Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Paris to Château-Gontier : Tristesse et Joie

Day six started with sadness.

We had had such a ball in Paris. Leaving the city of statues and sex shops, new friends and their amazing and generous hospitality, and so much else, was too much. This was foolishness. Why were we departing? We had only just scratched the surface. Given another year in Paris, we may have got to know and love half of it, even though we had come to love all of it first.

The Gare Montparnasse at 8:30 am was thankfully gloomy and dark; or so it seemed.
I was certainly dark at the prospect of leaving Guille to climb on her own, of letting Eric loose with his camera without sharing those moments, and of not hearing and seeing Michael's pride in his city as we dashed most everywhere.

The TGV sat placidly and not even impatiently. It had done all this before but never as sadly as we were feeling.

The trip to Tours in the beautiful Loire Valley took the usual many seconds or so. Time was slowing down now and soon we had to drive ourselves around.

In a sparkling Mercedes, we gingerly headed north west, stopping for coffee and 'sandwichs' at Cafe de la Promenade at Sainte Colombe, on the Avenue de Constant d'Estournelles, près de La Flèche.
Les Fléchois, like all French people we met, are happy to see you and Marcel and his merry men made us more coffees than we needed and baguettes avec jambon et fromage. They thought we were crazy, mixing the two !
I'd rather be crazy in France and do it the French way. And so we did.

What fun !

The car was a joy, and driving along the little French roads dans la Sarthe and into la Mayenne et la région Pays de la Loire was simply lovely. A new sensation of excitation was slipping into the day. This was superbe ! ... and les Christophe were putting on the kettle? You bet they were. Château-Gontier was approaching, dead ahead !

Les Castrogontériens were now only minutes away...


Virginia said...

Well you have me all teary eyed over leaving Paris and all the boring sex shops. I feel as if I am in the back seat of that spiffy Mecedes headed off into the sunset. What's next!

Emiliane said...

Vraiment un beau voyage que vous avez fait là. Et voir ma ville natale dans vos souvenirs photographiques me comble de joie.
A bientôt pour de nouvelles balades.

Webradio said...

Chateau Gontier n'est pas très loin de Châteaubriant et le Pays de la Mée...

Nathalie H.D. said...

Comment, vous avez mélangé jambon et fromage dans vos sandwiches? C'est complètement contraire à la tradition !

En France autrefois c'était jambon-beurre OU fromage !!! Ah, le monde change... bientôt on mettra aussi de la salade et des tomates dans les sandwiches, non??? Quelle hérésie ! Où va la France?

Nathalie H.D. said...

Monsieur roule en mercedes pour faire les chateaux de la Loire? Monsieur a une bien jolie voiture !

Nathalie H.D. said...

J'aime beaucoup la baguette sur le porte-bagages de la bicyclette. Bien vu !

dive said...

Paris probably went into mourning when you left, Monsieur, just as London did.

Anonymous said...

m.benaut when you have a minute, make sure you go and read dive's "katie and dive do london, part 6", it's hilarious. Isn't Dive is an incredibly talented writer?

Volmon said...

Merci pour votre hospitalité! Vos photos intimes et commentaire passionné m'ont fourni beaucoup de plaisir! Je crois que mes préférés sont ceux de Paris rougeoyant dans la nuit. Dans l'obscurité, on nous traite à une grande dame embellie dans les bijoux fugitifs.

Cheltenhamdailyphoto said...

You write so beautifully, Monsieur. I could snuggle up and read you all day. A book beckons.

Ham and cheese is good! My son has it all the time.

The Merc looks simply gorgeous. How sad you must have been to leave Paris.

Your comment about Guille and your reluctance to leave her to climb alone. I know this is a joke of course, but for those who did not have the pleasure of meeting you; this is M. Benaut in a nutshell. He is a gentleman. Each time I departed to my car to leave them at the hotel, he always, ALWAYS, saw me safely to my car. Always held the door, always let Mme and myself go first. These things did not go unnoticed by me, a lady who loves being a lady! I adore all that. Monsieur Benaut is a perfect gentleman and Mme of course a lovely lady. How I miss them.

