At my host family/landlady’s, the two of us were nervous that Ezgi, the Turkish student, age 24, would never appear so we might all miss the bus to school. But she did crawl out bleary-eyed near the end, voila. We split paths downtown at the stop Observatoire to find our schools. Mine, ILA, was a hilarious circus of staff calling us into one room for orientation,then calling a group first into one room then another as students were fairly quickly, but confusingly for  us, sorted into classes. Mine has 11 people, all over 50, all on vacation or retired. Club 50, we Are called. Like Club Med.

The instructor is one of those fine-boned French people with blue eyes that jump out of his olive skin. He is a general physical type here. It was his first day at ILA, but he is experienced and made it relaxing and fun. Lots of chat. Best way for adults to learn. My 10 classmates are from Los Angeles, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Austria, and Pittsburgh. This morning, irregular verbs, present tense. And homework tonight. Really! 

The school laid on a generous lunch of lovely pates, sliced cured sausages, four kinds of cheese, shelled walnuts, juicy dried apricots, and baskets of baguettes sliced in big chunks. I have missed the real French pate a la campagne for 40 years and slathered it on too generously. And to drink, although it was lunch time, the buffet included plenty of diverse wines, plus juices and water. New students at all levels mingled and met and munched and drank up the wine.

In the afternoon,,ILA provided a 2 1/2 hour walking tour of the historic centre, which is almost completely pedestrianized. But still, that walkability includes a million paths up the hill to the premier viewpoint, with its medieval beginnings and ancient aqueduct. We did a lot of uphill and magically very little downhill. I’m sure.

Afterward, five of Club 50’gathered in the centre of La Place de la Comedie at an expanse of outdoor tables for a cold beverage. The centre has a statue called the Three Graces…why are they always naked? The restaurant is also Les Trois Graces. People consistently arrange to meet by the statue, like we once did in Vancouver at the clock by Birks. The shade, the sights, the convivial company…we all agreed we are extremely fortunate to,have had such a day and to have such freedom.