Sunday, 14 February 2010

old world charm

Bye, Geneva, hello south of France. The thing about Europe is that it is -- follow me closely here -- old. Meaning that people have been building there for a long time. And some of those buildings are still around. When you come to my place I will send directions like: get off the 401 highway at Cobourg, come down the main drag and turn right at King Street. Driving to my friend Isabel's in the south part of France, I read directions like: turn left at the 12th century church, (seriously, like the one here) ... go around the monastery wall and over the bridge by the mill. I felt like I was in a Walter Scott novel, waiting for the Black Knight.

I was not driving, by the way. All the cars in France are infected with clutches, and I gave up after I stalled three times getting out of the parking spot at the rental agency. Thank heavens Mir likes to drive standard, or we'd still be there.

So I got to read the directions and enjoy the elderly scenery -- the renaissance castles and Roman corn chandleries and medieval insurance offices and so on. I pointed them out to Mir, who was trying to dodge the French. Their roads are built chariot-wide, but the people in their cars and trucks take them as fast as we do ours, and there is a fair amount of deking and diving and swearing and fist-shaking. Mir interrupted my historical commentary at regular intervals to tell me to glare at a particular car as we passed on a roundabout. Call the driver something awful, she would say, and I would roll down my window and yell, Son of a bridge! and Species of pastry shop! and other French epithets.

Isabel and her husband Bob live in a quiet dream of beauty, with their own olive grove, and the 12th century church and millstream visible from their sun-warmed terrace. A bottle of the local wine was on the table when we arrived -- another thing the Europeans (French especially) have been doing for a long time.


Marilyn said...

Neat directions. To my house it would be: go past
the drug dealers on Dundas, don't get hit by a taxi and don't stand on the corner, or the pimp will kick you off.

Richard Scrimger said...

Nice neighborhood you got there!

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Richard Scrimger said...

Yes. Yes it does.