Valleraugue and Bar Mitzvah
Two weeks from today, we leave for Paris (my son and I). We are re-tracing Mary Wollstonecraft’s steps in Paris (at least that is what I am doing). And Mary Shelley’s, as well. If we could afford it, we would happily retrace Mary Shelley’s steps to Switzerland and all around Lake Geneva, but that is where all tracing has to stop. From what I can figure out, Geneva is horrifically expensive, as in a lump of butter costs 200 SF, which means about 240$. Ok, so I am exaggerating, but pleasant accommodations in a good part of town — forget it. There are hotels that seem pleasant enough in remote suburbs or dicey parts of town, although it is hard for me to picture a place like Geneva having a dicey part of town, and awful cement block hotels in better locations, nearer town. My sister suggested I look at youth hostels, even though I am not a youth. They are charming, says Trip Advisor, and often have BBQ pits and outdoor showers. Fun. When I was 19, I found youth hostels alarming, filled with sturdy hiking Germans and Scandinavians. I was neither sturdy, nor much of a hiker, largely because my backpack was filled with so many books I could hardly move, let alone climb an Alp. I am not that much different now. I will have too many books and I will want to sit quietly and write and read. I will not want to have a barbeque, let alone an outdoor shower. But then I look at pictures of Montreux and Vevey and think, ah, I should just spend money on hotels and not eat for the rest of the year. Fortunately, I have some common sense left and so we will Not go to Lake Geneva, instead we will travel to see family friends in Languedoc-Roussillon. They live in Valleraugue, a town unmentioned in my guide book. Of the department in which it is located, the book says, Gard is “far off the beaten track” and “very popular with nature lovers.” I am an expert reader of guide books. Translated, this means that we are not going to a cute town. It means, in fact, that we are heading to a part of France which is not just kind of remote, but Very remote (c.f. the “far” added onto the “off the beaten track”). Further research has borne this out. Valleraugue is notable for its dramatic gorges, plunging waterfalls, our family friends, some deer, no doubt some deer ticks, and no tourists, largely because there is nothing to see but gorges and because no one can figure out how to get there. I hardly can. Anyways, Valleraugue will have to substitute for the Alps.
What I forgot to say is that we leave three days after my son’s Bar Mitzvah.