Saturday, October 20, 2012

Early Fall Miettes

Just a few items here, because I'm in sort of a time crunch.

First, I took a couple of American tourists on my famous Languedoc's Greatest Hits tour, the one that hits Sommières, goes between Pic St. Loup and l'Hortus, up to St. Martin de Londres, the Pont du Diable, and St. Guilhem le Désert, and finished up, as I did a couple of months ago, in St. Saturnin so they could do some wine-tasting. We got there kind of late, were very happy to see that Mme Cabanes was still open at Domaine d'Archimbault, decided to skip Virgile Joly, and went over to the cave cooperative of the St. Saturnin wine collective, which was still open. The young woman in there was looking at the skies with some trepidation, but was happy to practice her English on the tourists. We obviously did things in the wrong order, because nothing she poured was anything near as good as Mme Cabanes has, but she did offer two interesting bits of lore. "It's difficult doing a tasting when the weather's like this," she said. "The air is thick, heavy, and it will probably rain. The wines never taste at their best when it's like this." In fact, I'd already noticed this over at Domaine D'Archimbault: there was a kind of mugginess that hadn't been there last time. "The other time you should never taste wine," she continued, "is during the harvest. That's even worse than now; some of the wines can actually taste bad. I have no idea why this is, but it's true." She assured us that the cave cooperative was finished with their harvest, though.

Incidentally, if you're visiting Montpellier and would like to take a day to do this tour, don't hesitate to ask. I love getting out of town, and the route of this tour is pretty flexible, which means there are lots of other possibilities of things to see.

* * * 

I got an e-mail the other day from a woman named Marielle Lopez, informing me that she had opened a shop selling Mexican handicrafts and art objects not far from my house, and that starting Friday, she'd have a Dia de los Muertos display there, and would I be kind enough to tell the other Americans in town about it? Sure, I said, be happy to put it on my blog. So yesterday, after I did some other stuff, I wandered over with my camera. The place was locked up tight and there was a sign in the window saying that it was closed for the day. Okay, I said, I'd go back tomorrow. And I did, about an hour ago, and the place was still locked up, although there was a woman in there looking at fabric samples. She was ignoring me, so I shrugged and walked away. As I made my way up the hill, though, I ran into a couple of people I knew, Claude and Florence. Florence, way back at the start of this blog, was featured for her unusual art which takes its inspiration from Mexican calaveras, where skeletons take the parts that people take, a big part of the Day of the Dead tradition. I mentioned that it was the second day in a row I'd found the place closed, and it turned out that they were on their way there to finish the window display, which was the Dia de los Muertos altar. Ms. Lopez, apparently, had just had a baby, which wasn't supposed to be due until November 10, but came last night instead. 

So I caught up with Claude and Florence, and took some pictures. Kind of hard to get the window, both because it wasn't finished and because there wasn't much room. 

There are other calaveras scattered around -- a nice display of Mexican folk art -- as well as some lucha libre guys. 

And, for that Franco-Mexican touch, some of Florence's pieces, although not as cool as the ones she had at her gallery show. 

All in all a nice little show, so if you're over on the other side of the hill from me, stop in and take a look: Modarte, 15 rue Pila St. Gely, 34000 Montpellier.

* * * 

Meanwhile, Monday morning I'm headed to Barcelona for the day, and Tuesday morning I'm flying off for a week in San Francisco for reasons I can't divulge at this time. I'll fly back into Barcelona on Halloween, and return here the next evening. An unexpected break, visits with friends in San Francisco, Petlauma, and Berkeley, some Chinese food I don't have to cook myself, and who knows what other adventures await. More, perhaps, from the road, or, for sure, when I return. 


  1. Well. Your arrival in the Bay Area hits that sweet spot in between the harvests (there are a few scattered late harvests) and the start of the rainy season--great timing! Hope you get some decent tasting wine while you're there.

  2. A pleasure to stumble upon your blog. I am in Montpellier with my wife and infant son for the month and found some great information. Then it was an additional pleasure to find out who you are and to realize that I've stumbled across your music criticism before.

  3. Hey, if you're still around when I get back in early November, I'd love to say hi.


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