, and it is warm enough to stroll without a jacket. This region of France has lots of fruit orchards and vineyards. The plum trees are blooming, so it is early spring here, while still winter in Paris. We are happy for warmer weather.

With no luck at all, we should find some regional wine and good food for dinner.

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