Bonsoir Mes Amis,
Much happens in the long days of the idle. When I left off we had hiked down a fairly steep mountain but at the end we came to an idyllic, flower filled alpine meadow, the tinkling of cow bells resonating from the hills above, and Susan skipping on ahead singing show tunes from The Sound of Music. A lucky man I am! After more wine, bread and cheese we took a fairly long hike on tired legs to watch a sunset, which gave me more than ample time to explain to Susan exactly why we had rented a car. Got back to the village in time to be turned away by every restaurant.
This morning we arose with the ambition of touring neighboring villages and hitting a Farmers market in one of them. This is when it became apparent that when a battery is replaced in a French rental car (and this is probably not unique to French rental cars), the GPS system becomes disabled until a new code can be entered at any Renault Dealership, but not on a Sunday. When in a remote alpine village in a distant corner of France, a Renault dealership is easier to find if you already have a GPS system! Looks like we have a plan for tomorrow.
Undeterred we weaved and wound our way to the farmers’ market. Up early, as usual, we arrived before most of the farmers which gave us time to wander the streets of the village and have our third espresso. They have yet to be introduced to the Cafe Grande! Our meandering took us past a bank with an ATM just inside the door. Since ATM’s crop up fairly infrequently in this neck of the woods we were enjoying our good fortune until we tried to open the locked door. Not penniless yet, so not a problem. We returned to the farmers market where we had established a fairly jovial relationship with a good humored but semi-toothless vender who had earlier satisfied our lust for our second espresso of the morning. We laughed with her about our dilemma ( my French is actually working quite well) and she laughed in French at us for not knowing that our ATM card also acts as a key get into the Bank. Did any of you Know that? Another tip for the guide book! If any of you plan to travel to France you will be pleased to know that at it is much more pleasant to be laughed at in French than in English! Her parting words “Bonne chance!” Now all cashed up, we bought plenty of provisions in case we miss dinner again tonight.
On to the next village. The roads are narrow, the drivers impatient and the scenery is incredible. It is really a place out of a time gone by but in a good way. This village was on Susan’s to do list but I’m not sure why. Upon our arrival, or perhaps earlier, all the coffee had done it’s work and Susan was in need of a public Water Closet, since not much else was open on a Sunday morning. These also are far and few between and very poorly publicized. After multiple iterations from various sources, and covering, on foot, most of the village streets we located THE publique WC.
Once inside Susan discovered that these do not come equipped with toilet paper or paper towels. As I mentioned yesterday, Susan is an easy traveler and was fairly unfazed when I passed under the door three fairly large leaves that I had harvested by hand from a nearby plant. Hours have now passed and there is no indication that the leaves were allergenic. I have not checked personally but am taking her word for it. Yet another good tip for my future guidebook!
With no real direction, which is the way we travel best, we followed the shoreline of the lake east to another village, Saint-Gingolph, which lies on the border of France and Switzerland. Beautiful place and as luck would have it, a border crossing where we could get that permit for our car. But the place you buy that permit is in Switzerland. Ever cautious, our passports are safely stowed away in our condo. The French border guard told me I could go get the permit but “probably” couldn’t get back into France. C’est la vie! The stars will aligne. Eventually we will get that permit. All was not lost though. We had lunch at a Creperie right on the water. Wine, boats, good food, flowers and France all around. Another “Life doesn’t get any better than this moment!”
One more stop for toilet paper – a travel role for the car!
Celebrating the day with a bottle of local beaujolais. About 5 euros and not worth a penny more! We are stoic. It will be gone by dusk!