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a perfect day in the Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A quick post – it’s 9.30 and I’m in bed, I think jet lag finally hit tonight. Or maybe it’s daylight savings time which just arrived here or the sun. In any case, I’m woozy.

But today was sublime; I am such a lucky woman. I mentioned to Denis that I’d loved the doc The Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the Chauvet paleolithic cave drawings, that I’d actually seen the cave at Lascaux as a young child on a visit to France with my parents; and Denis discovered that the replica of the Chauvet cave they’ve created so people can visit without damaging the art is a two-hour drive away. He booked our tickets, and we were off at 10 a.m. He had of course also found a well-reviewed little restaurant nearby, so we arrived at noon and had lunch first. Outside in the sun. On March 31. Yes, I know it snowed in Toronto today. I’m so sorry to hear that.

Our hors d’oeuvre – warm chèvre in a sauce of bacon (lardons) and cream. To die for.

I had aioli – a dish of steamed vegetables and fish that you cover with a thick garlic mayonnaise. With  the first rosé of the year. Divine. It could not have been nicer, the ambience, the food, everything. People kept arriving with their dogs and sitting outside – by the time we left, there were about 8 dogs. Ah, France.

And then we headed to the Chauvet replica, where we were part of a timed tour. It’s an extraordinary experience, unforgettable. What you see inside they call “the first human masterpiece” – cave drawings 36000 years old, magnificent drawings of animals – cave bears, reindeer, lions, drawn on the walls largely with charcoal. They have reproduced the layout of the cave, stalagmites and tites and low ceilings and undulating pits and paths, and the drawings exactly, apparently. It was particularly moving for me – because this was the first form of storytelling and memoir: I was here, and this is what I saw! The artistry is stunning, especially when you imagine how dark it must have been deep inside, lit only by torchlight.

We were not allowed to photograph. I just took one shot of Madame Blin in the gallery afterward where they showed us some of the animals. Look up Chauvet cave or the film to find out more and see the art for yourself.

We drove home late afternoon, still in the hot sun, through the winding mountain roads, passing the magnificent Pont d’Arc, a natural bridge formation.

The trees are just starting to bloom here, the bright magenta redbuds are everywhere and delicate green glowing on branches. Beauty for a Canadian hungry for colour.

Throughout, incidentally, I was receiving texts from the house about various tenants coming and going.

Home by 7 after a day of superb driving and shepherding by M. Blin, a simple dinner of salad, ham, and Cotes de Rhone, and I left for my little hotel room. Where my cell rang; it was my first cousin once removed Rob, whom I’ve met twice, calling from Virginia. His mother Caryl is the last remaining grandchild of Jacob Gordin, Rob’s and my great-grandfather the playwright, the Jewish Shakespeare. Rob called to say he and his cousins had been to see one of Gordin’s plays produced in Washington and loved it. He was ecstatic and wants us to meet again.

What a treat, on top of this delicious day.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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