Friday, June 4th 2010. The day I quoted Monty Python and the Holy Grail while on ancient ramparts in France. The day started when I boarded the tram at the Comédie and went to Port Marianne. There I met with the rest of the group as we boarded a bus to take us to Aigues-Mortes, the only port on the Mediterranean in the time of Louis IX. Louis IX, or Saint Louis, would later use Aigues-Mortes as a launching point for the Seventh and Eighth Crusades. From Port Marianne we boarded a bus for the worst bus ride of my life. When we got on the bust there was no room for any of us to sit, so sixteen of us where all standing in the middle of the bus. Over the hour and forty some minutes it took to make it through all the stops to get to Aigues-Mortes we all eventually where able to sit down.
When we arrived it was lunch time, and I was hungry. I was happy when Dr Bains told us that the program was covering lunch. Lunch consisted of either an appetizer and main dish or a main dish and dessert. I ordered an escargot and rabbit and they were both amazing. Escargot is snail that was cooked in a butter and garlic. I loved the snail but I also loved taking the bread and getting as much of the sauce as I could. The rabbit was tender and when Lindsey did not want to finish her crème brûlée, I was able to eat half of that as desert as well.
After lunch it was time to tour the ramparts of the city. We climbed towers and walked around the entire enclosed city. It was both good exercise for lunch I had just eaten and a great view. You could see out over the rampart to see the salt fields, which appeared to be massive mountains of white.
From one tower you could see over the whole city and that took me back in time. By the time we left for another excruciating bus ride, I was glad that we had visited.
On Sunday I saw Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire. As I do not have a time machine, that must mean I went to an art museum. The Fabre Museum is a large art museum near the Place de la Comédie. It had a large collection of sculptures and paintings. As the day was overcast and was actually raining as we went to the museum, it was the perfect day to go to a museum, even if it had to be an art museum. Unfortunately, it being an art museum, pictures were absolutely forbidden.
Franklin and Voltaire here among the busts that were at the museum. Franklin’s bust is that of an old man, what Franklin would have been when he visited France. He looks like the image most have seen, the hair on the top of his head is gone, but the sides of his head have long hair. His face is old, with wrinkles everywhere but there is a fullness to his face. Voltaire was old. His head had next to no hair on it. His face was tight and wrinkled and looked like he might not have been eating a lot. I always enjoy museums that have a collection of busts because then I can look in the face of historical figures who I actually know.
The sculptures were amazing. There was one of a woman wrapped in robe that made every fold of the cloth look real. My personal favorite was a sculpture of a little boy. The boy is holding a puppy up to his chest with an adult dog having her front paws on the boy’s leg, leaning in and giving the puppy a lick. I found myself staring at it for some time. I’m not sure what it was that drew me into that specific work, but I absolutely loved it.
While I enjoyed many of the paintings a few struck me as particularly memorable. One was a painting of Jesus being taken down from the cross. What struck me most about this painting is how I nearly broke out laughing when I saw the women beneath the cross. They looked deader than the Jesus did and it destroyed the impact of the painting for me. Another painting was of a church. The detail of the church amazed me, you could see the tiles all the way back into the Church easily, even in the areas where the lighting was almost non-existent. The most puzzling thing about the painting was the all of the people in it were translucent. It definitely stuck out in my mind.