The news tonight is saying the Clermont-Ferrand tested as the second-most intelligent city in France (after Lille) according to an unscientific British survey. They interviewed some people in the street, and some old lady said, “Well, I read. I play Nintendo!” Also they’re profiling a “snowscoot.” It’s a scooter with snowboards for wheels. And the oldest woman in France turned 113. She does not look good. Sarkozy wants 25,000 illegal immigrants deported but there haven’t been enough lately so there’s a little crisis. The town where the Marquis de LaFayette was born celebrated his birthday by getting dressed in period costumes. And some dude sits on hills in the region with a radio and tracks thunderstorms – specifically the lightning. France is silly.
Today was adventure day – the day to do things outside of Clermont in order to find other things. First idea was to find the Museum of Resistance and Deportation and Internment in one of the “suburbs” called Chamalieres. Chamalieres was a delightful little bourg with a lively Saturday market, a very pretty church, and generally cute and sweet. I found the museum with little difficulty. However the door was locked. The lights were on. I called and the call was ended. Very confusing. I realize it’s Saturday of New Year’s weekend, but…I was very confused. And disappointed. So I took pretty pictures of the inside of the church and the park.
Then I went back to Clermont to look for some place nice to eat lunch. I found a chain restaurant called Garden Ice Café (real French, guys) and ordered a steak with a “blue cheese” sauce. It was ok. But I enjoyed sitting and eating a real meal instead of silly sandwiches.
Then I went to another “suburb” called Montferrand. This is where the big Michelin factory is. They don’t give tours. But I went to see the fine arts museum! It started with seventh century art and moved up through the centuries. I truly enjoyed the art. There was a series of twelve huge paintings illustrating the Song of Roland, maybe the first example of French literature. I really liked that. Also religious art is fascinating. There was a book in the giftshop about Christian (ok Catholic) saints and how they are portrayed in art and I would have bought it except it was super heavy and super expensive. However, throughout the regular collections was this temporary exposition of commentaries and double-entendres and parallelisms to current events that was just really sophomoric and silly. I really disliked it and said so in the guestbook. Leave me my seventeenth century portraits without the supposedly “deep” connections to today. It wasn’t art; it was a series of complaints. It interrupted (I totally spelled that in French first) and distracted from the permanent collection which was well organized, well grouped, and well explained. Someone had obviously done a lot of work to put together this exhibit and it was just spoiled with the little cartoons commenting on the paintings and sculptures.
When I was finished with the museum, I had two options: go back to the hotel or find the botanical gardens. It was threatening rain, it was already 3:30pm, and I wasn’t really looking forward to figuring out an area that just didn’t look very inviting. So I went back.
Tomorrow I’m going to McDonald’s to drink a cup of coffee and mooch off their wifi, go to Lyon, and find something cute to eat for dinner. That’s the plan. Go me! I can’t wait to meet Shannon and Mira…I really am at the point where I need a travel buddy. I’m tired of being by myself!
Also I think there’s stand-up comedy on TV hosted by the actor who played the retarded guy in Amelie. In French même! Who woulda thunk.