Water. It has informed much of my experience here in Vichy, whether I’m swimming or filling up endless bottles from the nearby tap, quickly retrieving laundry from the line when rain and thunder are imminent or drinking freshly sprung Célestins water in the Hall des Sources. Which would be just the thing right now, with the much lower evening temperature still being in the high 20s (Celsius) — a thirsty state of affairs when combined with high humidity levels.
Unfortunately, the walk into town is about 40 minutes, a walk we often embark upon happily, but as the time for cooking approaches so the quest for water must be diverted to our cool box which houses a couple of bottles of Volvic, nicely chilled.
Vichy is known for two things: the Vichy Regime (or Government) of 1940—1944, which many of the townsfolk like to distance themselves from (a guy called Pete recently went into the tourist office to ask if there were any museums or exhibits dedicated to the Vichy Regime and he was met with distinct disapproval for even considering the question, never mind asking it); and the naturally carbonated — and purportedly healing — waters from the Source des Célestins, the inspiration behind the skin products created by Vichy Laboratoires.
The Hall des Sources is right in the centre of town and therefore the perfect place to stop and sip from the fountain, or at least drink from a €0.25 white plastic cup. Those in the know, however, come prepared with a small glass housed in a likewise small basket container with carry handle; undoubtedly a better drinking experience.
That’s the thing about discovering new places, the locals always have the inside scoop. A few years ago I went to see Madame Butterfly at the Théâtre Antique d’Orange. The opera began at dusk and continued until close to midnight — a lovely experience, especially as it was an exceptionally clear moonlight night.
After showing our tickets to the usher, we were directed about three-quarters of the way up the wide, steep steps where we settled down for the show to begin. A quick glance around at other people arriving and it was soon apparent they all knew something we didn’t: the necessity of the cushion — some had thin foam ones, others, thicker, more luxurious ones (which we came to refer to as the twenty-minute and two-hour cushions respectively) — and as we could later attest, a long evening on stone seating is hard on even the fleshiest of buttocks.
On a different note, something that may interest my Mac-user readers — I currently have a 2-for-1 offer on Mac lessons via Skype, which ends at 11:30 (UK time) on Thursday morning (23 August), so if you’d like to take advantage of the offer, please send me an email. You pay for your two one-hour sessions at the time of booking (and before the deadline) and you have until the end of August to use the two hours at a time convenient to you.