We did have a couple non-academic excursions while here
. On Wednesday afternoon we attempted to got the Chateau d'If. Unfortunately, no ferries were sailing? motoring? ferrying? that day due to high winds. Of course, they don't both to update their website or anything. It wasn't too terrible, though a bit disappointing, even if I was more disappointed that so few of the mathematicians had read Count of Monte Cristo, which made the Chateau d'If famous, not just notorious. Today, Ben and I took the afternoon to go down to the coast for some swimming and relaxing. It was a longish, but pleasant, walk, including a severed hoof of some description (possibly a boar, as people, not me alas, have seen wild boar about) gracing the trail. The last section was a steep decent to the rocks (no beach) without any shade. The water, which looked so inviting from afar, was brutally cold. Ice bath cold. Apparently it had been warmer at the beginning of the week. Few people were swimming. Those who were largely entered the water via cliff diving, then swiftly swam back to the rocks. I suppose that is one method of ensuring you get the worst part over with all at once.
The conference center is quite nice, though some a/c would go over well. We borrowed a fan a couple of times, until the wised up and started locking them up at night. I don't see why. No one was using them at 1am and they weren't necessary at 8am when we brought them back down. Having the windows open is a bit of a non-starter for me. We did that the first night and while Ben managed a largely untroubled sleep, the mosquitoes found me. The bites are bad enough, but why do they have to announce their presence by first buzzing in my ears? It made sleep impossible unless I was under the covers, which was equally intolerable with the heat. At last, around 4am, I wrapped a towel around my head to prevent the aural fly-bys and succeeded in getting a few hours of rest. Tonight is another sweltering night with no fans to be found. I'm trying to have the windows open with the drapes closed. The room slowly seems to be cooling and thus far, no blood suckers. Fingers crossed for the rest of the night. At least I was smart enough to bring along some afterbite.
So it's our last night in France. Tomorrow we head off to join my (Jola's) parents in Prague, beginning the next stage of our European travels. There hasn't been much to write about while we've been in Luminy, which sits just outside Marseille. Ben's been enjoying a math conference and I've been spending my days doing work, or being annoyed at work. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Our car trip down to Marseille left us with eight bottles of wine to get through prior to tomorrow morning, as there was simply no way we were prepared to fly with that many in our suitcases, even if they'd all fit. Every night at dinner, therefore, we had a bottle of wine. I've been taking notes, along with pictures of the labels, and intend to put up a post in the next day or two about the wines we've had and our thoughts on them. Perhaps I'll get around to it tomorrow prior to the flight.