About the Author

author photo

The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

See All Posts by This Author

French Country Life Confidental – Part Three


french country life travel memoirs

(Reading Part One and/or Part Two will bring you up to speed)

Recognize This Guy?

If you remember Ichabod Crane, You’d recognize Rene. Hawk nose. Deep set piercing eyes. High cheekbones. Angular face. And a frame more “fashionably lean” than even da BG! When I tried to visualize him at school, I first thought – President of the chess club. Then, I realized, more likely, brainy loner who refused to join the chess club!

french country life travel memoirsNow, hunched over his computer, heavy curtains barricading the waning Autumnal light, “computer drone” would seem to be the accurate phrase. But then, you’d be hard pressed to explain the lyrical piano music flowing from the living room in the afternoon.

Whenever he needed a break, Rene lost himself in the keys. He was, fortunately, self-taught. Free from the strait-jacket of “instruction.” Expressing maximum emotion with minimum technique. I quickly gave up asking him to show me what He’d played. Because He had no idea. But He did teach me one important thing. How to be free on the keys.

Ah – Country Life

french country travel life memoirs“Papa tractor” – was what Rene’s kids called him. The height of their excitement was to perch on that shiny, red American import, with Papa at the wheel. He was their merry-go-round. And behind that wheel, Rene was at the center of his World. The French countryman. Checking fences. Moving stones. Gathering wood. Fixing what needed it. An idyllic existence. Except for one thing. Rene’s business. Although not in the toilet, it was definitely circling the bowl.

Trouble In Paradise

The problem, was Rene. A businessman of the Twentieth Century attempting business in the twentyfirst. Rene was a gentleman of the old school. Swimming in a school of Baracudas. Handshake contracts. Your word is your bond. He hand crafted his shipping boxes from furniture quality wood. With bevelled edges. Recessed brass screws. A zippered, fabric-lined plastic envelope for the shipping manifest. Artistry that drew comments even from jaded parcel truck drivers.

But Rene’s insistence that clients receive,inspect,and approve of the goods before paying, predictably resulted in a “slow pay/no pay” situation. Guaranteeing the ink in his accounts receivable ledger would be the same colour as his tractor. Rene was a nice guy. And, He was finishing last. Tho’ eating regularly. Thanks to Sacha’s gig at the hospital.

Oh, Never Mind!

french country life travel memoirs

Despite the black clouds, Rene put a positive spin on it all. Whenever a supplier came to lunch, above average grub, wine, and Granny’s silver, all made it to the table. The other occasion in which will triumphed over adversity, was the Sunday visit of Sacha’s parents.

This was a positive, relaxed experience for everyone except Sacha. Owing to the fact her parents thought, that after marrying Rene, (mature, positive influence) Sascha had put her days of nicotine and Bordeaux Red behind her. And She had. They were directly behind her in the liquor cabinet. And would reappear the moment Mummy and Daddy disappeared.

french county life travel memoirsMarie and I enjoyed Sascha’s performance almost as much as the grub. Usually We gave her an Oscar. And I gave them all an Oscar in the category of : “Most-excessive-smoking-ever-by- three-French-people-during-aperitifs.” As you are well aware, dear reader, the aperitif ritual is numero uno on the list of all things French and sacred. To imagine the fate of any guest A.W.O.L. from this holiest of holies, is to contemplate an end more horrific than a long shower at the Bates Motel!

The Musical Solution

french country life travel memoirsFortunately, after my first night of lung-filled conviviality, I was able to finesse a solution. Positioning myself downwind, while surfing the conversation as I “noodled” on the guitar; I was able to move back further. So as to “noodle” in the correct position.

I should explain here that “noodling”, while technically “playing”,is not “playing a tune.” Nor is it, in my case,“improvising.” Suffice to say, it’s “musical”, but you can’t hum along. Fortunately, the puffing-gabbing-drinking brigade did’nt care.


french country life travel memoirs

I don’t know whether Rene revived his business. Or Marie sold hers. Or if Sascha is still working at the hospital.If changes did come, I suspect they, like the fog that cocoons the fields at dawn, crept in slowly. Without fanfare. My hope, of course, is they got more of what they needed. On their terms.


What are ya thinkin’?


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

11 Responses to “French Country Life Confidental – Part Three”

  1. alison worthy says:

    can’t tell you how much i’ve enjoyed these series. So refereshingly different from all the recycled, cliche “adventures” that present themselves as “an inside look.”

  2. randy posner says:

    sound like a hoot! keep this good stuff comin’!

  3. greta steiner-ross says:

    Your country life posts just keep keep getting better and better.
    do you get to sleep sometimes? (lol!)

  4. albert parvent says:

    Won’t ever think french country life is boring after reading this.
    p;s. loved your section on “noodling.”

  5. Cynthia Allison-Carr says:

    I can totally relate to your description of the aperitf ritual. The first time I experienced it, I could’nt believe the amount of smoke!
    I though it was horrible – but everyone else seemed to think
    it was normal!

  6. bob tomasson says:

    “60” minutes could really use someone like you.

  7. constance lavery says:

    I have an Uncle, much like Rene. As you put it a businessman of the “Old School.” Sadly, his business did not “revive.” I hope your friend Rene had better luck. Cheers again for another brill post.

  8. juanita juarez says:

    i read with much interest this writing. always i am glad to see what yopu are writing; thank you.

  9. sven landstromm says:

    Your portraits of the French people in the country and their liestyles are the most honet, perceptive, and refreshingly interesting that I have seen. Online and Off.

  10. lani severs says:

    what i like most about your posts is that they’re not the usual clich-ridden ramlings about how perfect and one sides french country life is. you show all the faces and the pimples!

  11. horace greenfell-dent says:

    Your always authentic, always perceptive essays are a breath of fresh air in the too polluted internet landscape. Never doubt that your comittment to excellence is appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...