Sunday, May 28, 2006

from Pierrerue: quiet

A one hour hike, a half-hour bus ride, a two hour local train, a three hour TGV (French bullet train), an hour bus ride, a ten minute car ride, a three hour Internet installation process. That was my Saturday. You guess which one from this list failed me.

You think it’s the Internet set up, right? No! I am on! Slow, but chuggin' away! Then was it the local buses? No! Like clockwork. Well then the hike. Walking for an hour from the Savoie restaurant-with-rooms to the bus stop, with my supremely heavy backpack, wheeling the suitcase up hills, down hills, around hills – foolish, yes? Maybe, but I managed (and saved Euros by avoiding monsieur le expensive taxi).

What failed was the TGV: the bullet train stopped in Montpellier and could not get itself going again. For hours. Oh, technology.

No matter, thanks to miracles and favors along the way, I made it to the village of Pierrerue – home for the next three weeks. I am living in a tiny apartment in an old stone corner of a long-gone castle courtyard.

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Some enterprising soul ran wiring and plumbing in through the original walls. The place has two tiny windows, but if you take the trouble of walking over to one, the views are of the countryside. Like this:

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Pierrerue is in the heart of the hilly wine making region of St Chinian. Pierrerue itself has maybe a dozen houses, a church, a rooster, and a bus stop. I understand a bus comes through once a day. Oh, and on weekdays, the bread man comes through the village. He rides down the street shouting his presence and people come out to buy their baguettes. The French cannot live without a fresh baguette daily.

I am a forty minute walk from the town of St. Chinian (downhill getting there, very uphill coming back). St. Chinian is not a tourist destination. It has no hotel that I'm aware of, no internet café. It is small. But it has one large tree shaded square, four bakeries, four restaurants and a grocery store. And a market twice a week.

I am where I want to be – in the deep French countryside. Happily, the rooster is a French rooster: he comes out on a fine evening looking and sounding great and then sleeps in the next day. Even the church bells are quiet this morning. It’s Sunday, a do not much of anything kind of a day.

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