In France #2

Weather is just as much front and centre here as it is in Canada. We left before 15cm of snow fell in Toronto, ?and arrived to stormy weather here. It bucketed down rain today and there was nothing to do but go to our favourite resto and have a long meal. We love this place and they remembered us from last year so we got a good table. It?s the kind of place you dream about. Why can?t we have one of these down the street?


Wonderful food (rognons de veau superbe) and tables full of French people. You might think this is a dumb thing to say; after all we are in France. But in this part of the world the Brits have taken over so thoroughly that you can go by restaurants with Fish and Chip signs, where the veg are godawful and mushy; and not a word of French can be heard.


But our little place is not for tourists. You used to have to hack your way through cigarette smoke to make it to the dining room, but no more. France is taking the No Smoking thing seriously. All patios, doorways and sheltered places on the street are now for smokers. It?s an improvement indoors though not much can be said about if out of doors. But I?m not complaining.


The resto is small, cheerful and one table is reserved for a gentleman who knows everyone, always goes ?Coo-coo? to the kitchen to let them know he has arrived; and he sits down to a glass of wine and the Plat du jour (chicken). Last year I was terribly hurt that he never acknowledged us. So he came to our usual table and said ?If I don?t see you it?s because I?m almost blind.?


The whole town makes sure his passage is safe as he goes through the day.? We bon joured our heads off today. I hope we get the same table each time just to be near this lovely man?s presence as he nods graciously to everyone who comes in. French restaurants are unlike anything anywhere:? people talk and are animated but they aren’t noisy.? In this one there is no thumpy music. People acknolwedge each other. You see the same guys every time (and I mean guys) as they enjoy wonderful food and then back to work.


We almost outlasted the storm but not quite.?The thunder and lightening and sheet-like rain persisted until late afternoon, then moved on just as swiftly as it had arrived. And the air was so clear and transparent that you start having wine-like thoughts: a little undertone of rosemary, with a hint of mimosa, a suggestion of wood-smoke. For someone who lives in filthy air all the time, the pleasure of breathing it in and deeply is as good as another glass of local red.