The Good Life, the Old Life, the Delicious Life, in Le Mans, France
September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Apparently very few people, French, tourists or otherwise, know that Le Mans is/was an extremely important medieval city. I certainly did not know until I spent the last few days there by chance, for research. The historic center (La Cité Plantagenêt) is beautiful, not only is it perfectly (but perhaps for the local economy depressingly) empty, you can literally feel the history, the stories of all that has taken place there over the centuries, with every step you take, with every stone or wooden wall that you touch with every cloudy window that you peer through. Or at least the over-active imagination of this librarian-historian imagined that I could. I wandered up and down the narrow cobblestone streets, through tiny passages and under teetering overpasses.
I smelled flowers, I even leaned over and smelled a mossy stone wall. Of course I am someone who loves to smell musty old books too. But I feel as though I can smell life, death, history and possibility in these remnants of the past.
There are incredible apartments for rent all over this ancient city core, and I seriously asked myself, over and over, if I could live there. The answer feels kind of like yes.
Less than an hour by train from Paris, minutes from the countryside, from farms and forests and endless footpaths, free-range chickens and fresh honey and almost every fruit you can imagine. This is how I spent the rest of my time, when I was not working of course: jogging, not seeing a soul, picking and eating blackberries, pears and apples from the sides of the path, cutting grapes from a friend’s garden-green and black-also picking tomatoes and basil and walnuts. And I was sent back to Paris with three small jars of homemade preserves, made from homegrown produce-fig jam, pear compote, and wild blueberry and cassis jelly. Heaven. Deliciousness. Luxuriousness of flavor and freshness and the emotion and personality that is imbued into any food that is so close to those who grew and prepared it. I am lucky enough to have nothing more to do than to eat it.