Wednesday September 23
Our first stop was the town of Les Baux and a visit to the ruins of its 10th century castle. The castle was so much more than a building. It was a walled city of 4000 inhabitants including bakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cobblers, cooks, herbalists and tailors, minstrels and troubadours, as well as knights, squires, pages, soldiers and serfs. You can see the remains of the areas in which all of these people lived and worked and imagine what life at that time must have been like. The castle’s feudal lords traced their ancestry back to Balthazar, one of the Three Wise Men. Its chapel still stands, across from a display of medieval wooden war machinery including a battering ram and a catapult.
Next, we stopped at a small town called St. Rémy for lunch. It was market day, so buying items for a picnic was an option, but Nick and I chose to eat at a small wine bar that served a large variety of wines and a small variety of foods, although no water. Nick ordered a charcuterie platter, and I a fondue. An older English couple sat at the next table. They told us of their recent serious illnesses and how they were determined to enjoy each day together as long as they possibly could. Bravo!
Soon we were back on the bus and then, back in Nice, which we had visited thirty-nine years ago. Our hotel was across from the Promenade des Anglais, a boardwalk next to the Mediterranean. We went out for an orientation walk with Toni, looking for familiar sights but finding none after all these years. Toni pointed out some potential places to have dinner. We selected one and were joined by Jane and her mother, Ruth. Our meal was not memorable, but our dinner conversation with Ruth and Jane was. How invigorating it was to enjoy the company of an 85 year-old woman, a mother of four whose life has been one adventure after another. I already told of how she got to the 1964 World’s Fair. In traveling with her late husband, they and their friends rented a barge and navigated it themselves! Ruth is determined to live each day to the fullest, traveling with her knapsack on her back, learning, exploring, and meeting new people. The word amazing is overused, but it truly applies to Ruth.