My wish, easy enough to accomplish, amounted to following a tourist map to the corner of rue Croix Baragnon and rue des Arts in Toulouse, France. I wanted to see the oldest house in Toulouse, dating from the 14th century.
I found it and took my photos.
When I do some research online, one moment I am focussed on the project, and in another instant I am somewhere else, far away, reading material I had not originally intended to read.
It is like reading a page and forgetting what I had read, because my mind had wandered somewhere between the distance at the end of the line on the page and the beginning of the next line.
A flâneur wanders. Meanders a bit from here to there. It is not a loss of concentration; it is experiencing another new moment, possibly unrelated to the previous one. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
When visiting France, which is usually twice a year for two to three months each trip, I eat lunches in restaurants. Last winter (2016) I was on the Côte d’Azure for 90 days, and I ate lunch 89 times in restaurants.
I have eaten some very very good meals in France. I have swooned. I have eaten some terrible meals as well. I do not believe anyone who says, after visiting France, “All my meals were wonderful in France!” Nonsense.
Most of the meals I have eaten in France have been ordinary. I can say the same for the United States: I live in Portland, Oregon, a foodie city, acknowledged as such in Portland by its own citizens and by the national press that frets about such characterizations. I have eaten many many ordinary lunches and dinners in Portland. Too many.
A charge can be made, I suppose, that I am not choosing restaurants very well.
In any case, I have found what I call a ‘sweet spot” in value for restaurants; it serves as an ur-meal for later experiences. The impeccable service that the restaurant provides and the quality of the food–the flavors, the freshness of the ingredients, and the surprises–combine to make a memorable experience at an excellent price. But wait, there’s more!
“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.” ―Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on. Track usually consists of steel rails installed on sleepers/ties and ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves.” —Rail Transport
The train service in France is good, generally reliable, and cheap. I have no need for a car there when I visit. The Metro and RER in Paris and the PACA service on the Côte d’Azure will take me where I would like to go. One must wait sometimes for the train or bus to arrive; timing a trip with public transportation can sometimes be tricky; and setting a destination for a small village nestled in the mountains somewhere might be impossible without a car. However . . . the train or bus and both can add to the adventure of a trip. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
All train routes along the French Riviera between Cannes, let’s say, and Menton pass through Nice, France. A train to Grasse, the perfume capital, for example, which cuts inland at Cannes, starts in Nice. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
But wait, there’s more!
What would it be like to hang in an art museum? Imagine: suspended by nails and screws on the wall there, crucified, you listen as people come and go talking of Michelangelo.
“A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world.” –Edmond de Goncourt
I wonder if the inane comments of patrons are more often a figment of movie magic. The scene in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris comes to mind where a minor character, a know-it-all, waxes away about a painting, impressing most everyone, except our hero, who sometime earlier, had the magical opportunity to talk with the painter himself and had learned the original intent. A priceless moment it was and a wonderful and funny observation on museum commentators.
My experiences in museums are different and more common. Most patrons in a museum are quiet, worshipful. The visit is like going to church. One takes a reverential pause in front of a painting and after a suitable moment moves to the next. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
“Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration.” ―Marc Chagall
But wait, there’s more!