Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bergerac, a kinder, gentler place.

Today we get up and as it’s Sunday we have a leisurely breakfast, me the toast and coffee, Cindy has mixed slices of fruit and coffee….separately, and Caleigh has a bowl of sugar coated cereal with milk…..combined in a bowl, without the use of a spoon. In record time we are wheeling down the French country side. “Good job team, the beach master at Dunkirk would be proud of you.” For all my constant buffoonery at their and my expense, I couldn’t buy…ask for better traveling companions. We make the 26 kilometer drive in just under a half an hour, the day is crystal clear. Sunny but cool, and we arrive at noon. A note to any filming location scouts out there, you want a gorgeous ancient French river town location with no one to get into your shots, late January on any Sunday. One word Bergerac, France. Alright two words. We park our zippy little Citroen in a lot by the river and get out. After about five minutes we close our collective mouths and smile, nice, a little too nice. I scout the roof tops for sniper positions, none, look around for police barricades, none. guys in hazmat suits pointing at us, nope. Well lets go into this deserted ancient city. Again its Sunday in the offest of off seasons and every tiny block has a boulangerie, which if you didn’t know is where the French manufacture their currency, the baguette. We walk down narrow architecturally decedent streets, every example of French architecture is represented, well all the good examples, they fortunately didn’t have a mini Pompidou center discarded in it’s midst. The main Church steeple was cocooned in scaffolding and netting giving it a decidedly industrial artsy look to it, like a Hugh Ferris charcoal sketch, had only the weather been overcast and gray. We stopped across the street from the still life steeple and ordered a few treats from the Patisserie, I got a café éclair, Caleigh got a strawberry filled doughnut, and Cindy intelligently ordered a baguette sandwich sub thingy. Mine was so better than Caleigh’s. We continued around this empty city, Caleigh commented on how much she liked Bergerac, which was so unlike her, not about being positive but about analyzing a city’s merits and comparing it to a more hip metro city. I think she was dead on, it’s a very intimate city, but it has layers, there is the romantic aspect of the older section, with a statue of Cyrano De Bergerac, who if you must know did not come from Bergerac. Then there is the river, with all the nice bridges, and boat ride offerings, on my favorite river; the Dordogne. And there’s a commercial section I didn’t see, nice if a city can do it, and the outer environs.
The surrounding countryside did not abruptly slam into the outer defensive suburban ring, instead it cooperated and blended in with out drama, there were Gironde styled houses surrounded by their acreage, and small farmhouses scattered close to residential streets. We continued on our walking tour and came to a city square where they must hold their weekly market, great location. Across from the market square was a memorial honoring the fallen in 1870, surrounded by a beautiful garden. It was at the memorial for the battle of 1870 where I took a half dozen of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever taken of some frosted flowers. There were little things that added up to a well thought out city plan, public toilets, by which I mean available for public use not some toilet by itself in the middle of a sidewalk. I won’t make that mistake again, hey I thought they had just installed it, not that some bozo…mime had dropped it off and had to go park his Renault. Cindy had wished that more things were open so we could experience it in it’s more natural state, but I have to disagree. We were the recipients of a divine gift, we got to road test this city by our selves with out having to wait in bumper to bumper traffic of people. We will return in a couple days to Bergerac, hopefully on market day to see the spices they use to flavor this most beautiful city.

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