We were arguing politics with a decidedly right-leaning antiques dealer when I noticed that the lights in the rest of the hall had gone out. Monsieur's wife was waiting by with a twinge of impatience in her upper lip. Closing time had come and gone. With a forced laugh I barked out, "If you gentlemen continue any longer, I will have to take a nap on your Louis XVI settee!" That worked and I saw the inner churnings as Remi, my dear companion, silently conceded that we would have to return another day to finish the conversation.
As we let ourselves out, we passed amongst so many bijous of antiques, sitting quietly in the dark, waiting to catch an admirer's attention. How I wished that I could transform into Audrey Hepburn in "How to Steal a Million" for ah, she would be tempted. But of course, I could not.
We stumbled past the Napoleon III desks and out the dimly lit back exit to find the sky had matched our moods and turned to gray.
But oh, what a wonderful mix of a mist we found ourselves in.
A bit of a wonderland. The gardens of le jardin du quai, one of the most romantic restaurants in all of Provence, to be precise.
Because of the rain, the garden was closed. We were alone and made ourselves at home because it was easy to do.
The flowers said, "Welcome." They know their job.
As we would soon be heading up into the hills to our mazet rental in a land without internet reception, Remi sat at a table and languidly charged his messages from a world that seemed si lointain even though Arles is only little over an hour away.
I wandered, camera in hand but it was almost like an afterthought, just a way of confirming with an inner nod, "Yes, I am seeing this. Pinch me, it is real." After nine years of living in this region, may I never lose sight of that instinctive hope.
I took my time.
And it was funny because none of the antiques that were for sale had moved me anywhere near what the living version of all that style and grace did in this garden.
I know and knew that it was created for effect but it was still a bit of living history...
...and all the more beautiful as we were the only ones there to appreciate it.
Some of the evening's kitchen crew snaked past to the back door of the kitchen. One of the young women, seeing my wonder, nodded at me and smiled with acknowledgement and pride.
Le jardin du quai
91 Avenue Julien Guigne
84800 L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Tel.: 04 90 20 14 98
Is it odd to write about a restaurant where you haven't eaten? Maybe. But then again, how many have made me dream as much? Not many. So take a seat, my friends, there actually is a second act to this number and no food is involved...
Thank you for being here, thank you for reading Lost in Arles...