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doing laundry in the sub-Alps

Yesterday afternoon I made my first visit to a Laverie. So far, since I’ve been in France (74 days already!), I’ve done all my laundry by hand. Thankfully there was another customer there who showed me how the system works, otherwise I would have had to haul everything home again, defeated by the puzzle. The method is this- on the wall in the corner of the tiny room is what looks like a typical launderette change machine, only here it is also where you punch in the code of whatever machine you want to activate and put in the money to pay for it. This goes for both washers and dryers. The Laverie is also quite the place for flirting, and after a couple of attempted wooings, I was very happy I hadn’t brought any underwear that could have fallen out of the dryer at the most inopportune moment. Keep in mind this is a very small facility with barely enough elbow room to fold your T-shirts.

Anyway, with a basket full of clean linens, and an unsolicited phone number, I headed out the door into the most dramatic electrical storm I’ve seen here, with a fairly torrential downpour of rain interspersed with slush. The Alps are very close when the Mistral decides to blow.

Speaking of the Alps, five of us from school went up in to the mountains Friday afternoon. I had been to Gourdon a few days ago, a tiny stone village perched on the tip of a mountain, but hadn’t been past where the oaks turn to scrubby pine and lentisque and the groundcover is all wild thyme and then further up wild lavandin. We went all the way to a ski hill where we found snow and had a snowball fight. The landscape up there is very dramatic, rocky and the road is a windy narrow highway. We were high up in the Sub-Alps, and at times, other than the stone farm buildings, it seemed like we could be in Canada. Along the way,  I saw a broken ancient little hamlet that I must go back to for a picnic. (During July, when the lavender is in full bloom).  Perhaps some of you will be able to join me?

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