In January, the air is crisp and, on occasion, the wind chills but nothing warms the heart than circling the village within and beyond its frontiers.
I start, naturally, outside our house in the petite rue that cuts our impasse
(dead end). I turn right on the foot alley to emerge in one of the main roads bordering the village circulade. I can either turn left or right depending on my state of mind. When I turn right, I will face a steep hill after passing the gate
to the campground and elementary school. I ascend slowly, attentively avoiding dog poop that generally appears because of the street access to a large park on my left. Once I pass the school and the road to the tennis courts, the “suburb”
of the village begins. Here, single family homes, some two stories but most one level, are evident. There are a few with adjoining plots thus creating a large garden, or olive orchard, beyond the main house. And of course, these large properties
are almost always with dogs. Loud, annoying but not necessarily aggressive.
At the top of this small hill, I can go straight pass the sign indicating the end of the village boundary and the start of beaucoup vineyards
that populate these hills. On my left is a well recognized, almost always full, chambres d’ hotes with its own pool. Rather expensive my neighbors might say but it has terrific views that one visiting friend says reminds him of Napa
Valley without the pretension.
Instead, I generally turn right and wander along the streets of villas that now occupy once thriving vineyards. I was told that the mairie (municipal government) can decide to expand the
housing plots every 10 years and that development takes time as water and sewer lines are drawn and put in place over a number of years. Thus, the need to plan the construction schedules carefully.
All houses are individually designed
and constructed so there is variety among them. Most have fairly high fencing that obstructs the complete view of the house. There are hardly any passing cars on most days and even fewer random walkers like me. Once or twice, I will encounter
my friend Annie as she takes her morning walk so we stop, do the bisous and make small talks. I also often see a few men and women taking their dogs out for their canine exercise. One, in particular, is a familiar and friendly face. A big
man who walks a small terrier.. so small I am tempted to pick it up and play with it like a stuffed toy.
After many houses, I spy the sign indicating the village stade or, in English, sports ground. This is situated
between the villas and the vineyards and borders the woods. I sometimes detour from the main road to walk through but mindful of someone’s warning that there may be hunters or snakes coming out of the woods. Not a good idea
to encounter either one.
Back on the main road, I trek along easily on flat ground until I reach that part that descends down to the major avenue. I cross this avenue to enter another area filled with modern villas all situated south
of the village center. From this part of the village, I can go straight and circle the lower part of town or cut across the villas through the small, short streets. Whatever route I take, I end up on the side of the village where the cave cooperative
is located. From August to October, the wine vapors get stronger the closer one gets to the cave. The rusty gate is open then because the trucks come for their grapes to be unloaded and processed. Interestingly, the cave faces a small but
lovely flowering park.
On the other side of the park, one finds the maison de retraite or the retirement/assisted living facility. Through the glass sliding doors, I see personnes âgées
(the French expression for old people) inside the main hall. Some playing cards, others conversing and a few staring outside at me. Wondering, perhaps, how a person from the other side of the world ended up in their neighborhood! This route,
one that takes me pass the cave cooperative and the maison de retraite, is one of my favored routes because the street is generally empty of car and foot traffic. And no canines to interrupt my thoughts.
this same road, I go by the war monument that is ubiquitous in every town and village. Across this monument, one finds the old 12th century church open only during mass held once a week. At this point, I have another choice to
make. Turn left to reach the western boundary and ascend another hill that passes by the cemetery and leads to the village clinic. Or turn right towards the village center passing by the church entrance and leading to the mairie.
It doesn’t matter really as both are enjoyable routes that bring me closer to home. And home, en effet, is the ultimate destination. Onwards!