Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cats and catfish

Viviers was today's focus, a little mediaeval town on the side of a hill below a twelfth-century castle and cathedral. We wandered along an avenue lined with savagely-pruned plane trees from the river bank where the boat was moored up into the town which was totally deserted, if you don't count all the cats and the one drunk in the town square ineffectually kicking at them as they sauntered nonchalantly past him.

It was all narrow, narrow lanes and washing hung outside windows, cobbles and drains, no-exit impasses and old-fashioned street lamps as we wended our way up to the cathedral where we listened to the organ which began with some dreary religious music but ended with a crowd-pleasing William Tell overture. From the square outside there was an excellent view over the jumble of pantiled roofs, each with its satellite dish, and the river and snowy Alpes beyond, with in the mid-distance the nuclear power station which was where all the townspeople were, working - there, or in nearby Montelimar, stirring nougat.

We went past several other reactors further up the river, all belching steam from the cooling towers that look so sinister to our nuclear-free Kiwi eyes, even when disguised with an innocuous painting of a boy playing with a shell. Laurant, our cruise director, chose that moment to tell us about the giant catfish that live in the river, almost two metres long. I wonder if they have three eyes?

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