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Getting Creatively Lost: A Ramble Through France

Grottes de Presque

A formation inside the Grottes de Presque.

Shortly afterward, I headed out to the Grottes de Presque, a grotto about four miles away. Part of the route involved a highway, one lane in each direction, which I disliked. But French drivers are generally very respectful of hikers (saving their aggression for each other), and even semis crossed the center line to give me plenty of room when they could, which they didn’t really have to do. And for the first time since the start of my trip, my feet didn’t hurt at all.

I liked the grotto itself, though it wasn’t worth forty-five minutes, during which the guide talked constantly, rat-a-tat-tat. But the grotto was gorgeous, with formations of calcium, iron, and manganese, often in forms that resembled whatever a French person would see in them: rabbits, a nun, a dog, intestines, or a crèche. The guide referred to the Christian symbols as if they were universal, whereas I wouldn’t have recognized the nun, for instance. I had to laugh to myself when the guide, who knew I was American–the only foreigner on that tour–asked me privately what the English word for crèche was.

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