Oh, mes amis, where to begin? While Arles was a gentle introduction to the land of Southern France, Montpellier is quite another story altogether. To disclaim: I intend to bitch mercilessly in this post. Next post will be more balanced, be assured.
Yesterday, after an epic wander (to allow our apartment hosts to fix the toilet that had gone awry?!), including a hardy dinner and much booze, we headed back to said apartment to be abused for 8 fucking hours, by the moronic "guests" of a nearby house party. You know my stance on the house party, yes?
Perhaps I should begin by advising that I chose our lodgings with the most careful detail, eschewing price and cool features for the listing omnipresence of the phrase "quartier tranquil". Non-smoking was also consideration, what with my North American propensity to judge those who mistreat others by exposing them to carcinogens.
Here's my perspective: Don't disrespect those around you. You wanna smoke, go ahead - just don't make it non-stop, @20 packs in one night (it was a large party, people) across a close courtyard. You wanna make noise - well that's where I'm going hard ass. Shut the fuck up. I do not care to listen to you drunkenly sing fucking Miley Cyrus at 4 am. Your plaintive, inebriated shrieks of ennui do not amuse me and even less so for their entitled, adolescent mien.
I swear to God, I wanted to get on the phone and call everybody's mother. And then take them all out.
Now, this would be bad enough, if not for Scott's hideous bout of emergent food poisoning (we think it was food poisoning) which worsened throughout "the night that precluded sleep". At a certain point, we had to close the windows to protect our sanity from noise and smoke, which, of course led to near heatstroke. Let me tell you, these were some delightful conditions under which to puke up one's guts (in the most visceral of ways) for 2 hours, after 5 hours of abdominal distress.
I was very worried, to understate the matter, transfixed by thoughts of how we'd get ourselves to a hospital in the wee-hours of Saturday night in an entirely Catholic country. There isn't a pharmacy open today. I couldn't help but think: Fuck. This guy is 50 years old, not some teen with a gut of iron. (Note: In all ways but the digestive, my husband is a pillar of strength and youthful vigor which is why, when it comes to the stomach, he seems like such a mess. Not to mention, that he decided (against my vehement wishes) to eat a half-roast chicken (gnawing at the bones) purchased at a kiosk at an outdoor food market, earlier in the day. FWIW, my concern was not germs, but politesse. It's gross to eat a chicken with your fingers under the aqueduct.)
(On an amusing note: At the kiosk, Scott nicely asked the rather-attractive server to cut up the chicken into small pieces, to walk with, whereupon she looked at him derisively and said: Perhaps you'd like me to eat it for you too? Ah, those cultural stereotypes die hard.)
I have to be honest, after this night from hell, my faith in a) outdoor food markets and b) the French way has been shaken. At one point Scott sick-whispered that he desperately wanted to go home. He's since revised this perspective and has even eaten a couple of pain au chocolat. But I have to say, Montpellier's charms aside, it's going to be never before book travel to this part of France again. Bad weather keeps people inside with the doors closed, thereby encouraging them to impinge only on their own life-expectancies with alcohol poisoning and second-hand smoke.
Scandinavia in December is suddenly starting to look good.