Bridges & Bruno

There’s a landmark (medieval) bridge in Avignon.

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It’s called, Pont Saint-Benezet.  It costs 5 Euros to visit.  I asked if I could look around with Bruno if he was carried in his bag.

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Oui, oui.  Pas de problème!

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There is a little chapel on the bridge.  The river looks wonderful.

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I’m so glad we came.

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There is nothing fancy about the bridge.  It no longer even links both banks.  And yet something about its spartan nature, is touching.

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The bridge will still be here, when I am gone.

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***

I didn’t begin life, a Francophile.  My mom is unabashedly one.  At school, she wanted me to study French.  All I wanted was to study dance.  It was dance that introduced me superficially to French culture, because ballet is in a sense, a European cultural dance, codified in the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV.  While at dance, I finally had a chance to visit Paris.  But it was Bruno who really bridged an understanding of French culture for me.

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Bruno the unfriendly, separation anxiety-filled dog, is Mr Popular here.

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The French not a loud, exuberant sort of people, don’t seem to expect a bouncing, please-rub-my-belly, please-can-we-be-forever-friends type of dog.  Bruno in return, seems to understand that his aloof self is appreciated.  Along with all the attention, Bruno attracts much kindness.

As with previous trips, everyone speaks to us in French, then English, when they realise how lacking I am. I was confused at Gare de Lyon yesterday.  TGV staff smiled at me, pointed out the correct hall, and a young woman waited with me, until my platform for departure was announced.  She showed me where to go, reminding me to validate my ticket.  She kept apologising for not speaking any English; I kept apologising for not speaking any French.  Pardon, pardon, pardon.  Merci, merci, merci.

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On the TGV, the French are so similar to the Japanese- discreet, quiet, and considerate.  An elderly gentleman traveling with his wife admired Bruno and wished us a pleasant journey.  At Avignon TGV Station, someone directed me to the taxi stand, and because I attempted (atrocious) French with the taxi driver, Bonjour Monsieur, er… un taxi, Avignon sil vows plait (Hello Mr, er… one taxi, Avignon please), mon chien dans le sac (my dog in the bag), quel est le prix pour taxi (what is the price for taxi); the taxi driver turned his meter on, apologised for his complete lack of English, drove us swiftly to our hotel.

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Merci, merci, merci.

“Votre chien est blahblahblahblahblah,” A French woman beamed at me.

Desole, je ne comprends pas.  Sorry, I don’t understand.

“Your dog is… ” She tried again.  “Very well-educated.”

She said, what?  -Dr Chan

I think she meant that he is well-behaved…  Because after that, she asked me to take her dogs and educate them.

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***

Sur le pont d’Avignon, (on thé bridge of Avignon), stands my well-educated dog, linking me to the heart of all things, French.

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  •  Pont Saint-Benezet Pont d’Avignon, Boulevard de la Ligne, 84000 Avignon

 

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