Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Safe within the walls of Aigues-Mortes

One day earlier in November, Damien brought home fougasse from the grocery store, a specialty sweet "cake" made in the Aigues-Mortes region. Wikipedia says the dessert is "based on a Brioche dough, sugar, butter, and orange blossom."

When telling me about it, Damien mentioned that Aigues-Mortes wasn't far away—about a half hour—and that we could easily visit it on the weekend. Here's where it lies in comparison to Palavas:

Map of Aigues-Mortes, France to Palavas-les-Flots

We had stayed in Palavas every weekend prior to that (with one afternoon in Montpellier on Halloween) so we were both on board with going that Saturday, November 14. 

Later in the week, those plans evolved into horseback riding, which ultimately took us to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer instead of Aigues-Mortes.

We kept these plans despite the terror attacks in Paris the night before, and also ended up visiting Aigues-Mortes after riding—just as we'd originally meant to do.

I didn't know what to expect, but upon arrival it was clear that the town's draw is that it's completely walled in, from its medieval days.

Below is an overhead view of the village, which was on an informational board just outside of where we entered.

This is where we entered the town:

After looking at some art in a tiny gallery, we stopped and bought a 'lil snack from a patisserie. I got my usual treat, pain au chocolate, and Damien got a slice of the fougasse, which was way different (better) than the commercial stuff we'd had the previous week from the grocery store. You could definitely taste the orange blossom, and it was wet with butter grease. Nom nom.

It wasn't far from one wall to the other (the narrow way), so we roamed the streets inside the village walls. At street intersections, it was fun to turn and face all four directions, and be staring at a medieval wall.

We walked through two biscuit/chocolate shops (and got a free sample in each—score!), and I picked up a postcard from a tourist shop before we ended our visit.

Then we made our way back outside of the village walls, to the parking lot, and headed to Palavas.

There was a magnificent sunset when we got home. The crappy phone photo below will give you just a rough idea of what our eyes got to feast on.

As we stepped inside the apartment, leaving the sunset to disappear into darkness, the walls that had been distancing me from Friday night's terror attacks dropped.

I knew they'd be temporary, just for the afternoon, as they were not medieval walls. A medieval city needs protecting, but a modern human must let difficult feelings of loss, shock, anger, mourning, and sympathy flood in.
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