Saturday, November 5, 2011

" We are complete"

 Much to my surprise, I absolutely fell in love with the French sense or order. It is evident everywhere! Certainly in the shop windows, but also in every village, along  narrow country roads as well as along the super slabs. In ancient cities or great cities like Paris which is both old and new. The French love beauty too, in all it's forms.  The French expression of order combined with their love, respect and attention to all things beautiful  made my heart strum. Seriously, I am not sure I had a coherent conversation the whole time I was there. The absorption  of all things French commanded my attention.

In no way was the French passion for order more prevalent that at mid-day. A respite from 12:30 until 2:00 is sacred. Shops, banks, offices all close for lunch. Lunch is served most particularly within the assigned hours. Not before and certainly not after.  Foolish Americans who cannot understand this  importance or manage their time suitably,  go hungry. Literally. If you fail to make it to a restaurant, a cafe, a sidewalk bistro within that time frame, you will not be served. The French are quite charming in telling you  this.
Some starched, beautifully groomed individual will give you a horrified look before coming to your side to announce themselves , "Desolate Madame. Desolate. We are complete"

I was "desolate" a lot in France. Which is fine because a very simple lunch often cost $30, or more.  I was thinking if I had made it to lunch more often I would have had to wash some china. What was remarkable to me, besides how loud my stomach could grumble, was the differences in how food business is organized there, as compared to here. I've never worked in the food industry so my understanding of how things are done here is  from the viewpoint of a consumer  or as a project designer for a restaurant or cafe. In France, often the places will have a posted menu but equally often what they have is a hand lettered chalkboard with a listing of the days offerings. If for instance, lunch for a Tuesday is planned to provide 40 servings of a  fine pork cassoulet, a salade vert and an entire baguette then  that is what there is. When the servings have all been served, lunch is "complete". In restaurants where the larders are larger, they might not serve all their portions but at 2pm, I assure you, lunch is also "complete".  It's okay though, the views everywhere  fill your soul.


Pam said...

But you must have the surly waiter story to share with others! It is required! Beautiful photos Fishy! My sister-in-law (who lives there) says she has tried to figure out what makes the French women so chic, and she thinks it isn't what they wear but more how they accessorize. Maybe that is very French, how things are arranged and presented. Perhaps?

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

That sense of order you found so lovely is why I think the entire country is so chic... they are a "quality over quantity" culture and therefore, everything is done well. and not to excess. Sooooo not the U.S.

Beautiful photos! Is this the new camera

Sharon Rudd said...

Ahh, so lovely and charming. Gorgeous photos, and I am hungry :) Thanks for letting me armchair travel!

fishy said...

I've answered 3 times and then blogger throws me off.

moi said...

Blogger is really being a biatch these days . . .

I loved eating in France, LOVED it. My favorite places for lunch in Paris were those little buffet-style cafeterias, where for $10, I could get some brie and ham on a slab of bread, a little salad, and a glass of red wine. Are they still there, do you know?

And while I love the idea of closing for nearly two hours every day in the heat of the day, I was not a fan of eating my last meal at nine, ten o'clock at night. It wasn't so bad when I was in Paris since I was on my own and had control over my time. But the month I spent living with friends in Cannes was torture. In order for me to stay up late, I have to be doing something other than snorting endless courses of food and wine over the span of several hours. It was at this point that I developed a taste for Gauloises. Purely out of necessity.

chickory said...

hilarious. some starched super groomed minion telling you they are complete!! i love all the photos -the best is about midway with the red chairs and the nesting babushka things hanging. What a great trip!! are you also going to post about the trick or treating horses?

fishy said...

No I don't, not a surly attitude in sight. Very courteous, even charming. Some truly were desolate about the poor witless American but ....

THE accessory of choice is the scarf. Every man, woman, child, most dogs and even the occasional priest wear scarves. There are even tiny shops, more colorful than Spring gardens, with floor to ceiling scarves of every description. I wanted them all! There are some junky, touristy places offering polyester horrors but most are beautiful wovens of silk, flax, linen, cotton, cashmere, wools or combinations.
Trust me, the French can upgrade the simplest attire with the perfect scarf. It is an art form.

