Saturday, July 24, 2010

Two men went to Pau, two men and their dog, Munson

Château de Pau

Today was our leaving of Condom and Peter’s generous hosting to forge south to our temporary home in the Haut-Garonne. We made a small westerly diversion to Pau to drop Peter off for a weekend excursion, and to have a quick snoop around the city.

One of Pau’s most famous exports was Jean Bernadotte, born in 1763. He rose from the rank of private through Napoleon’s army to posts of Minister of War, and a Marshall of the Empire. In 1810 he was offered the Swedish throne, and by 1818 was king of both Sweden and Norway, styled Charles XIV John.

dejected Munson surveys the Pyrenees

Following a walk up the Boulevard des Pyrénées, linking the Château de Pau with the parc du Beaumont, we settled into lunch in a large tree-edged square. A waiter quickly brought out a portable drinking fountain for Munson, “first the dog, then the master”. An accordioniste arrived to hound the diners with his version of the Anniversary Waltz (of which I have unfond memories from my visit to Ljubljana). Munson wasn’t quite sure what to make of this racket, and after staring at the roving busker, began to “have words”with him and his infernal machine. I think most of the diners found this much more interesting than the musical offering, with smirks and snickers all around.

drinking fountain Tour de diorama

Near our table was a large outdoor diorama of the Tour de France which had passed through here only days earlier. The pile of rocks in the lower left is the Pyrénées, with the Arc de Triomph signifying Paris. I think that the statue looking over it is Jean Bernadotte.

Leaving Peter at the Place Verdun, we drove eastward via Tarbes, until our highway turnoff. The first village we entered appeared to have a traffic snarl. I attempted to drive around it but was plunged into a queue of wildly-honking vehicles. At that point I realised that we’d gate-crashed a wedding procession as it left the church. This procession escorted us up into the hills for a while before we finally parted ways and we could enjoy the scenery quietly and find our village.

I’d made the mistake of not getting full instructions from Brent and Jean as to where they were located in the village, as the street address wasn’t really of much use. After asking at both ends of the village for the location of les Américains et ses trois enfants, I finally found them as promised après les vaches (after the field of cows).

I finally unbundled all my luggage into our new lodgings, immediately adjacent to Américains and we were introduced to Munson’s new playmates: Tosca, a seven-year old retriever, and eight-month old Smeggs (as in “I’ll have smeggs for breakfast”). Smeggs, a local bergère or sheepmutt, followed Munson around for a while making noisy claims, but Munson ignored her, a strategy which has proved to make him irresistible to her.

1 comment:

  1. To this day, the Swedish royal family has the rather un-Swedish name of Bernadotte.