Coming backAug 10th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
Sitting at a pavement cafe on the Rue des Medicis looking across to the Jardin de Luxembourg, the afternoon seemed very pleasant. Staring at the world over the top of a glass of Kronenbourg, this seemed a fine place to be. A Protestant sense of guilt and foreboding disturbed the moment, “Bet it’s not like this in November”
It is probably not.
The canopies that stretched out over the pavement had rolled up within them transparent plastic walls that would stretch down to the ground when the weather turned. The polo shirted men who stepped in off the street set €1 on the counter and stood to drink their Espressos in a gulp or two would be dressed more warmly; the trees in the park would be bare of their leaves; the hundreds of Parisians who lay in the August sunshine would be busy with winter activities; in the palace in the Luxembourg gardens the French senate would be back to the humdrum life of politics.
No, it wouldn’t be the same in November, but where is?
Once, we took on the Protestant pessimism. We went to France for a week at the end of October. It was different, but it was still a delight.
Flying to Bordeaux from Dublin on an Air France flight was positively exotic compared to the usual journeys with Ryanair. A sporty Peugeot 307 hire car and we zipped along. The Dordogne farmhouse had a big, open fireplace and we stacked the logs up the chimney. It fell to minus six on the first night; the metallic blue of the car shrouded in a white frost. The days were clear blue and bright; we went to the castle in the nearby town and climbed to the top of its tower; the view was as good as it had been in summer except we had it to ourselves. The restaurant food was good (and cheaper); we sat one lunchtime and watched a white-maned writer with sheets of paper scattered across the table, he would write furiously with a biro and just as furiously cross out as much as he had written. The markets were busy with autumn produce and game; rabbits and pigeons hung along a butcher’s stall; a paysanne sold us excellent blackberries. The final afternoon had the warmth of an autumn sun; time to be bold and test the swimming pool in which we had spent so many summer hours. One width of the pool was sufficient; the water temperature a ten degrees. As if there was an awareness that this was the last night; the Northern Lights appeared, great flashes of yellow and green across the night sky.
Certainly the Dordogne was not the same in late October as it was in late August, but it was a good place to be.
Anyone know what Paris is like at Hallowe’en?