In the new French movie “Bicycling with Molière” — terrific fun, by the way — the actors Fabrice Lucchini and Lambert Wilson bicycle around a picturesque French island while trading barbs and lines from Molière’s play “The Misanthrope.”
The island, Île de Ré, may be unknown to most Americans. But this 18-mile spit of land north of Bordeaux and south of Brittany is a classic summer resort — the Martha’s Vineyard of France, you might say.
Wherever you stop along the way, to traverse U.S. Route 66 is to retrace the mythic American westward journey — the same journey undertaken, often with unimaginable hardship, by generations of pioneers, Jewish and otherwise.
“Are you Jewish?” my seatmate asked me about five minutes into the Amtrak ride from New York to Philadelphia.
The question might strike some as unnervingly direct, but New Yorkers are famous for that. And it was far from the most personal question I’ve been asked by someone I’ve known for less time than it takes to make coffee — someone with whom the only apparent connection is a passenger fare.
Overlooked and underrated, the French city of Perpignan reveals its charms to those with the patience to look.
Perpignan, best known as a transit hub for the beaches of the Languedoc-Rousillon, has the misfortune to be located amid a region of surpassing visual splendor and historic import. Were it a city in Hungary or Romania, it would surely be a major draw. But Perpignan’s quintessentially Gallic streetscapes, riverside quays and plethora of medieval architecture are hardly unique in this corner of France.