In a Small French Village.
BEYNAC-This ancient little town is located on the Dordogne River. For me, there is a kind of never-ending wonder in knowing that there were people here, living and working and going about their daily lives in this very town, a thousand years ago. And it’s entirely possible–in fact, it’s likely–that one of those people built the stone wall I was leaning against while catching my breath after climbing a flight of stone steps this morning.
There is, just a hundred feet from the little hotel where I’m staying, a memorial to the people from this village who died in the war. Some died on a distant battlefield, but others died right here. It’s a sobering reminder. And every city, every town, every village has one.
This little hotel–Le Hotel Pontet–is wonderfully typical. Nothing is square or balanced or even. The ground floor area is where the reception is located along with three irregularly shaped rooms that serve as a lounge area and where the hotel breakfast is served.
One of these small rooms, overlooking the narrow street, is where I am typing these words because–alas!–there is no wifi in any of the guest rooms. I have, however, secured permission from Marie, who serves as La Réception in addition to whatever else needs doing, to come downstairs with my laptop as quietly as possible at 1:00 tomorrow morning should I feel the need to watch the Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay live from Fenway Park. Interestingly, my request did not appear to strike Marie as unusual in any way.
French hotel rooms are generally small by American standards, but are smaller still in towns like Beynac. And often oddly shaped. The bed in my room is what I guess we would call King Size, but it takes up most of the room. On one side, I have to shuffle sideways between it and the wall. The shower stall in my bathroom is a real challenge. It’s smaller than a phone booth … so small, I constantly bang my elbows trying to soap up. And forget about bending over.
I had an excellent dinner last night in a restaurant overlooking the Dordogne River. There were eight or ten tables occupied while I was there and the patrons at two of those tables brought their dogs with them. One couple had two identical black dogs–obviously pure-bred animals of some kind–which I would describe as medium-sized. The other animal was literally a lap dog, whose owner kept giving it tidbits throughout the meal. This, of course, never happens in an American restaurant, but is perfectly normal here. In fact, the wait staff last night paused in their duties to politely admire the animals in the same way one would an infant.