September 8, 2011

Installment Deux: Castle on the Rocks

So, France. I’d only ever been to Paris before this trip. I remember feeling a little disillusioned: movies had always told me Paris is a city of romance, lights, and mystery. Mysteries I found: like why Parisian shopowners would let me speak in French for all of two sentences, then randomly switch over to English themselves as if I weren’t worthy of their language and why it cost money to relieve oneself. The lights came at night, but romance was less identifiable. The only romance I saw there was tourist couples who’d been seduce there under the same Hollywood premises as I had. That aside, being abroad is magical for reasons beyond Hollywood ideals, and it wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy Paris -- I just enjoyed London more :)

Such was also true of the French countryside though. Beyond the startling stuffiness of Avignon and Arles, I found beauty, warmth, good food, and yes, a little bit of romance, in  the sleepy castle-town of Cordes.

Before everyone starts drawing conclusions about that last conjecture, allow me to illustrate my said “romance”:


This little (big) guy “took my breath away” as I came down the stairs from our room for the first time, but it was less his chivalry and more his shocking looming shadow in the window.

Gollysakes, 
I sure wish a chivalrous knight 
would climb up my golden locks 
and sweep me off my feet!

Beyond the enchanting iron men of our hotel, there was more Disney-worthy imagery to fall in love with...





This little dude was my favorite...



 



Are you getting tired of these yet? The cuteness around every corner was almost overwhelming.

The drive to Cordes was teeming with landscapes like the one below; boundless fields of sunflowers, asleep with the August heat. I’m sure July here is absolutely breathtaking. This is Van Gogh land, after all!

Some better detail:


Cordes itself looked like a storybook setting from the road on which we entered:


I’ve never been one to declare wedding colors or baby names before necessity arrives, but I’ve always dreamed of a kitchen with teal cabinets and mustard-yellow dishes to match.

as such.
 But I’m beginning to think this would be an equally nice combination. Robin’s egg blue and brick were everywhere to be seen across Cordes!

oh-la-la!
I told my Mom something along these lines and she laughed and pointed out the sign that was just to the right of the door pictured above.


Wouldn’t this be a magical place to get married? !! It’d be a convenient way to have a small wedding, too. Not everyone can hike it on a moment’s notice up to Cordes, France! But I’m getting (much too far) ahead of myself.



This was our hotel. We had some really stellar meals at this place -- so much that we didn’t seek meals anywhere else! I ate more duck than I care to think about, and Dad somehow managed to get gizzards of “various oiseaux.” He sort of joked that it was pigeon meat, but the waiter didn’t exactly affirm otherwise, and I started viewing the birds pecking about our table with more sympathy.

One of the more surprisingly delightful dishes was this “glace avec prunes” -- vanilla ice cream (custard-y enough that it wasn’t boring, like most vanilla ice cream) and a whole lot of prunes in a brandy sauce.

Mom and I took a little time to cruise the nearby shops. It’s really neat the way they have this place arranged; everything’s built into the structure of the old castle -- galleries, auditoriums, restaurants, hotels...so everywhere has a unique feel and connection to history.

Most of our time was spent with the jewelry queen of “Coup de Grace” (I wish I’d asked her name -- I need to get better about doing that), who helped us pick out earrings she thought might best suit our features. She chose out a lovely periwinkle pair that made me think of Hermione’s dress from the Yule Ball (the one in my head upon reading the book, not the lilac think in the movie) and a second glittery turquoise one that had me feeling like an Indian princess, but was fancier than I was looking for. I finally settled on these little swallows, symbolizing the freedom and elegance I hope will guide me on the rest of my adventure.


 “I think all of my earrings can be worn at anytime, anywhere!” Madamoiselle Coup de Grace assured us, and I agree. Each of her pieces were beautiful -- would I could take all of them home with me!

That was the end of our two day adventure in Cordes. I felt like quite the French queen there, and hope I can come back to visit again someday.

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