Bordeaux: I Stay to Write

I am here in the city of Bordeaux to finish my book on a fellow who lived here for thirty-six years in second half of the nineteenth century. I know no one here. This is my third visit, but this one will be my longest to date. The previous two times I spent one and then two weeks here. This time, the pleasant studio I have rented in the St Michel quarter will be my home and work space from today, June 16, until September 1. My landlady, Catherine, and her husband and son live above.  As far as I can tell, she speaks no English. We’ve been communicating well, to my surprise. One week ago in California, someone spoke to me in French and I stammered to the point of incomprehensibility. My ability to speak French to a non-native French speaker in California felt like flailing and gasping for air in the shallow end of a pool. Here, in France, thrown head-first into the deep end, I rise to the surface and swim.

On the morning of my first day, I found it easier to settle in than I expected. Perhaps it will disappoint you to know that I found the Carrefour (think Safeway), the Bio C’Bon (think Natural Food Co-op), a good bread store that I will restrict myself to visiting twice a week, a cheese shop, and a wine shop. The fridge now contains almond butter, almond milk, soy sauce, salad greens, all my day-time vegan staples at home. On weekends, the carnivore in me comes out of its lair sniffing the air for the scent of blood.

My flat stands two blocks from the Marché des Capucins, the big covered market where all the city’s chefs reputedly shop. I see nothing precious or picturesque about this quarter, which is just fine with me. My landlady characterizes it as “populaire,” “of the people,” so to the speak. Stores for African ingredients, Middle Eastern food shops that also carry Vietnamese fish sauce, Moroccan restaurants, as well as fast food joints line the main streets of this area. Closer to the historic district, I found the Librairie Mollat, a huge independent bookstore. The clerk in the wine store pointed me in the direction of the Apple Store. We take the good with the global, and savor the amply infused sense of place tasted in the bread with golden crumb I had at lunch, the butter laced with orange zest and reminiscent of the city’s favorite orange-flavored apéritif, Lillet, and the flash-fried, unshelled tiny shrimps — crevettes — I popped in my mouth.

Good start. Now to work.

 

9 thoughts on “Bordeaux: I Stay to Write

  1. Claud

    Thank you, Sal. I look forward to every morsel you care to drop from your bountiful table of experiences.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Wright

    Sounds wonderful -I hope you are productive and happy there. Wish I could have made my way from Italy for a few days, but it’s just too complicated and I’ll be ready for home when I’m done here at the end of this week.

    Reply
  3. dreamjosie

    Sounds like a great place to spend the summer. What a wonderful experience. Hope it is fruitful as well.

    Reply
  4. Lori M.

    I am so glad you will be sharing your experiences on your blog. I look forward to reading your future posts. I sure wish I could get away to come visit! Here’s to a productive and enjoyable stay!

    Reply
  5. Enid Pritikin

    sally, ha! i couldn’t figure out for the life of me what i had received until i read it, put 2 + 2 together and now know it is YOU! so glad you’re blogging again! i always enjoy hearing about your travels. xxxe.

    p.s. any news about the davis condo?

    Reply
  6. Maggie

    I have this image of a red-haired woman coming out at dusk with her nostrils twitching in the air about to lead her to the evening’s prey. Nice.

    Reply

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