Two nights in Paris was just sufficient to take in the city Christmas lights. These were not as extensive as we thought they might be, but still impressive. The Tour Eiffel changed on the hour to flashing white lights from top to bottom...actually quite tacky, we thought, as we laughed at being in Paris in the cold drizzle and walking to the Galleries Lafayette. Stunning is the only real word to describe the Lafayette window displays. Gorgeous, intricate clockwork creations, often very funny....the local squire's Christmas drinks party was hilarious.
|Val at the Champs Elysees Marche Noel|
The second night we discovered the Marche Noel on the lower Champs Elysees which is a delight with every second stall offering vin chaud (mulled wine in Australian). One paid a deposit on the plastic cup but could redeem the deposit at any other stall, a great idea for keeping littering down. The lights here were beautiful and very accessible (gotta use that word somewhere) at eye level. Each tree had three overlapping circles of light, changing muted colour de temps en temps and each tree linked to the next with light chains. It seemed very cold to us two warm-blooded visitors...I pulled my scarf up over my beanie and tied it under my chin, to Val's merry amusement...."you look like a dork" she chortled, but my ears were WARM!!
Onwards to Le Petit Maine, our home away, to be met by Mary-Lou and Don at Angouleme station and a half hour drive to Le PM. We travelled by fast train from Paris...Australia needs to invest in this infrastructure....just great, very fast and relatively cheap....book early and check each departure's (there are usually several each day) varying cost are the secrets to French train travel.
|Val and me arriving at Le Petite Maine...with lunch in the bag|
I have mentioned in an earlier blog that Le PM is in the sticks.....well is is definitely rural France, surrounded by (unfenced) smallish, by our standards, paddocks and quite a lot of small forest copses. It's actually quite delightful countryside even in this early winter period. As in most of regional France, there are many small villages each with it's own fairly substantial 12th Century church (well, they all seem to claim ancient timelines). The age of piety and sincere belief certainly has left a myriad of churches, often only a mile or two apart, almost as if each country friar had to match his neighbour. That's quite unfair of course....there was belief and there was conviction in the needs of the soul, the hereafter and the need, the desperate need, to escape the devil's inferno. A noble could buy redemption by founding or endowing yet another chapel. I think I would draw the line, though, at the bishops, always of noble lineage, and their competing cathedrals, even beautiful as they are. Enough of this philosophy, onwards with a much more earthy and delectable and really true story....La French Waitress et Moi....her name's Valerie.
Our local town, Montmoreau, is just that, a local town of no great charm but with all the shops etc necessary to basic life, including a small bar cum cafe. It's a town of about 3000 people, naturally with a small chateau perched on the hill overlooking the hoi poiloi. There's a small marie (town hall) salon de fete (community hall), one supermache, like IGA but with booze, servo, car wash (necessary) and playing fields.....and of course the local church, yet to be explored. There's also a tennis group which I may try to break into at a later date (when its a bit warmer perhaps).
Anyway, Don and Mary-Lou thought that they needed one last 'plat de jour' lunch with us before they headed off back to Maleny. Good idea, lets try the local bar/cafe, Le Piment Rouge, run by the said Valerie and her ex-rugby playing husband, both late thirties.
Valerie, with her lovely French accent welcomes us to the establishment...
"No, we don't have a reservation."
"No trouble, we can fit you in"...not in the sun room but a little further back.
OK by us! Now, of course, after 18 months with our U3A French professor down in Caloundra once a week, I am the world's best tourist-French speaker. I will order the wine, says I.
"Ah madam, comment ca va? Nous broissons...." I get no further, Valerie does a double take, steps a little backwards and looks at me agape. I stop, everyone looks at the two of us. Boisson is "drink" and boire is "to drink". I should have said, of course, "nous buvons" (we drink....) Valerie recovers in good form and leans into my ear, whispering, "you have just said, "we make love". Puce is an understatement to describe the colour of my face, Don gleefully tells me afterwards.
On the way out, saying good day to mine host, Valerie tells her husband of the little exchange. He's highly delighted and has a great belly laugh. In Anglo-Saxon terms he exclaims to all .....my gaffe is best translated as "lets f..."!!!
that's all folks....thank goodness.
cheers to all
As usual, comments always welcome,