LA BONNE VIE EN SALIGNAC CONTINUER...
of the Salignac Foundation
on village life in France
am now settled in with partner, cat et al. The rural bit begins
to take bite in the form of the local bus. As Fiona doesnt
drive and she values her independence, we check out the bus
situation. This is not a simple operation. The French have a
wonderful system of public transport. On time, cheap, clean,
and efficient. This is fine in theory. The only trouble is that
in rural parts they are inveterate car users, not helped by
the fact that last year the French Government abolished the
equivalent of Road Tax. Imagine HMG doing that? God knows what
this does to pollution.
of this is that the French do not know about buses in rural areas. As
it turns out this is hardly surprising, as there arent any! Well,
almost nothing. It turns out that there is a bus that passes through
our village at 1.20pm on a Saturday going to Sarlat, our nearest large
town. The only drawback is that it does not return except for the next
Saturday at 1.20pm in the same direction. Now, this is obviously a problem.
A problem that we have not yet resolved! It also poses the question
of where does it go in between?
Another problem that I have discovered about living in France. Possibly
this exists in other countries but I have developed an aversion to any
packaging that says Easy Opening. Anything with this label
on is designed to drive me mad, as by its very nature, it is any
thing but! There is one exception to this and I discovered it the other
day when the hole in the wall disappeared from our local
bank. Very inconvenient when the nearest one to us is ten miles away.
Four days later the Gendarmes came to our door asking if we had heard
or seen anything unusual during the last Sunday night/Monday morning.
Saying "No" it was then explained that said machine had been
stolen! It apparently took only two cars and a bit of rope to remove.
Now thats what I call Easy Opening.
One of the, many, local characters that we have met includes a lady
called Nadine. Nadine is a bit of a mystery. Let me explain. She is
small, of indeterminate age and quite jolly. However, she has a large
house not far away, which I believe to be about 10 miles or so, in which
she will not stay a night. She is driven to our village every evening
to stay in one of the rooms above the local cafÈ and returns
in the morning to her house. For some reason she will not sleep in the
family pile. This apparently has been going on for many years now and
nobody seems to know the reason. Was it something nasty in the woodshed?
Will I ever know? I feel that there is a story there. Watch this space
while I make up something.
Meanwhile I have been trying to organise the business, website, publicity
and so on and going to the local cafÈ occasionally, which is
where I met Mike. At the risk of offending English readers, I tend to
avoid the English Abroad (this is because as I mentioned before, I am
a Scot) but Mike is English. Not a bad chap at that. Last summer while
the local community where doing up the village square we have a very
go-ahead mayor who managed to get the funding. I parked my car in the
direct line of a reversing JCB. At the time I did not realise this,
but I soon did when I heard the crunch. With a lot of gesticulation,
shouting and drama the problem was sorted out, after they helped put
the back bumper, one of the light clusters and odd bits of trim on to
my 15 year old French car and we repaired to the bar. During the soothing
process during which I had made best friends with the local council
workers, Mike walked in an introduced himself in a very British way,
"Sorry to hear about your spot of bother Old Chap, can I help?"
I looked out of the door at my wreck of a car and said "Not a lot,
now but you could buy me a beer.?" Which he did. A year on and
the car is still running but Mike had a hip replacement a couple of
months ago. Does that say anything about French engineering?
While I have been talking about the local cafe, they had a very successful
season last year and decided to develop it more into a brasserie and
they employed a Portuguese chap, who has been in the village for years
as a general builder. This involved moving the bar to the opposite end
of the cafe and installing the eating bit at the other end beside the
kitchen. Unfortunately, he is rather partial to Pastis and the opening/finishing
date drifted from February through until 3 weeks ago. I suspect that
he forgot to mention in which year the February was, when he quoted
to Cecile and Lillian, the owners! Cafe de la Place if you are ever
in this part of the world. The best hand-knitted pizzas around!
Jaques Tati in Jour De Fete
Now for some of the other characters, There is Jan, the crazy Dutchman
(arent they all?) he makes number plates in Shri-Lanka, a Belgian
and an Alsatian (not a dog!) with web businesses, Mssr. Dubois the mayor
(he has blue eyes) and many others including a long distance lorry driver
that brought tea from Turkey to the UK to be turned into teabags only
to be exported back to Turkey.
But then thats rural France for you.
Want to know more
© Barry Paton May 2001
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