Monday, May 9, 2011 – trouble in paradise

Another gorgeous day. After a wonderful Provencal breakfast we planned our day – a trip to St. Michel near Barbentane, an impressive Church where the resident monks make Frigolet, a potent liqueur.

Our trip started off with a battle between Camilla and myself over the best route to take. As I have been over most of the roads many times, I preferred to take the familiar route. Camilla kept (politely) telling us to turn right and switch to another route, but we ignored her and were soon in the midst of pine forests. We approached the Church via a series of impressive structures representing the Stations of the Cross, then pulled up to the Church and Abbey. We parked the car in the lot and headed onto the grounds.

Everything was silent, except for the pealing of the bells at noon. No monks, no access to the Church or Abbey, nada. The grounds are pretty, so we strolled around for a bit, took a few photos and then headed back to the car to head on to Tarascon.

As we reached the car, David saw that the small window in the rear left door had been broken, and a quick perusal confirmed the car had been broken into. As we had nothing in the car except for a windbreaker and sweater in the trunk, that was all we lost, but it really put a damper on things when someone does something like that in the midst of such a special setting.

We cleaned the glass out of the back seat and headed to Barbentane, where we thought we would have lunch. Barbentane is very small and pretty, perched on top of a small bluff. David went to the police station to report the vandalism, but the police told him that the Abby was in another district and he would need to go to Tarascon to report it (which wasn’t necessary.) As there really was nothing the police could do, except have us fill out paperwork, we opted to skip that and looked for a place to eat in Barbentane. Being Monday, the only two places open were a small sidewalk cafe/bar and a “pizza-by-the-slice” spot. We opted for the former.  A helpful woman at the next table offered to translate the menu on the blackboard. David knew what all but two of the items were, and listened politely while she dispensed incorrect information about some of the food – andouilette is “sausage made of bowels,” steak hache is “raw meat with mayonnaise.” David reassured us that steak hache was cooked or ground or diced (like a minute steak) meat, and on a baguette was a “virtual” hamburger. We all opted for that while David had a salad with goat cheese. Our sandwich, salad, with frites turned out to have all of the items in the baguette – the frites, beef, and a piece of lettuce (salad?) Nonetheless, it was ok for our “after robbery” meal, and a pichet of white wine eased the pain.

After lunch it was off to Avignon in hopes that the lease agent could get the window replaced. It was the same guy we had met when we picked up our car, and though cordial, he was virtually no help, simply telling us to have our hotel call Renault Assistance.  So, it was off to St. Remy to pick up a few items for the mas, and for dinner, then home, where we found the water once more off – the fitting on the main line having again broken loose. Patrick, the caretaker, repaired the damage and we rewarded him with a few glasses of Chateau Estoublon red wine and some good conversation.

For dinner we made roasted Provencal chicken with carrots, potatoes, and onions, plus a salad. We prepped everything and popped the bird into the oven, then sat down to enjoy some wine, tapenade, and la mere Richard St. Marcellin cheese. David kept opening the oven to check on the bird, delaying the cooking time. Finally, the three of us threatened him with serious harm if he didn’t stop, and we were finally able to get dinner cooked. The meal was simple but wonderful, including impromptu dessert of breakfast pastries…

Then, to bed.

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