Day 2: ala maison. [note: please be advised that I do not yet speak French well and butcher it at every turn on this blog and when I’m trying to talk to people in person.]
Well, the village and the house are far more spectacular than I could have ever dreamed. It’s like something out of a movie. In fact, I said last night that it’s soooo perfect, it’s like a set. I expect grizzled old roadie-dudes to jump from the bushes and haul it all away any second. Here are some photos, but take my word that they really don’t do it justice. Let’s just say: 13th century stone walls, gorgeous tile floors, beamed ceilings, and a third-story terrace to knock your socks off.
View from my bedroom (of my new ami, JS, talking with GB)
View from the terrace of the Lot river valley.
GB’s bedroom window looks out onto this fantastic patchwork of tile rooftops. Here’s a pic of that:
Those are some OLD roof tiles, my friends.
The house smells exactly like KM’s cabin in Inverness: fireplace smoke, must, and like it’s been locked-up a while, some of my favorite smells associated with some of my favorite memories and place. Mmmmmm.
When you approach the village from Villeneuve-sur-Lot, there is just a crazy view of this village perched on a hill (wish I had a picture, but somehow, I did not get one). Pretty over the top. I just couldn’t believe: a) there was a such a wacky town built on a hilltop, and b) I was going to stay there. In the village itself, GB lives in a narrow little street. Here is the street.
View from the front of the house, looking down the street.
Last night we somehow managed to drag ourselves out to dinner in an attempt to stay awake and get on local time. I felt like a teenager who’d been up for three days camping out before a Duran Duran concert, strung out on pure adrenalin. Only now I’m 40 and that doesn’t feel good at all.
We had dinner at Le Jardin, an extremely cute and quaint bistro on the central square. GB is friendly with the owners, so they were all very happy to see her in town for summer again. I had duck confit (this is duck country, apparently–this place just keeps getting better!) with a random yet completely delicious house red wine, a kir, and some fantastically thin and greasy fried potatoes. I polished the plate and then shared a sundae with GB. Je suis en vacances after all (i.e., no calories).
My first meal in France!
After dinner, we walked the bastide loop road. Monflanquin is one of three bastide towns in this region, meaning in autre fois (the olden days) there was a fence around the town to defend it from the invading Normans (I believe–I need to get the details correct later at the bastide musee en la place). That’s also why it’s built high on this hill…easier to defend. We ran into P&S, GB’s village friends who are British. They are having a coffee date this morning, but I think I’m actually just too wiped out for that and will have to miss it.
My French is…manageable. I wouldn’t say it’s good, I wouldn’t say it’s bad. I’d say it’s where it’s at, which is in the beginning stages. I can understand the gist of a conversation, but I have a hard time responding when people are speaking fast and in long, complicated sentences. But I could order food just fine (the most important thing!) and was able to ask if there was any flour in the dish I ordered. I’m also able to read many signs. The drive out here was quite an adventure, but more about that some other time. The village folks are very nice when I’m trying to speak French, and GB says I have a great accent (thank you, Paul Pimsleur!)
Anyway, I’m off to relax and find an internet cafe so I can post this. I’m still extremely bleary-eyed and I haven’t been able to contact The Man yet, which makes me anxious. Love to all!