Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dispatch from Saint Flour d'Anglards: A Night at the Bates Hotel and the Garabit

A few weeks ago, Dolly-girl was reading me some straight-from-the that she dug up on the intertubes. “Listen up, Jack. It says here. Listen. Hotel le Panoramic. Great views, near the Garabit, just outside Saint Flour. Let’s go there instead of that joint along the road you booked us into. Jack, are you listening? You gotta help here, Jack. I’m not going to be the tour guide on this trip.” “Uh ,huh. Yep, Sounds good. Whatever you say. Book it.”

I pulled up, set the brake on the roadster, and said, “Well, this must be it. But it looks sort of closed.” I walked in, told the monsieur of the house in my best French that we had a reservation. He spoke. English. Almost perfect English. I wrapped my best French up in my bandanna and put it in my hip pocket. Sure enough, they had a room for us. In fact, I think they had about 50 rooms for us. “Our chef has the night off so I’ve booked a table for you at the Hotel Beau Site. It is run by a friend of mine. It has a very good view of the Garabit." There it was again—what the hell was this Garabit everyone was so in a hep about?

We checked in. The view was as advertised. Panoramic. We popped open a bottle of skidrow I’d picked up in Saint Flour and toasted the countryside. After a few more toasts, we headed off in the direction that M. Bates directed us, towards the Beau Site.

Well, sir, around the corner we went and we are in Saint Flour d’Anglards to tell you that the Garabit is just about the most amazing and beautiful piece of bridgework since Kendall Wood hooked 32 to 30 in my upper left. Well, I guess it’s really a viaduct, but it looked like a railroad bridge to me. Turns out that Eiffel guy who did that Tour in Paris did this one too. Sort of like the Tour on its side, I guess. Maybe that’s where he got the idea.

I took about a roll with the Kodak and then we headed off to dinner. Turns out the Beau Site was a really beau site of the Garabit and we got to enjoy it through dinner. I had the cold meatloaf appetizer—they seem to call it a charchuterie, but it tastes a lot like cold meatloaf. It was good but it could have used a squirt out of the yellow bottle. Dolly-girl had a potage de legume. I told her I thought it was a little late in the day for porridge. “Gad zooks, Jack. Potage—it’s the French word for soup. Vegetable soup I’m having.” Jeeze, I thought, no need to get your pantaloons in a knot—how many ways do you need to say “Give me a splash of yesterdays special”?

With all these new words swimming around in my head, I decided to have the truite swim on over to me. Dolly-girl told me ahead of time that trout was spelled truite so I was ready for that one. This doesn’t happen very often, but she decided to have the same thing. Ha! Here’s where being a Boy Scout turned out to be just a bit more useful than going to some fancy college and eating in a place where the only animals served are the ones that are eating the bales of cowfeed that come through the doors. When the feedbags came off, mine looked like this and her looked like that. Ha! She tried. “If I’d wanted mine to look like a cartoon fish I coulda made it look like that, but I didn’t want to…” Sure. Ha!

We finished off with some fromage which hit the spot.

We drove on back to the Bates Motel. It’s not quite fair to call it that. No one was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, but I’m pretty sure we were the only ones there…

1 comment:

Karen said...

OMG. That sounds like the perfect place and the perfect day. Wow.