Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Hit and a Miss

Just about the time I think I have this French system of doing things figured out, reality strikes.As it did yesterday with a big miss! I planned to attend the Parisot International Art Festival. Edith and I went last year and enjoyed wandering around the tiny village visiting various artists and viewing their creations. I knew the dates, and I assumed the open times would be like most businesses in for a few hours in the morning, then closed for the obligatory 2 hour lunch from 12 noon to 2 pm, then open again for the afternoon and evening. Imagine how surprised I was to arrive at the first venue in Parisot at 2:30 pm and find the door locked tight! Only then did I read the fine print on the advertising 10 am to 1 pm, then closed until 4:30 pm. What?! I could hardly believe that the artists would work through the sacred lunch hour, but all the locked studios proved that they would and did.

So, never one to admit defeat, I changed my plan and drove to St. Projet, another little village in the neighborhood. A visit to the Chateau of the Reine Margot has been on my 'to do' list since last summer, so I decided this was the time to check it out. And this is where I met Quentin, my 'company' for my tour through the Chateau. I opted not to do the guided tour since my French isn't quite up to rapid-fire explanations, and I already knew the story of Queen Margot's visit. So, I did the visite accompagne which meant Quentin showed me around. With strict instructions from his dad to speak English to me ("It will be good practice for you," he said) we set off. This visit was a definite hit! Quentin was charming, offering to take my photo with various artifacts, holding my bag for me, cheerfully posing for photos himself, and answering all my best 'grandmother' questions. How old are you? Where do you go to school? What will you study at University? Turns out Quentin is 14 years old, goes to high school in Montauban  where he boards during the week coming home to St. Projet on weekends (a lot of French children do this), and he wants to study business at university. When I asked what kind of business, thinking he'd say something like selling computers or cars, he told me he wants to design and sell clothes! He loves fabric and design and was quick to point out the fabrics on some of the antique furniture and bedcoverings. I teased him a bit about becoming the next Jean-Paul Gaultier or Yves St. Laurent, and he modestly said 'Oh no, they're big!' But maybe someday Quentin will be 'big' too. If so, you heard it here first!

He was a delightful young man, and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. When the tour ended and it was time to tip the guide, I gave him all the change in my pocket...probably close to 5 euros. I'm sure it was the biggest tip he's ever gotten in his 14 years. My reward? An 'au revoir, Madame' when I left and two kisses...French children are so polite!

Stay tuned for the story of the Chateau and its famous visitor next time.


  1. Life is full of coincidences! Having lived here for 16 years, we have never been to the Chateau de Saint-Project - an omission that I rectified last week when my brother was staying. Am also planning to blog about it. Look forward to seeing your photos.

    This year they decided not to open the Art Festival in the early afternoon, since in previous years it has been very hot and they have had few visitors during those hours. Unfortunately, they didn't publicise this quite as well as they might have done. It's still on today (Sunday) if you can manage a visit.

  2. ..and, of course, I meant Saint-Projet.