Mas de Clairefontaine, Le Tignet, France

Having located the blue Honda, we decided to try driving it more than two blocks. So we reserved a room for tonight in a B&B 10 kilometers southwest of Grasse, which is only a 15-minute drive from Mougins, where the car was parked. Mars de Clairefontaine is an old stone house on a hillside with a little swimming pool. We found it in Michelin Charming Places to Stay: 1000 hotels and guesthouses in France for less than €80, a highly recommended guide, based on our first use of it.

We explored the oldest part of Grasse this afternoon. The cathedral, where a wedding was taking place, dates back 800 years, and the streets are narrow and ancient but filled with the usual opportunities for tourists to leave money behind. Darlene and I agreed over a dessert of bananas, ice cream and hot chocolate that watching the other people takes up about 80 percent of our attention on one of these strolling explorations of a place we’ve never been.

I like the photo, because it captures my sense of wonder at the age of the buildings in a city like Grasse, and also the fact that, even in the face of centuries of history, what I’m most drawn to are the lives of the people who are still here.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

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