Today is a day off, we haven’t even set an alarm. The bikes are locked in the secure hotel garage, the contents of the bags are strewn all over the hotel room and the first batch of hand wash is already drying on hangers. We roll out of bed around seven thirty and by the time we get to the breakfast room the crowds have already left. I didn’t sleep so well, but that’s okay, it should be an easy day.
We take the classic walk through town, following a map of the tourist office with a basic explanation of the landmarks. It’s a nice city, lively with wandering tourists and purposeful locals. It does have the typical French charm, in the sense that it’s just a bit shabby and disorganized, it takes a while to get used to. We see the exhibition center designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the beautiful garden of the arts museum, with a truly humongous cedar tree, the cathedral with its cloister, the mediocre city castle and the medieval Rue Colbert. At this point we realize that the predictions of rain and clouds are not coming true at all and we make a stop at the hotel to exchange rain jackets for sun glasses. We move further and see historic houses from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, all the way to the nineteenth century. We stop for a drink on the Place Plumereau: a coke for Arne – a 33 cl glass bottle of coke, don’t see those often – and a house ice tea for me, deliciously cool. We see a few trekkers while we’re sitting there, this really is the busiest trekking route I’ve ever done.
When we get sick of people we move on to the botanical garden. It might not be an official highlight of the city, but I really enjoy them and always make an effort to include them in my plans. There’s just something orderly and neat about them, the plants organized logically and labeled with their French and Latin names. Plus, we need the inspiration for our garden at home! We wander around and I take pictures of anything we might like for ourselves, I’ll look up later if it’s doable and affordable. We find a shady bench by a charming water feature and spend half an hour or so doing some designing and planning, coming up with the next goals for our garden and how to go about achieving them. When we get up and start walking it’s already two pm and we figure some lunch is in order. Fortunately, coincidentally, we then bump into a small eatery with terrace. The cook says he only has Salade Basque available, explains it’s a salad with greens, grains, tuna and grilled bell peppers, to which we reply, sounds good, point us to a table. It must be 25° C / 77° F and it’s delightful to sit in the shade in this green zone.
After the park we walk back to town and finish our tour, by the time we’re back at the hotel around four we’re ready for some air-conditioned relaxation. I do another laundry, this time using the laundry and dryer machine on our floor, I really love this style of hotel. It’s pretty expensive, but very casual. The room is very nicely decorated, the breakfast was great (I made a waffle!), but it’s obviously aimed towards a hip audience who like quality, but not pomp.
I sort the pictures, write the blog, we’ll go down to the hotel restaurant for a casual dinner.