Sunday, March 04, 2007

At home in Arles

Note to readers: this post occurs out of sequence... it should have been published right after the one about Carcassonne but somehow I misplaced it in my mind. Actually if you continue reading the next post (Seeing Arles) after finsishing this one then you get things in the proper order after all...confused? Sorry.

When we finally decided on Provence as our vacation destination, Beth undertook the task of finding an apartment to rent for a week. It didn't take her too long to amass quite a list of possibilities but it was pretty easy to narrow our choices down to two or three. In the end it we chose an apartment in the oldest part of the city of Arles.

We drove through the windy streets, found the river which became our major reference point, and then finally found a parking spot a few blocks from home. We walked up a tiny street called Rue Louis Pasteur and found our apartment and our host waiting for us with the key. She told us that we were the first renters this year.

We entered the building and started up the spiral staircase. Our place was on the top floor, Tess and Colm, who have lately been intrigued with seeing how high they can count, seized upon the occasion to count the steps out loud. We arrived sixty odd steps later at our door. We went inside. It was, to say the least, very satisfactory. This would be home base for one week. By the time the week was over, the kids and Beth and I would all be calling it home. We never did arrive at a clear result for the number of steps however - so much for the idea of manual recounting.

I set up my guitar by a table near a window. By the end of the week I had pretty well learned four Jack Johnson tunes...I'm fetching up a little performance for some of my classes. (When I asked my students here who they liked to listen to his name came up as much as anyone's.)

Beth and I spent some quality time out on the terrace sipping wine or Lillet, looking out over tiled rooftops, watching birds migrate overhead, the sky a dynamic tableau over which the mistral blew clouds, misty rain, and just as often, scraped the slate clean leaving an impossibly blue sky upon which to paint a new day.
The kids slept in a loft with three single beds (and a mosquito net!). It's tricky carrying a sleeping child up the steep steps to the loft and coming down in the night time is no mean feat either but we managed the week without any mishaps. Our room was cozy and comfortable.
We ate almost all of our meals in the kitchen. Once we got Vietnamese takeout and once we bought some curry chicken from a nearby traiteur. Other than that we made our own meals...
The kids played with their toys and books and a deck of cards...war and concentration are the games of choice...I'm going to introduce checkers any day now just to break up the routine and the quarrels over who gets the jokers.

There was a small tv. The kids contented themselves the entire week with a single video (chosen over 101 Dalmations, The Lion King) which they watched almost every day. Kirikou, a French children's video set in Africa. Because it is in French we let them watch it outside of Sundays, our special movie day. Until this week Colm had never seen the end of the Kirikou because he always falls asleep but in Arles he broke through the zzz barrier and saw the whole thing. The main character is a tiny boy called Kirikou, the chorus of the theme song sums him up pretty well.
Kirikou n'est pas grand, mais il est vaillant!
Kirikou est petit mais il peut beaucoup!
(He isn't big but he is brave/he is little but he is able)

Tess loves quoting lines from the show. She goes around chanting "Malheur!" or "Le chapeau n'est pas magique!" Colm watches her intently, when his sister breaks into French like this he is always a little wary but curious too. She often enlists him acting out the story usually casting him as one of the Sorciere's fetishes. While watching the show, she delights in keeping Colm abreast of what is going on in the video.
We did leave the apartment ... more about that later.


Anonymous erin said...

The place looks and sounds wonderful! Also, FYI: Jack Johnson is my cousin. Our Grammas were sisters. He'll be thrilled when I tell him you like his music.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

hey erin! why don't you also tell him that I think he is really cute!!

12:41 AM  

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