I walked through the downtown today. Everyone was dressed like a pirate.
I must be the oldest non-baby-producing woman in this town. Seriously. It is very, very rare to see a young (like my age young) couple walking down the street without a baby or two. Tons of pregnant women, tons of very young men by themselves pushing strollers. Surely, there are some single people? Or are they all holed up in their apartments writing blogs? Oh, and I'm pretty sure those are engagement rings I've seen on some of my students. (Obviously, I'm skirting the main issue, which is that for every diamond ring, there is a French man who is not single. I'm going to need better odds here.) But anyway, maybe it's just my skewed perspective, but this is a striking trend.
This town is not as small as others I've lived in, but it does have the small town quality that I always see people I know when I go places. Mind you, I've only met about 10 people, counting only people whose names I remember. (Oh yeah, and like a gajillion students, and I never remember their names?) So it's amazing when I run into people I know. For example, at this lecture this evening I saw a good half-dozen people who I could greet by name. Amazing.
Ok, back to the pirate costumes. There's a 1720 celebration this weekend, commemorating the arrival in 1720 of the plague. The main road by the sea, where the market is, is all decked out in 18th century costume. They covered the pavement with dirt and hay, the restaurants lining the road have hay bales everywhere, there are tons and tons of people in full period dress (not just pirates), musicians strolling the streets, lots of street food (crepes and vin chaud! be still my heart!) and the usual market fare (cookies, cheese, sausages, crafts, clothing) but with a slightly 18th century feel. They may have had snake charmers, too.
It poured for two days this week (after they laid down the dirt and hay for the festival, unfortunately). After a month of lovely weather, I was incredulous to have jeans so sodden they took a full day or more to dry. The sun is back, though, don't worry.
Ice-cream. Oh my. Ice-cream. I never didn't like the stuff, but here, both my town and Marseille, the ice-cream is exceptional. Including: melon, pear, black-current, lavender-honey, and nutella. Every time I go out for ice-cream (I aim for twice a week), I can try a flavor I've never had in the US. The flavors are so elegant! There are some that are laden with candy, cookie-dough, all that good stuff, but mostly they represent one simple, beautifully executed flavor. There are actual pears in the pear ice-cream, actual honey in the lavender-honey. Except the one ice-cream stand that offers what I believe is Smurf ice-cream.
Along the same lines, I can't get over the eggplants that I've been eating. Mmm. Eggplants.
More to follow.