I think I am in withdrawal, I am researching which credit cards offer the most sky miles. Sigh .... this from a woman who does not use credit cards.
You cannot believe.... no littering and no billboards .... just exquisite vistas. The inherent respect for beauty in all things is .... something America could import.

If I were more of a foodie I would have you drooling over photographs.

I also am a morning person so I had a hard time with places which did not offer the opportunity to have a cup of tea before 9am. I could never be a successful Spaniard, although I did try once.

I spent a day in that photograph making a piece of stained glass!

There was a woman having lunch in the square with her pet crow. She kept it tethered to her wrist. That bird shrieked at her when she was feeding herself more than the crow. Very Poe. Slightly creepy.

Those paper matruskas were on a clothesline, outside an art studio. The area is sort of an artists square... I wish I had looked in more windows.

Soon I am going to do a blog of just images ... right after I tell you all about my love for
Saint Amadour's Rock.

moi said...

I hear ya. I suppose I could be a successful Spaniard if, say, Antonio Banderas were guiding my transformation. And if good music and/or good company is involved, I can do a late night here and there. Otherwise, I'm pretty much one of those annoying early to bed, early to risers. And if I can't get a cup of coffee first thing, I get really cranky.

Jenny said...

er, having traveled with Moi I'd just like to second the fact that she really does require coffee.

fishy said...

Moi ..... Antonio is a fine incentive! Two of my sisters are pretty serious coffee addicts... they absolutely have to have hits within a few minutes of awakening. They also are night owls, not early to early like us and...well, they are blondes.

LOL your Moi testimonial! See answer above.
Yes! I did take my new camera. The truth is I had to think twice about it because it requires it's own luggage . Glad I did, that shot of the chateau, village and bridge was taken from about a half mile away. You just cannot get that image with a 10x pocket camera. Did you do the thing where you can look at each picture larger? the details! Lighting inside chateaus is very low level and yet, there is no light bounce or glare or loss of detail. I was so surprised you could see the actual weave of that ancient tapestry and really, the colors are spot on too.
Now, I want to learn to take really awesome photographs. Oh ... I meant to mention the dragon in the courtyard is papier mache!

Aunty Belle said...

may I concur? I seen pretty wee hamlets, neat as a pin--mayhap modest, but nary a gum wrapper nor a weedy patch. that haint blue I'se seein' in some of them photos? Heh.

moi said...

@Aunty: No one can do the color blue like the French.

@Boxer: Remember that stuff you brought to Chickory? That wasn't coffee. That was methamphetamine.

@Fishy: and...well, they are blondes. Bwahahahahaha! So, you do know you're going to have to tell the story of how you almost became a Spaniard :o) Also, your comment about the French and scarves. YES. Did you visit Hermes by any chance? If so, you probably know what I mean. If you didn't, then . . . don't. Your non-credit-card-using self will thank me.

Kymical Reactions said...

Oh Fishy! I am so happy for your trip! Your photos are stunning. Husband (before he was husband) and I made a weekend trip to Paris once. It is my most favorite place I've ever seen. I agree, the French see the beauty in the simple things.

fishy said...

Oh yes, I made the pilgrimage to St. Honore and the total Hermes immersion experience. There is a reason the scarves are presented like fine jewelry. More on the whole Hermes experience when I get to the Paris post.

One day, I will come to a bloggers campfire where someone will give me a mason jar of firewater and at some point I will tell the story of Patricio.

Sooooo exciting to hear from you.
Kudos for choosing to find a way to be the Mama all the time. It's a sacrifice you will never regret.

Paris was very, very wonderful. My only real disappointment was the weather because it was overcast the entire visit so I never truly got to experience the famous light. Definitely a reason to return.

moi said...

Taps right foot for Hermes, left foot for Patricio . . .

Aunty Belle said...

next post, puhleeeeeze

moi said...

Still tapping . . .