I began the day behind the wheel of a 1989 Citroen Deux Chevaux, that classic little car the symbolizes France. We chugged over narrow roads, past fields of wheat and sunflowers, and through ancient villages where the iconic cars were greeted with smiles.
Didier Montarras has made a career out of restoring and renting out these colorful little chariots, and what a perfect place to drive them! He has 12 of them and they’re all brightly colored and have appeared in countless commercials, movies and at many special events.
Our winding journey took us to the great river Garonne, and to a spectacular film presentation that showed the long history of flooding that this river has subjected the village Couthures-sur-Garonne to. The villagers used to take all of their clothes and hang them by the attic rafters, and set up pullies to raise up the furniture in case the dikes broke…which they last did in 1981. In the theater presentation called Gens de Garonne, they showed old scenes of catching lamprey eels in the river and clever villagers harvesting free wood that came floating by to use for building and firewood. The seats of the auditorium raised up and down to bring us to the levels experienced by the villagers.
An woman from England told us how sweet the villagers were to her when her husband passed away. “In England nobody knows what to say when somebody dies. Here, people just came up, hugged me, and cried with me, and they were so sweet it touched me so much.” She’s one of several happy expat Brits we’ve met in this remote and mostly tourist bereft part of Southwest France.
Now I’m sitting looking out the window at sauternes grapes being grown at Chateau d’Arche, which we’ll savor tonight. So much more to share, I promise to be back soon, stuffed and full of wonderful tales from this gorgeous part of France.