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E-Mailing Through Europe >> Troyes, France 2001


Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 04:05:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: k p
Subject: Troyes

Note: this was composed on Tuesday, but i was unable to send it at the time. So here it is, to be followed by another.


Stopped in the French town Troyes yesterday afternoon on my way to rendezvous with mom in Paris on Wednesday, the same day the Code Red virus will permanently disable the Internet. So this may be the last dispatch before I return to the states this Saturday.

The reasons I stopped here are quite complex: It is on the way to Paris, and my guidebook told me where the tourist office is. Took about 3 hours from Basel, and it was good to see the language change from ugly German that I don't understand to beautiful French that I sort of understand.

Troyes was burned down in a fire in 1524 and then rebuilt in the style of building one sees at Stratford-Upon-Avon: exposed timber frames with plaster mushed between the timber for insulation and privacy. Quite charming, the Ville Viex. I walked around the old village after relaxing in my blissfully air conditioned hotel room (the first since eva and I split) for a while, then walked the town.

After a while, it was dinner time.

One of the exciting things I've done when eating in France is usually pick out one word I know on the menu, and order that dish. It works most of the time, though the biggest goof was in Marseilles when I recognized "Risotto" but not "calmar" (squid) or the words describing a sauce with a base of squid ink.

Last night I understood the word "veau," which means veal. I also ordered off the menu "une petit salade vert," or a small green salad. They delivered both at once, and the salad was huge, with each piece of lettuce big enough to serve as the sail on a French sailing ship from the 18th century.

As to the veal, I was expecting a nice small veal cutlet of some sort. But I had ordered the specialty of the house: "jarret de veau." Turns out that's a veal shank, and let me tell you: they have some big-ass cows here. This jarret was the size of a former French colony in Africa. As an added bonus, there was a surrounding layer of fat thick enough to act as George Bush's missile shield.

Of course it was all delicious and I was extremely full after this meal. I could barely make room for the 3 scoops of sorbet (mango, orange and raspberry.)

This morning I awoke and had to decide between 2 museums: Le Musee de Vauluisant or la Maison de l'Outil et de la Pensee Ouvriere. The first is the museum of hosiery; the second the museum of tools. With Eva I would have chosen the former; freed from her wily feminine ways of persuasion, I chose the latter.

The Musee has a collection of over 10,000 tools. All they needed was a TV, lazy-boy and the EuroSport channel, and I'd be in heaven. Okay, maybe a pint of Guinness, too. Anyway; the building itself was one of those built after the great fire and completed in 1550. Left in the will of Jean Mauroy to become an orphanage, it quickly instead became a place of child exploitation. By 1669, according to the guidebook, there were 65 looms and les enfants produced over 20,000 pairs of stockings and 3,000 bonnets each year.

The French Revolution put an end to this, and the building was used for other purposes until 1974. Paul Feller, a Jesuit Priest (and apparently a Marxist Jesuit Priest) turned it into a museum. He believed "it had already been proven that trade made a man...and he wanted the young apprentices who came to the museum to be faced with the history of their trade so as to awaken in them the desire to acquire the cultural knowledge inherent in its practice."

So there were tools, comrades. There were files, rasps, hammers, vices, trowels. There were woodcutter's tools, clogmaker's tools, carpenter's tools, wheelwright's tools, cooper's tools, basketmaker's tools, chairmaker's tools, upholsterer's tools, joiner's tools.

There were tools made for measuring and drawing, tools made for measuring, weighing and drawing, bows for making holes in stone or wood, tools for making holes in stone or wood, saddlemaker's tools, and, bien sur, toolmaker's tools.

And they were all used by the exploited proletariat to produce luxuries for the borguoises. Unfortunately, there were no merchants using the tools so I could make a saddle much like I had made paper the day before.

Finally, they had a library that included the 35 volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Diderot from 1751. Very nice.

Thats the dispatch. See you all in Paris.


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