The Vacuum Collection
We are now December 9th, and your special envoy is trying to type a serious article while the TGV,
grossly nicknamed the Bullet Train by us, violent Americans, so your envoy is somewhat dashing through the Provencal
countryside back to the French Capital.
The TGV is an eminently elegant train, where french people sit smugly, and patiently through interstellar speed,
pretending they all take it into a stride.
You realize they do not, once you stand in a line to get some, in fact, surprisingly good food, at ' La voiture-bar"
the little dining car, where there are counters, and very sweet young staff serve you microwave food. " Ah quelle horreur,"
ah what a horror says the French who still gobble it up.
There are, alas, no more booth to sit in, and be served by portentous and gruff waiters. This is not the elitist dining car of
the Sixties where you could watch Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant spare with elegant words, in North by Northwest.
Here there is a serving counter where where you stand in line, and get sometimes pretty elaborated little meals.
Since the train flies through the landscape, any slight modification of the straight line creates transversal motion which breaks the staid queue, people are thrown roughly against each other, and you see french people's eyes suddenly widen in horror at such close physical contact with their fellow citizens.
That is when you discover how scared people really are to ride on the TGV.
But then the train rides for another ten minutes straight, and people are back in impeccable line, pretending nothing happened, and of course not talking to each other. Being of a loquacious and warm type, I usually try to start broaching an innocuous subject such as derailment at such speed, a subject I have to say seems to fall always on dead ears.
So I was subsequently visiting loveliest friends in a region close to Normandy, Le Perche, who have a young little boy who reminded me very much of the little one who wanted an aviator to draw for him a sheep.
His mother, who looks a little like a fairy in her castle, took me to "le marche" the farmers-market in the near little town. We went to " le bon poissonier "
which is the good fishmonger,
because the other fish stand, was "le poissonier qui n'est pas mauvais"
who is not bad, but of course not as good. In fact, he was lifting his arms in despair when he saw we passed him.
In the pic below, you will see the Little Prince asleep, probably dreaming about what could have happened to his rose.
Then, a little sad to leave these delightful friends, and because it is too exciting to roam over France riding a train, and knock oneself abruptly against the prudish French, the next goal was Provence.
It was sort of cold, with a little "Mistral," the north wind, which brings beautiful blue skies, but not a whole lot of warmth.
So we went to the delightful little city of Uzes, on the little square called " la Place aux Herbes "
literally " The Square of Herbs" where we ate something "sur le pouce ". See day 1 for translation. That day the menu, "sur le pouce" was "Veloute de Chou Romanesco" which is something like Velvet Soup of Roman Cabbage. Whichever way you translate it, it was delicious.
Then we waited for 2 pm when the stores open again, and we went into a tiny store to buy " des sacs pour l'aspirateur"
paper bags for the vacuum. The French have an imposing collection of paper bags for vacuums with very complicated codes.
You have to be French to understand what a refined system that is. There is a choice of about 123 different bags. A tiny old lady checked out the whole system for us, ordered her two sons to get the adequate assortment, and they obeyed her really fast.
We drove back home crossing burnt orange paths streaking brown fields and dark vineyards, their trunk black and empty of any foliage. In some places you could see the tenderest blue- green of the olive trees against the dark brown earth. It's a raw and pretty amazing landscape in winter. And then you come across a lovely silent village.
And then in the evening, because outside the Mistral is blowing and it's cold, cold, cold, you get to feast on "un pot au feu." Braised beef with all kinds of vegetables, bones with marrow, and beef stock. It reminds you a bit of what cave men might have eaten, and then you think it's really worth to have ridden the Bullet Train, got the vacuum bags, and feel now warm, warm, warm.
Love and warmth,