Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday in Pézenas

We decided we needed an easy day, so pick Pézenas, half-hour from here on the A-75, a 4-lane highway. No problem. But first there's breakfast and market day in the village.

Today, there's a shoe vendor as well, first time I've seen that. We run into Marion and Tony who tell us that the eggs from the chicken/egg man are the best and shows us their "baker's dozen" eggs - which are actually 15 eggs. Will have to try that next time we need eggs. We buy fruits and vegetables from our regular vendor who today is in animated conversation with several of the locals at his stand. The talk is fast and quite accented (although he speaks clearly and in Parisian French when I talk to him). We wait for them all to finish (this is normal - no one is in a hurry - people exchange pleasantries, joke with each other, talk about the weather - no matter how many people are in line behind) and then pay for our produce.

I buy some "jambon sec" (like prosciutto) from the meat and cheese man, same waiting game - no one is in a hurry, news and gossip must be exchanged. Tony recommends the butcher who is selling horse meat - says it's the leanest ground meat ever. Not sure I'll try that.

We head back to the apartment with our produce. On the way, we stop for some trompe-l'oeil photos with the mural at the end of our block. Who's real and who's painted on the wall?

Produce gets put away and we get ready for the trip to Pézenas. The weather is supposed to be cooler and cloudy with chances of rain today, so we pack layers.

Once in Pézenas, we find a free parking lot and start heading into the historic district whose main claim to fame is "Molière slept here". But the old city is charming with narrow streets filled with the shops of artisans and craftsmen and beautiful town homes from the 16th and 17th centuries and earlier. However it is lunch time and stores are closed.

We wander a bit into the center of the historic district and find a "salon de thé" for lunch. The special of the day is tarte avec salade. We each order different ones: Dave and Ron order ham, chevre and prunes, Christine orders spinach, and Lynn orders grilled vegetables. Each of these quiches is delicious and we trade tastes so we can try them all.

We find the "place" where the Green Guide starts its walking tour of the city, then check out the "office de tourisme" where we pick up a more detailed tour in English. In typical Dave fashion, we must find number 1, stop and read about it when we get there and then proceed to number two, etc. The first few numbers are slow-going. We are taking photos, and making sure we find the details mentioned in the tour that makes the site noteworthy. And, of course, we have lots of side trips into little shops, checking out side streets, and finding other interesting things.

One side trip is to the museum of doors - exactly what is says it is. Free entry and all kinds of old doors, latches, hinges and other hardware. It's really interesting as we've been intrigued by the doors we've been seeing in France anyway.

In the main square, there's an outbreak of music. It seems there's a music festival in town this weekend. We see a quartet of 2 saxophones, drum, and guitar. They play "Sweet Georgia Brown" (in French of course) and a reggae tune. Oh, did I mention they are on stilts and dressed rather eclecticly to say the least. They are very entertaining and have quite a crowd watching. After a few numbers, they begin to walk up one of the small side streets and we go back to our tour.

Most of the numbered sites point out features of 13th - 17th century mansions. The tour winds us through all the twisty streets of the old city. The town is interesting and after two hours, we are only half way through the numbered sites to see. I'm tired and getting hungry. We skip a big loop of the tour that has only a few sites on it and work our way back to the car. We aren't as attentive to the descriptions of the houses and we aren't taking as many photos as earlier. The day has turned cool and grey and we decide to forgo a drink in town for aperos at home.

When we get home, the weather seems better - sunny and warm, so while Chris and I put the dinner in the oven (pork roast and baked ratatouille - a new invention that turned out pretty tasty), the guys get out aperos.

We've just about finished aperos, when the rain comes - the sky had been getting increasingly cloudy. There are even a couple rumbles of thunder. We tried to stay outside by sitting under the balcony overhang, but even that had to be forsaken. So we ate dinner in the kitchen. Still tasted pretty good.

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