National Geographic : 1978 Oct
with a wry smile: "This is a town where people go to bed very early, but when you walk down the street at 1 a.m. all the curtains move back for better viewing." The curtain peepers might have found food for talk in the spectacle of my repeat of the gargantuan meal in Le Puy. With the Broggio family as guests, I sit down to lunch at noon and rise from table at 6 p.m., a tribute to the skills of chef M. Gerard Antoine, who with his wife, N6elle, owns and operates Le Bateau Ivre. Under the beamed ceiling of a room built in 1750, on a round table covered with madame's own linen trimmed with an tique lace, we feast on the same memorable succession of dishes that Stevenson enjoyed. The price-200 francs, or forty-five dollars, a head-reflects an other kind of change wrought in the past hundred years. " G7./ ONASTRIANS, of , ./I all shades of - V" thought in poli tics," wrote Stevenson, "had agreed in threatening me with many ludicrous misadventures, and with sudden death in many surprising forms. Cold, wolves, robbers, above all the nocturnal practical joker ... ." No dire predictions come my way, but, curiously, no one ex pects me to make it in 12 days. For the most part, Stevenson traveled the main, most direct roads. Today those roads are major highways, with danger ous traffic and blacktop painful to donkey hooves. Advisers counsel back roads, cattle and sheep paths, hiking and horseback trails, and aban doned railroad beds. All clearly marked, they say, and running through the villages and towns on Stevenson's route-but longer, much longer. Trudging uphill from Cheylard l']Evque, the author tugs at her donkey, an animal with opinions often opposite from those of her companion. Nevertheless, Patterson observed, "My Modestine is sweet, with warm brown eyes and a talent for listening." After an "uncouth beginning" Stevenson, too, grew fond of his donkey. "Her faults were those of her race and sex; her virtues were her own."