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Message From Europe, The Second:

We went to the ruined medieval fortress of Les Baux, near the town of Arles. Interesting stuff. It was this great fortress on a stone spire. Fantastic defenses. Whenever any hothead got it into his head to rebel against the royals, he would go there, move in, put up a spirited defense, fail, and get executed.

All this, of course, was a constant irritation to the locals, who just wanted to be left alone to make olive oil and be French. So, eventually, they said to the king that, if he spared them and was nice to them, they would blow up the place themselves. It was a good deal all around.

The top was unbelievably windy and unpleasant. If I lived there, I'd blow the place up myself.

We also went to a really snooty Provencal restaurant. First, they started us off with an olive and anchovy tapenade, which was better than you might think.

Then Mariann ordered something which, well, the menu was completely in French and impenetrable. But she was sure that it involved veal. So she ordered it and the waiter gently informed her that it was kidneys. Jeff made a nasty face at that, but Mariann was game.

So Jeff ordered something which, he was sure, was beef. The waiter gently informed him that the beef was raw. Now, after making a face at the kidneys, he really didn't want the guy to think that he was some kind of food pussy. So he got it.

Everything was great. Except Jeff didn't like the kidneys, which tasted to him like a body part the animal would use to make pee.

Arrived at Nice on Friday. It's a town in the French Riviera, right where the mountains meet the sea. It's where all the skinny Eurotrash come to get skin cancer and be fabulous. Even by French standards, the food is amazing.

For the most part. Last night we ate in a restaurant which, while worthwhile in many ways, had terrible bread. So the quest to find bad French bread was successfully completed.

And before you ask, no. The restaurant wasn't a tourist trap. The place was crammed with French people. So go figure.

Went to the beach and sunbathed a little. On the good side, yes, plenty of topless women. On the bad side, we had to bite our lips to keep from shouting "Put yer' shirt back on, grandma."

Now, we don't want to be ageist or perpetuate an unhealthy body aesthetic, but, well, Eww.

Also, we had a lot of socca. It's served by this middle-aged, local institution named Therese. "Institution" translates to "She can treat you like crap, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it." It's a thick buckwheat crepe, served in thin strips, with a faint taste of bouillon and lots of pepper. Magnifique.

In closing, we just sat at a cafe for a while, watching two young, cute, female street performers tap dancing in front of a centuries old cathedral. The juxtaposition might have been intriguing, if it hadn't caused us both to completely lose our minds.

Oh, and our cheap hotel room smells like pee.

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