France: Day 7 - La Vie de Montreal du Gers

With David OG on the road this morning and Charles on his way to Bordeaux, I was on my own for most of the day in Montreal du Gers. Thank God I've been taking French lessons for the past few months because I was in the thick of la vie de Gascogne—not a scene known for its fluency in English. Last year at this time I was sitting in Charles's mother-in-law's kitchen, doing some laundry, nodding my head and smiling as she talked my ear off. The problem was I didn't understand a thing she was saying. This year, however, I'm much more self-sufficient. After doing some work in my guest room, I checked out, paid the bill, and brought my luggage over to Bernard's restaurant. The plan was to take a walk and get a bit of exercise. What actually happened though was a few glasses of red wine, some local politics, and a few pieces of sausage.

Because we're in the Sud Ouest of France, there's a decent amount of Basque influence and the opinions about government can become quite heated. I was able to understand about 40% of what they were talking about and it was absolutely hilarious. It was just like that scene in Amelie with the old guy who comes into the cafe each day to rant and rave. This is all at 11 AM, mind you, on a weekday no less.

I did sneak out for a bit, however, and was able to catch the action on the streets. There was a farmer's market in the middle of the square and people were out running errands, preparing for the day's numerous meals.

Everything was calm on the Rue Calmette. There was a bit of moisture in the air. It looked as if it might rain, so people were getting their chores done early.

I walked around the edge of town to see the outskirts. It's a pretty amazing little village; very pictureque with an old well, momuments to the many wars, and views of the rolling hills from many different vantage points.

What's funny now is that I'm starting to know the people in town and they all think I'm a journalist because I walk around with my camera taking photos, then I sit in Bernard's restaurant working on the computer. I ran into the innkeeper on my walk, talking to her friend upstairs through the window.

Bernard had begun slicing the chorizo upon my return. He was getting ready for the mid-day lunch crowd. The restaurant started filling up and soon the bar was full of locals, all drinking wine and chatting, asking me what I was doing and looking over my shoulder as I edited my photos. "Les photos sont tres belles." Merci.

And now I have to go walk off all that food I just ate, that I promised myself I wouldn't eat again today. Bernard and Vero made me stay for lunch. Then they made me drink more wine. Then they made me eat dessert. C'est la vie de Montreal.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll