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            We split the 3.5 hour 202 mile drive though the French Riviera past Cannes and Marseilles straight to Montpellier (pronounced mont-pell-yeah not mont-peel-yer as in Vermont).  When we arrive in the city we had to drive through an Arch d´Triomphe into the old Medieval city, down tiny one-car lanes protected on each side by large granite stones (to prevent anyone from parking on the sidewalk (or anywhere for that matter)).  This is a Best Western Hotel (which are very upscale in France) in a very very old Medieval building.  We get a room on the second floor with no elevator but a window overlooking the street.  As soon as I checked in I asked the man if he would check with the Les Jardins restaurant and see if we had a chance, since Dimitrii's cell phone number I left for them stopped working the minute we left Italy.  A few minutes later he called and told us we were the luckiest people in the world because they had a seat for us at 9 PM.  Three people later told us that people wait a "lifetime” to get a table in this restaurant.  Well, lucked out again.  Taxi to the place and are seated for a magnificent French haute cuisine dining experience.  Again I succeeded in getting a fabulous local red wine which was the cheapest one on the menu (but this time it was $40).  After this dinner and the Chanticleer the last night, we were thinking McDonald’s for tomorrow.  The food is fabulous but you can’t eat like this every night.

A cab back and then to bed, but because I left the window open to get some air, the noise in the street kept Marcia up the whole night. I didn't hear a thing.  The next morning was Sunday, so I went for my run early which was lucky because it was cool then but very hot later on.  After the run I accidentally stumbled into the ancient Cathedral of St. Peter and attended Mass in French.  I brought my English version with me so it wasn’t a total miss.  On Sunday almost EVERYthing is closed but got a nice cappuccino in the public square.  We have no idea where we are going today or where we will stay.  Our hope was to stop somewhere along the beach on Costa Brava in Spain before arriving in Barcelona to meet Dr. Hoyos.  I called Irene (pronounced eye-ray-neh) who is the CIBA Vision representative for all of Spain.  Dimitrii told me she would help us with getting a room.  She told me she would do her best and called me back this morning to tell me she got a special room at the Parador at Aiguablave.  The Paradores are state-run hotels throughout Spain that are about the best accommodations there are and they are usually in spectacular settings or in castles or medieval buildings.  “The man responsible for Spain’s parador system was the Marqués de la Vega-Inclán.  A century or so ago, when there was scarce interest in the country’s architectural heritage, the marquis was a force in the restoration of Seville’s Jewish quarter.  In the late 1920’s he built the first state-operated parador, modeled on a Castilian hunting lodge.  Vega-Inclán’s heirs expanded the concept, carrying it to an entire network of threatened historic buildings.  The groups logo is a pediment, which turns up even on sugar packets and can be read, teasingly, as a crown.” [Christopher Petkansas, Spain Attractions, Travel + Leisure 32 (3):122, Mar 2002]

We then went through the little adventure of getting the BMW out of the locked garage that is totally closed on Sunday.  The card worked and we got out and were on our way.  After Marcia had lunch and I a second cappuccino, we drove out of Montpellier with fond memories, full stomachs and an eagerness to finally enter Spain, where we have never been before.  Adios to Aurevoir.

 

KJH                                                                                             Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #10 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

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Montpellier, France

Sent 8-8-01

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© Copyright 2010    Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD