Saturday, August 28, 2010

France - Day One

Today is my first full day in France. I am sitting alone in the studio on the third floor of La Cascade, feeling the essence of all the students who have created art here in the past, listening to the waterfall through the window behind me and the church bells as they chime the hour and half hour, watching clouds drift across a blue sky while a plane cruises over the crest of the nearby mountain through one of the skylights above me. I cannot describe how wonderful it feels to be here at this exact moment in time, it just feels totally right.

Arrived safely yesterday after flying from Toronto to Paris and then a 2nd flight from Paris to Toulouse, then a 1.5 hour drive to Durfort. The cross-Atlantic flight was not bad in the grand scheme of things but there were lots of little annoyances that added up to a not very pleasant experience overall. Things like, my reading light turned on the light on the table of the guy next to me who slept most of the way and had already complained to the man on the other side of him that it was hard to sleep with his light on. So I wasn't able to read when I couldn't sleep. And I wasn't sleeping because people walking by in the aisle seemed to knock me often or yell out things when directly beside me that would jolt me out of a sound sleep. Then there was the unhappy, crying, whining toddler one row behind. And the lady across the aisle that seemed to think it was acceptable to take her shoes off and prop her bare feet on the armrest of the man in front of her (I did not need to be that familiar with her toes). I felt like I was travelling on an ancient plane, as they only had movie screens in the aisle every 10 rows or so and I was in row 9 so almost too fa away from the screen ahead and too close to the screen above my head. Which didn't really matter because first they showed Shrek 4, followed by The Bounty Hunter (with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, which got terrible reviews). But how 1990 is that, Air France? Where was the screen on the back of the seat in front of me with dozens of TV shows and movies to personally choose from??? Heavy sigh. It was a means to an end - that Boeing 747 may have gotten me to France but it wasn't pretty, that's all I can say.

Here's our happy group of travellers, just after we first found each other at the airport (L to R: me, Kate, Doriot, Meryl and Dawn. And our luggage, naturalement!)

Now that I am here, of course, all is wonderful and those minor irritants are quickly being erased by the wonderful sights and smells and people all around me. We had a very French dinner at a restaurant last night that was delicious, joined by our hostess, Gwen Gibson, swapping stories and making plans for how we might spend our days for the next two weeks. As soon as the meal was over, jet lag set in and we hurried home and went right to bed, in order to be up in time to go to the Saturday morning market in the nearest town at 9 this morning.

On Saturday mornings, a farmer's market takes place in the village square. While we were there, we stocked up on fresh fruit, cheeses, ham, bread (Gwen showed us "the best baker" as compared to the other "not so good" ones), roasted chicken, potatoes, olives and a few bakery treats. My first order of business was to go to the soap stall, where I had bought soap two years ago - a lovely oatmeal and lavender concoction. Three bars lasted me an entire year but I was one year overdue for a new batch! Happily, I am now stocked up for the 2010/2011 season, but I might pick up a few more bars next weekend (between us, we bought out all they had!)

We came home and made ourselves a delicious repast with all our purchases and ate outside on the terrace overlooking the waterfall, under the grapes garlands shading the table. Ah, heaven!

(photos: Dawn and Meryl serving lunch, Kate and Doriot ready to enjoy our meal)

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