France, the second day

It was another gorgeous day in the south of France, not as hot as before, a beautiful breeze, clear skies, and lots of food to eat and classic French scenes to see.

On our way to the weekly market in the center of the city, we stopped at the Montpellier zoo for an hour. It is simple to do, as the zoo is free. Sadly the morning began with two skinned knees on Edith which colored the rest of her day. I can’t blame her, as she fell onto those rocks with great gusto.

The Montpellier market is at the base of a Roman aqueduct that runs through the city. It is quite a striking place, and again, a detail that must be barely noticed by the locals. Imagine living somewhere that this is normal!

The market itself, as one can imagine, was full of beautiful fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, meats, olives, and flowers. The children enjoyed some perfect brioche, tearing off large chunks of it as we strolled. I love that experience: buying a loaf of bread and tearing off portions.

Axelle got some delicious paella for lunch, one of those dishes that will forever remind me of my grandmother and my own mother.

We ate like royalty at lunch, although somehow this was a normal sort of meal in France. Paella, four different kinds of cheese from the market, baguette, fresh fruit, and a magical lemon tart.

After naptime, the children thoroughly enjoyed time in the pool, so much so that Edith never wanted to get out.

This evening, the neighborhood was having their “block party,” which mostly consisted of a lot of food and French karaoke. As well as a boccee tournament where I got a kick out of watching the men get out the tape measure every time.

Again, we had such simple but beautiful food, finished, of course, with cheese and fresh fruit and then an amazing tiramisu. I have had a few good laughs thinking about and explaining to our friends what the block party on our street in South Bend is like every summer, compared to theirs. Burgers, macaroni and cheese, beans, bouncy houses, a “band” in the middle of the street… As I sat tonight, sipping wine and eating Brie, I was struck by how different but how beautifully similar the two parties really are. They are both neighbors, trying to build friendship, establish a connection, and enjoy the good things of life together. I wish that one day we could have a merger of these two block parties.

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