Friday, September 13, 2013

Funerals, Frescoes & Fizzy Water

I laid down briefly and just smiled up at the cobwebbed beams overhead, listening to the cigalles.  This was way too delicious to sleep through.  I got up, grabbed my sketchbook and charcoal, and headed for the veranda.  Too hot.  Under the trees in the driveway--better.  I sketched while the lizards ran up and down the walls, and under my feet, until I heard the car start, and the crunch of tires on gravel.  The Bouchers were ready to roll.

First stop: figure out my train ticket back to Grenoble.  We entered picturebook Thueyts (prounounced "too-ay") and ran promptly into a funeral procession.  You haven't lived until you've encountered a funeral in a small European town.  It will grind things to a halt quicker than a New York minute.  We parked outside of the town center, with Josy berating Gilbert for driving with a broken sideview mirror, and having to walk the distance in the heat.  Then off we went to the tourist office for information.

Mostly what we learned was about who died: a state trooper, who had swerved around a truck on a curve, and been killed instantly.  Not to be callous, but a state trooper funeral in a small European town is even more problematic to getting anything done.  God rest his soul.   This breaking local news prompted another hour of conversation in the car as we watched car after car taking enormous risk to get around truck after truck, on a two-lane serpentine bordered by stone walls.  Cliffs and gorges on either side, to be sure.  With each passing car, Josy reminded Gilbert to pull more to the right, and to get that mirror fixed!  I put my faith in "you're immortal till your work is done!"

We were on our way to Nyrac-les-Bains, at the foot of a volcano, famous for its thermal baths, dating back to the Romans in 121 AD.  And a little further up the road, to Meyras, Medieval city with two chateaux, dating back to the 12th C., and its trompe l'oeil frescoes recreating life in the ancient city.

If you have 7 minutes, you may want to enjoy this virtual tour of Meyras, to see more of the frescoes.

We continued our stroll over to the local watering hole, and I do mean that quite literally, with the variety of thermal waters to be drunk in these towns.  We chose this fizzy one, which we sipped to the tune of a drunken uproar behind us.  A crowd of dreadlocked, tattooed hooligans, totally incongruous in this idyllic spot, had obviously found something a little more stiff to drink.    

And then it was time to meander back to Balou...the sun descending, the heat broken, a cousin to visit, and then of course, dinner!

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