P1090318One of the things that never fails to astonish me in France is driving along the autoroute–mostly just as soul-sapping as the U.S. Interstate–and then spotting a château, or at least the fairytale towers of one, in the distance.

Despite nearly two decades in Europe, my jaw still drops every time. The A61 autoroute has a great lookout point for admiring la Cité of Carcassonne, too.P1090320I apologize for the spottiness of posts over the holidays; I had prepared photos so I could write while we were visiting the Carnivore’s family, and then I went and paid attention to the people in front of me instead of to my screen. It was all very nice, with obscene amounts of rich food. I’ll share some highlights later.

We drove across France through the last dregs of Storm Carmen, although the rain didn’t get ugly until we turned east. At times, through Dordogne, it was so foggy we could barely see the taillights of the car ahead of us. Roadside broom bushes were already covered with yellow flowers because of the unseasonable warmth. It was 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) at 7 this morning. On Jan. 3!!!!

And there were others that didn’t turn out.

At this time of the year, it’s customary to bestow best wishes on one’s friends and family. Usually Jan. 1 is the day the young pay visits to their elders, although at a certain age that gets tricky. One relative was juggling visits from grown children with visits to some aged aunts. Who is “elder” is a moving target.

One can extend wishes throughout the month of January, and cartes de voeux, or “best wishes” cards, are as big if not bigger than Christmas cards. In person, everyone recites the same formula, like a national mantra for good luck: “Meilleurs voeux, et surtout la santé!” or “best wishes, and above all good health!” And they distribute two or three or four kisses then look you straight in the eye while insisting on the good health part. Because not everybody in the world is cynical; plenty of people–even most, I’d bet–have good hearts and sincerely care.

So if you were here, I would take you by the shoulders and distribute, left/right/left, la bise, and then hold your hand in mine and tell you, sincerely, that I wish you all the best for 2018, and, above all, good health. You’ll have to make do with the virtual version.



26 thoughts on “Roadside Attractions et Bonne Année

  1. And in turn I wish you and your family a year full of good surprises and a few dreams come true (however small) to add glitter to what I hope is a healthy and happy year for you. That château – very cute …. where though? I love driving across France, which is fortunate because I have done rather a lot of it. One of the things they do SO brilliantly here are the brown signs telling you what is coming up and sometimes with an arrow pointing exactly in the direction of whatever it is they want to draw your attention to. Genius. Toodlepip 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was along the A20 between Limoges and Cahors, but I couldn’t tell you exactly. I shot a bunch of others, but they came out too blurry, and I have no idea which is where.


  2. We delivered New Year cards to friends and neighbours for the first time this year because it felt like the right thing to do.

    Everyone seems to have genuinely appreciated this.

    I very much like our Mayor’s Facebook message that wished us all good things, “but particularly good health, as with that anything is possible”

    I completely concur with that sentiment

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes the countryside–the fields, the cows, the woods–look very similar to parts of the U.S. And then some ancient village goes by, or some castle, and I think, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that is the coolest part, that there is these old castles, etc. I love open fields of green but sometimes you go through these super run down cities driving through the U.S and you question where you really are!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonne Année….we can certainly hope that 2018 proves to be a more amiable twelve months. All we can do is take it one day at a time. I miss driving by the vineyards and spotting a hill village and ruined churches and castles in the distance. Yes we’re planning….


    Liked by 1 person

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