July 19, 2012

One Week in Southern France - The First Days

Eleven hours of travel, and a quick car ride from Frankfurt airport, and I find myself in the small town of Aix en Provence, Côte d'Azur, France. Ruddy-clay buildings, tall and crowded and unplumbed, along cobblestone streets with peeling platan trees

The air is sweet, dry, with pine and grapevine and juniper. I set up home base in a clean, cool basement apartment with a backyard and swimming pool. Well, make that half-a-swimming pool as it seems to have been sized to suit. Maybe that's a good metaphor for the trip here: the idea of sizing. 

The first day I walk through the streets, pretty much in a stupor due to lack of sleep (not unlike drunkenness), and everything becomes a series of margins. I narrowly escape getting hit by a car - well, make that several of them - while walking on roads without shoulders. I stumble into walls and trip over the rain culverts. I am like an insect bouncing around in a lampshade. It's a great start. 

In true tourist fashion, I do manage to learn a few things: 

  1. Cicadas will shed their entire husk and leave it fastened to a tree branch or flower stem or chair leg. Upon first notice, you will think the bug is still there, but it is essentially only its Form - perhaps a useful example for Plato. Their song is a never-ending violin tuning session. 
  2. Motorcyclists have rule of the road. In a traffic jam, they will weave between cars. On the street, they will cut in front of other drivers, or run down the average citizen. They also wave to each other always, be it Vespa or Harley or Kawasaki. A flick of the fingers and a casual nod. It might be a conspiracy. 
  3. Even on the sunniest of days, with temperatures hitting +33C, Mediterranean beaches can be socked in with fog. Happened today. We didn't stay. We will return. 
  4. You can sample roasted deer meat at a local supermarket. And by local supermarket, I mean a grocery center that is larger than any Superstore I've ever seen. Think a hundred yards of cash registers, with seated cashiers who are polite and formal and never quite in a hurry. 
  5. Eggs are not sold in refrigerated sections. They are simply on a shelf, in an aisle. Apparently, if an egg is not washed first, it does not require refrigeration. 
  6. Pizza from roadside trucks is AWESOME!
Colin waiting for the grub. 

Sleep is worth its weight in gold. If my friend, Colin, hadn't woken me up at 11:30 AM, I probably would still be asleep now. But there are more days ahead - and tomorrow we head to Arles, to discover some ancient Roman ruins - and even better many landmarks that inspired Van Gogh's famous paintings. Nothing wrong with a little art now and then.

More to come... 


Laura said...

I am left imagining the smell of sweet pine, grapevine and juniper...and wondering how good that pizza will look and taste. Loking forward to hearing more about your days ahead.
Salut to Colin!


Laura said...

Looking! Is loking something?

Harry Tournemille said...

Oh the pizza was good, Laura. Reeaalllly goooood.