European Adventure 2011 - Day Six: Montauban

Posted by Amy O. , Friday, May 13, 2011 11:40 AM

On Friday, the kind Maillards let me drive their car so I could give Patrick a tour of my beloved Montauban. We parked near the church where I used to work and first made a visit to the retirement home next door to say hello to some friends, Myriam & Rodolfo, and we also saw Jeanne, one of the residents who was dear to me – a very precious saint. Some of my older friends in France had passed on since I left in 2004 so I wasn’t entirely sure who was still – well – alive, so it was a joy and surprise to see Jeanne again. Even after all this time, she seemed to remember me.

I showed Patrick the interior of the church, which had several observable changes since I had been there last (new benches, new sliding doors, new tiling, no rails up front). Since the building had changed between Catholics and Protestants several times throughout its history, the sanctuary is a bit more ornate than the typical French protestant “temple” and thus interesting to look at.  Especially during the church services when you are just starting your language studies ;-).

One thing I was most excited to show Patrick was the one-room museum that is housed directly above the sanctuary. This room has been many things but most notably, in the 1600s, a prison for young Protestant girls that would not renounce their faith and become Catholic. It was also later a men’s prison and the walls still bear the etched names of the people they held captive.

  "Our fathers hoped in You.  They hoped and You delivered them, O God." Psalm 22:5

Then we needed lunch so we swung by one of my favorite bakeries, La Mie du Pain (which translates to “the center part of the bread” – do we have a word for this in English?). The outside is so lovely, with the dark green and the cursive.
Unfortunately, clearly possessed by some demon of very bad taste, the owners have chosen to remodel the inside, which used to look like a classic French bakery and now looks like a tragic disco. They put up some sort of puffy, glittery gold stuff all over the back and adorned other walls with large posters of naked women. But the young man at the counter, who loved to speak English, could not have been more excited to have us there. We had a nice chat with him but also remembered another rule of traveling: (or of introvert traveling, perhaps) Just because you find someone that speaks your language doesn’t mean that you have anything to talk about with them.  All the same, we enjoyed some French staples: a croque-monsieur, a quiche lorraine, and – mmmm – Orangina (et sa pulpe)!

After lunch, we strolled about the streets of Montauban, Patrick getting acquainted and me getting flooded with memories.

We also toured the Musée Ingres, which houses the works of Montauban-born painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, as well as many Montauban historical finds, dating back as far as the Gallo-Roman era. It’s so amazing to be looking at things that are that old!

 Gallo-Roman Mosaic
 Bust of Ingres
 Another Gallo-Roman Mosaic

After our tour, we settled in for a lovely evening with the Maillard family.  Laurine’s husband Jimmy and Anneline & Mathias came from Toulouse to join in the fun and we enjoyed an outdoor aperitif and wonderful meal of cheese soufflé and after-dinner fun playing bilingual MixMo (aka Speed Scrabble) and learning a new really fun game called Ligretto.

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