It is hard to believe that we only have one more week in France. Right now I am on a train headed to Paris, sitting with six other Aggies. Some are sleeping and others, like myself, are wishing they could sleep, which has been a recurring scene this week. We covered many miles around southern France this week in a rental car that had seven seats exactly...but unlike the United States, a seven seater does not have the leg room of a Suburban. But shoulder to shoulder and knee to chin, we trekked over and around the green French country hills. We saw chateaus, caves, and various other facilities, but my two favorites of the week were Roquefort Cave and Montsegur Castle.
Roquefort is a town built around the production of their famous Roquefort cheese. It spends about two weeks in the actual cave, maturing with the help of a fungus to give it a specific and renowned taste. So far, the simplest way I have found to describe the difference in how cheese tastes here is to say that they are strong. There are probably so many different elements to assess, but I feel like this sums them up. Cheese and bread are staple food items in France, and they are even offered as a substitute for dessert at the end of meals. Since I arrived, it seems to me that the goal of everything is simplicity, not necessarily the simplest way to do something but definitely the more natural way to doing things. And this goes right down to the style of food they have. Bread and cheese are as old as time it seems, and yet it is something France takes pride in and makes extraordinary. Simplicity with some integrity mixed in is truly the best way to make something beautiful.
If anyone ever asks me if I have toured all of France, I will have to say “no,” but if anyone ever asks if I have ever seen all of it, I believe I can say “yes.” The view from Montsegur was breathtaking. You could see villages nestled within valleys, winding rivers, and billions of trees. And I have to say I am a little envious of the people who lived there so many years ago. They got to wake up and see that everyday...they also had to climb up to it, but I would do that hike five times a day for that view.
I am learning, especially through what we saw this week, that people are incredibly smart. And I know that sounds silly because yes we all use our brains and have since time began, but looking at all of the architecture here and the tools developed, it is inspiring to see our capabilities. I am in awe of what the human mind can imagine and what the human body can build. Next stop, Paris!