Bonneval-sur-Arc, France, July 15, 2016—
WHAT A HILARIOUS dinner tonight! every restaurant was packed, even the most informal. Nothing for it but to eat out of the grocery store. But we have a couple of first-class chefs among us, so that shouldn't be hard.
Kees found a grocery store; it promised to stay open until seven. He ran into a woman we'd met a few days earlier: she was eating in a restaurant, but her gite had a self-cater kitchen she could use.
We looked for it in her gite but could find no one to allow us to use it. Leaving the gite we noticed a farmer adding oil to his tractor looking at us oddly. Are you the owner of the gite? Yes, what can I do for you? Can we use the kitchen? Well, are you staying there? No, but a friend is, and she's not using the kitchen, may we use it in her place? Well, all right, just leave it clean…
We rush back to the grocery store, which is of course locked up tight as a tick. I can't understand it, Kees says, I'm sure she promised…
I notice a guy watering flowers outside the store. Is this you store? Yes, why? Well, could you open it for just a few minutes, so we can buy some things?
He calls his wife, who opens the shop. A jar of nettle soup. Another jar of sausage in vegetables. A bottle of wine. Some terrine. Have you any bread? Sorry, no, you have to go to the boulangerie; it's closed.
Kees: Well, our hotel will have a loaf of bread. He goes in to ask for it, and is denied. He gets really angry. You cannot deny us bread, he says; you are a hotel; we are your guests; your town is built on hospitality and tourism; you canNOT deny us bread. They finally, grudgingly, give him a loaf.
We go back to the gite. The kitchen is locked tight as a tick. We despair. Outside, three women drive up in a car. Do you have something to do with this gite? Conversation and explanations ensue. The agent is summoned. The kitchen is opened. Kees gets to work. We eat and leave the kitchen clean.