Cheltenhamdailyphoto said...

By the way, you haven't said a great deal about the language. How did you cope? Did you use much? Any gaffs? Did you improve? I want it all. :)

M.Benaut said...

I guess that most of our wonderful friends in France were pleased to speak English with us, Lynn; either from a courtesy point of view or because my ability to keep my ears tuned in to the speed of the spoken word was somewhat lacking.

I found that to sortie out on my own and sit in a cafe, anywhere, with total strangers was lovely. One could rattle on and have the whole world laughing in no time.

The simplicity of ordering food and drinks, or asking questions about the locality and directions to places one might have been going to, would always set them on their own path of discovery.
They would very quickly pick where I was from and so i would trick them by saying I was from Tasmania; as if Tasmania was a fictitious place. (It is, is it not ? )

Soon the group would grow and more strangers would gather round, - and the place would be like a hen house.

It was tremendous fun as in the country areas not everyone spoke or had much opportunity to speak English.
They would be wanting to try out their English on me and vice-versa.
This was always the pattern; me speaking French and the opposition, English. It was so funny.

At the cafe in this morning's post, the same thing happened. I was told off soundly for ordering such a silly mixture of sandwich fillings - simply because to do so was humourous. The old boys from the outside table came in to give me support as Marcel was "berating" me. Bit like the War of the Roses !

At the end of it I certainly had tears in my eyes and the good old boys, the ones in the berets sipping their absinthe, sur la terrace, would have forgotten whose round it was for drinks.

On paying the addition, they all caught sight of an Aussie $100 note, About 50€. Then the whole talk-fest would start all over again. I explained that Caroline Chisholm or who ever; was not actually the Queen of Australia.

It just went on and on and it was tremendously stimulating. I really miss it.

Cheltenhamdailyphoto said...

Sigh... thanks for answering, M. Benaut. I thought so, it was like that when I was last there. Me trying to speak French, but them replying in English! I'm glad you used some though, and of course the longer you are there, the ear becomes trained and the speed less alarming! Oh I wish I'd been there. lol.

M.Benaut said...

Sigh aussi, Lynn !

We'll get you there by hooks or crooks, n'est ce pas !!!

And; thank you for saying all that nice stuff about me.
I've now got quite a swelled head.

Crikey !

Cheltenhamdailyphoto said...

All true, Monsieur, all true.

Maria said...

You capture it all so well...

Nathalie H.D. said...

I can easily picture you engaging in conversation with all sorts of people, I love your description of the process. What fun!

claude said...

Hello m.Benaut !
I just read your previous posts. Our german friends were at home 5 days and I could follow your trip day after day. I see you enjoy our trip in Paris . You drive the rented car and I wait for you again !

Anonymous said...

Hey m.benaut, no post for 15 October? What's going on????

Cheltenhamdailyphoto said...

Thought of you last night, M.B. I left the pub at 11.30 and mentioned to S (you might remember him?) that I was going. Pitch black outside. Nothing. No offer of walking me to my car. So...I said...I'll be off then....nothing. No offer. So I just left when another couple left and was safe, but your gentlemanly manners were sorely missed Monsieur!

M.Benaut said...


A bloke will have to stop opening doors and - doit ouvrir son ordinateur. Autrement il sera profondément dans la boue!

Veuillez agréer mes excuses profondes.

Par hazard je pouvais dormir pendant quatre heures la nuit passée et travailler pendant sept heures, aujourd'hui. Les choses s'améliorent !!

Tennis en parc et un petit repas. (deux heures)

Ah, j'ai oublié, 2 heures au dentiste.

Par conséquent je peux avoir huit heures à l'ordinateur; non ?

Je serai bientôt un mathématicien !

Nathalie H.D. said...

Deux heures chez le dentiste, c'est beaucoup. J'espère que tu n'as pas eu trop mal !