French Country Travel Life Saints are everywhere here. Down every obscure byway. In villages and cities. Always ready willing and able to effortlessly shower you with their self-less help and hospitality.
As you would expect, I’ve met many in my zillion and a half years of surfing the French Country Backroads. But two of the best I’m still in touch with. Is it just a coincidence that they share the same surname as the famous French religious celebration – “Toussaint?” (All Saints)
Whatever your take on coincidental veritie – Bernard and Marie-Andre Toussaint are the real saintly deal.
Example: They’re driving along a Northern country road and stop to offer a ride to a not too young heavily backpacked couple.
When the Toussaints find out this couple’s mission is to WALK to the South of France(can you say: “EXTREME?”) They kidnap them for two weeks of saintly R ‘n R at the Toussaint sanctuary.
My introduction to the natural goodness of Bernard and Marie-Andre began on a drizzly autumn day. One that was definitely promising to accelerate it’s quantity and force soon.
While, admittedly not the brightest light in the intellectual sky, I do have enough sense to come in out of the rain.! And Bernard and Marie-Andre’s door did look inviting. To be clear – not just “convenient” but inviting.
Was it the way the house was nestled in a mini-park with tall trees? It’s position farthest away from the road? The circular “come hither” driveway?
No idea. But it definitely called to me. And I answered the call. Marie-Andre answered my knock. With an instant genuine smile. And before I could say word one, She stated the obvious: “You’re all wet…..come in…”
Now, wouldn’t most people’s first reaction be: “Who is this tall, wet stranger with a guitar on his back? And why is he knocking on our door?”
And if they were inclined to be hospitable, wouldn’t most folks say: “you’re all wet…..so take off your wet stuff before you come in?”
Bernard was quickly summonded and introduced. He quickly introduced me to some of his dry clothes.
Then, as you would expect, the obvious question for the exotic stranger from the far away lands: “Are you hungry?”
A former air traffic control supervisor, Bernard had taken an early retirement. An Active one. Tennis, Photography (winner of several Nikon competitions) playing guitar in a 50’s music rock n’ roll band with other retirees. Appropriately, and whimsically named “The Old Rabbit Skins.” Before retirement, add solo rock climbing (the chalky hands and no net kind) and motorcycle riding. The latter ended voluntarily.
Marie-Andre was a former solo acrobatic pilot. So – you can probably guess where and how they met. Can you not? Sadly, unlike Bernard ‘s voluntary “fini” to motorcycling, Marie Andre had a mandatory end to her solo flight career. You gotta quit at 50. (the diminishing reflexes thing.)
Since it was ordained that I would be spending the night Marie-Andre escorted me to my room. But, it wasn’t a room. It was a SUITE! Think large living room with huge sunken tub, monster bed, two adjoining wash basins with seperate mirrors, small cozy terrace with a view onto the other side of their not so mini-park. (Catch yer breath yet?)
Saints. Gotta love ’em – yeah?
Part Two – Next Time
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?