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2017-06-14 / Columnists

Just Bill

On the Road Again, Looking for Bardot
Musings from the Mind of Bill Diem

We combined a very French country vacation with an American one. The French thing is to be with several couples in someone’s country house. We did two on the same road trip, with a third stop at our niece Chloe’s town of Limoges so we could see her contributions in an exposition of art.

First stop was in Le Lot, a part of France that is a lot like the U.P. Our friends Michel and Moki have made a habit of inviting us with four other couples to parties here. It was Michel’s uncle’s farm, and the barn is now the main house.

The excuse for a party was that Aziz turned 70. He got presents, we played games and a bunch of us took a little side trip to Lascaux, where France has made a wonderful reproduction of a cave full of paintings by Cro-Magnon artists. The original cave is too fragile to have tourists inside, but the facsimile feels real.

The birthday banquet was a leg and shoulder of lamb, cooked in an ancient stone oven in which Michel built a wood fire, and when the stones were hot, he pushed the coals to the back and added the lamb.

Then we went to the Mediterranean coast, invited by Philippe and Beth to spend a few days next to Saint- Tropez. We were tourists in two medieval villages on the top of hills, where the people could see the Maure pirates coming. The last line of defense was the windowless church with its crenellations on the bell tower from which the defenders could sling rocks and arrows.

Saint-Tropez itself is luxury. Giant yachts fill the harbor, coming from tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Jimmy Choo has a shoe store here. And this is the town of Brigitte Bardot, the sexy actress of the ’50s and ’60s who later became a defender of animal rights. Philippe tried to drive me to Bardot’s house on the shore, but we got lost among all the private domaines and decided not to waste more time on her.

It was okay for me to look at all that wealth and not be jealous, but we had more fun that night in Philippe’s village where a lady sang to karaoke tracks, and it was so good that we all danced. Almost everyone in that bar was retired, and the music was a mix of American and French hits of the “Rock Around the Clock” era .

On the way back to Paris we stopped for two nights at Limoges, the porcelain capital of France. Chloe has some nice porcelain sculptures in a show with several colleagues. They had all gone to China together last year to the town where porcelain was first invented.

We spent about 24 hours in the car. On the road.

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