Tuesday, September 23, 2014
23.09.2014 - 24.09.2014
Up early and checked e-mail to discover Carol Lynn and David could meet us at a café in Arles so we ate a quick breakfast, opened my presents from Ed, Jean & Peg and left for Arles. Easy trip, easy parking and we arrived in time for a hot chocolate by the magnificent Roman Arena before Carol Lynn and David got there. Since the first easel on the Van Gogh Walk is at the base of the Arena, we were in a good place to start our search.
The four of us checked all our resources. We had a book with photos of the Van Gogh paintings and a skimpy map; David had a great map marked for him by the Tourist Office and Carol Lynn had a Rick Steve’s book with descriptions and directions so, putting it all together, we set off to find the Van Gogh painting sites. We hadn’t gone 20 feet when we met a youngish couple from Connecticut doing the same thing so we showed them our book and they bought one too. We ran into them off and on all morning and we helped each other find the Van Gogh easels. It was a fun challenge. One was inside a former hospital and David knew about it and gave the other couple directions as we passed them at lunch.
Carol Lynn had heard of Cuisine de Comptoir and it sounded like a good place for a reasonably quick lunch. It is France so lunch can't be too fast. We soon found it on a side street, entered, were seated, checked the menu and all of us got tartines. For a starter, David, Carol Lynn and I got lentil soup and Ed a gazpacho. For a main, David and I got tartines of magret de canard and cantal cheese; Carol Lynn got fois gras and Ed got chicken. They were all excellent. An American couple sat next to us and the service must have seemed slow or unfair to them because they noisily got up and walked out. I think they may have been justified but also know the wait staff were all leery of them because they didn’t speak a word of French. That’s scary to waiters who have limited English. Too bad for everyone. Carol Lynn talked to them later and they had a pleasant lunch elsewhere so I guess it worked out all right for them. [Cuisine de Comptoir, 10 rue de la Liberté 13200 Arles; +33 (0)4 9096-8628; http://www.cuisinedecomptoir.com/; e-mail: email@example.com]
After lunch we continued our pursuit of Van Gogh sites until we arrived at the the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles [33 rue Docteur Fanton 13200 Arles; http://fondation-vincentvangogh-arles.org/] where we got a senior rate, and entered to explore. It was interesting but they have only one Van Gogh on loan for 50 years. In summer they get more paintings on temporary exhibit so we need to return in season some time. We explored the current exhibit and got great photos from the rooftop and returned to our search through the streets. As we searched out the final Van Gogh easel near the Rhone, we did a little shopping and I got a Provençal tablecloth to match the napkins we bought earlier. At the final easel, we walked to Monoprix and left Carol Lynn and David there so she could do some necessary shopping while Ed & I recovered our car and started the drive home.
We got home in a half hour . . . no traffic going our way! We stopped at Mas du Capoun to make a dinner reservation for my birthday dinner and discovered they are closed Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday. Oops! Drove home and iced my ankle while Ed brought in the laundry. At 7:00 we drove in to Chez Ju, our alternative choice for dinner and discovered they were fully booked. Ouch; we weren't expecting that. They had outdoor seating and it was chilly but we really had no choice. Fortunately I had a jacket and Ed said he was fine. We chose a seat along the wall beside a lot of candles on a window sill hoping they would keep us warm. It worked quite well. Our waiter was very young and trying to be the perfect Paris waiter. He was quite successful, most dignified, very correct and excellent service. We loved him. We had a kir to celebrate my aging. For dinner I got the filet mignon of porc and Ed got dorade, and both were absolutely perfect with vegetables and roasted potatoes. We each got dessert. I had a Café Liegeois with chocolate sauce and Ed got a Dame Blanche. When I ordered a coffee, our perfect Paris waiter brought out my coffee with another ice cream and a candle lit for my birthday. I managed to eat it with a little help from Ed.
It was a truly fun day and I suspect we had more fun and just as good a dinner at Chez Ju for half the price of the closed-on-Tuesday Mas du Capoun. Great birthday . . . good friends; good scenery; good times; good food.