October 27 – November 1
After parking in a lot just outside the walls of Aigues-Mortes, we walked through one of the large gates that enable access to the town and began our exploration. A few blocks into our journey we hit a main square, surrounded by shops, restaurants and a small art gallery that we stopped at to view a unique photographic exhibition by a local artist.
We walked back out to the walls to inquire about taking a tour of the ramparts, but upon arrival determined that given the fairly pricey fee, we wouldn’t be able to give it the time needed to justify spending the money and thus decided to return to the main square for an afternoon coffee.
On the way there we stopped at a busy local branch of a nationwide candy shop chain, La Cure Gourmande to pick up a few sweet things to eat.
It was a little chilly out on the square and we didn’t dawdle over the coffee (hot chocolate for Joanna) and returned to the car or the drive back to the condo. After a couple of aperitif’s there (Ricard and water of course) we set off via the tram for central Montpellier and our anniversary dinner at Le Chat Perche.
We began with aperitifs to launch into our first courses. For me it was the Cromesquis de Chevre Farci (Goat Cheese Croquettes with Apricot Confit on a bed of Mesclun Lettuce and sundried tomatoes) which was as good as it sounds.
Joanna had an equally delicious Ceviche de Dorade Royale (Seabream Ceviche) with Cucumber and Red Onions.
I didn’t record Joanna’s Plat, but mine was the Filet Mignon de Porc Farci aux Pruneaux (pork tenderloin stuffed with prunes) accompanied by a port reduction and roasted pistachio chips. I’d consumed my share of pork on this trip, particularly in Spain but this treatment was exemplary.
We split a bottle of local white wine and it tied together the whole experience. After out desserts, we settled up, the bill coming to 113 euros, roughly $40 per person including the bottle of wine and the aperitifs. Who says eating well in France is an expensive proposition?
The next day we drove to our appointment with Guillaume which was an adventure in itself. It would mark our only real interaction with medical treatment of any type in Europe (outside of buying prescription eye drops on the cheap without a prescription at a Greek pharmacy). Located in an apartment complex, we had a difficult time just locating the office, which had no external signage to point us in the right direction.
Eventually finding the place, we walked into a very small waiting room/reception area without any staffing and Guillaume met us there, ushering into his combination office and treatment room. Without asking Joanna or Francois to leave, Guillaume took a look in my mouth and then pulled over the X-Ray extension, stuck a film apparatus against the affected area, held it there with his finger and shot the picture. That’s right, no lead apron for me and everyone in the room splashed with a bit of radiation.
Guillaume examined the x-ray and confirmed that there was an infection. I should continue my course of antibiotics and if need be, continue with the prescription he would write for me. This would get me through the last couple of weeks of the trip and home to where my own dentist could treat me. And the final outcome, the cost for the examination, x-ray and consultation? It was 26.8 euros or $32, not enough to bother trying to get reimbursed when I returned home.
Feeling better about my course of treatment and unexpected dose of radiation aside, we stopped at a pharmacy on the way back to the condo to pick up the antibiotic. After returning, Francois went out to run some errands while Joanna and I walked down to the Carrefour to buy ingredients for that night’s dinner, my Mom’s BBQ Meatloaf. Served with Mashed Potatoes (a must for soaking up the delicious BBQ gravy that is a byproduct of the cooking process) and a green salad, this has been my traditional birthday dinner since I was a pup. Here is the recipe:
|1 ½ Pounds Ground Beef (or beef/pork mix)||2- 8 oz. Tomato Sauce|
|½ Cup Fresh Bread Crumbs||½ Can Water|
|1 Onion, finely chopped||3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar|
|1 ½ Tsp. Salt||3 Tbsp. Vinegar|
|¼ Tsp. Pepper||2 Tbsp. Prepared Mustard|
|1 Egg||2 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce|
Mix beef, onions, crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and ½ can tomato sauce. Shape into loaf. Combine remaining tomato sauce with rest of ingredients. Pour over loaf. Bake at 350° for 1-¼ hours. Baste several times.
The next day, or last before we set out for a week in Provence, we did a day trip out to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a small village less than an hour away from Montpellier.
Situated in the narrow valley of the Gellone river where it meets the steep sided gorge of the Hérault River, it is essentially a medieval village located on the Chemin de St-Jacques (St. James’s Way) pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. As we have found, many routes in Europe eventually connect to the Camino.
When we arrived, it was a challenge to find parking as it was All Saints Day, a national holiday in France. Once parked, we walked into town, itself known as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (“The most beautiful villages of France”) designated a UNESCO World Heritages sites in 1991.
We rambled up and down the narrow streets that fan out from the main square, then back down to a café on the outskirts for a drink and small bite to eat, Joanna and I splitting a savory crepe.
It was enough to hold us over until we got back to the condo, where we made short work of the leftover meatloaf from the night before. We’d had another fun stay with Francois, particularly after the rough start related to my infected tooth and we looked forward to one more time with him after we returned from our week in Provence. As is always the case, our time in Europe, seemingly without end when we first started, was winding down and the end was in sight. We were primed to make the most of it.
La Cure Gourmande: https://curegourmande.fr/
Le Chat Perche: https://zelift.com/le-chat-perche-montpellier
All Saints Day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day