Thursday, March 27, 2003

From Provence

This trip I'm staying in Mougins - the ancient, mountaintop village that overlooks Cannes. It was a beautiful spring morning, and I started the day with a walk. The streets, lit by copper-hooded lamps, are so narrow that only one car can pass, almost touching the walls on either side. A little further up toward the center of the village, a car can't even fit - just motorbikes. The buildings are many hundreds of years old - tiny houses not more than 15 feet wide, built of either stone and mortar, or stucco frescoed in "couleurs Provencal." Every window has weatherbeaten wooden shutters, and foliage spills out of terra cotta flowerpots clinging all the way up the sides of the buildings. Many of the houses have been converted to art galleries. It's a magical place to walk and browse, with smell of lavender rising and mourning doves cooing in the gnarled branches overhead.

I turned one corner and came across a paticularly charming stone house. As is the custom here, the street number was hand-painted on a porcelain plaque next to the front door. This particular house also displayed a second plaque with small, neat letters that read "Chien Lunatique"....the most delicate, tasteful "Beware of Dog" sign I've ever seen!

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