Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flashback - Nuits-St-Georges

Back when I was a student and in France, one day I took a spontaneous trip to the next town south, Nuits-St-Georges, for an afternoon. 

The train ticket guy eyed me suspiciously when I asked to purchase these three items at the same time: 

1. A ticket to Baden Baden, Germany to leave in two days
2. A ticket to Lausanne to leave in nine days
3. A ticket to the neighboring town on the next available train

On the lam, surely. 

In truth, I was trying to see as many little pockets of Europe as I could in the time I had. Before you leave for a big trip somewhere, you have this idea that you're going to go everywhere. But as a student, it was almost scary how a certain complacency started to take over once the reality of how much things cost set in, on a student budget. But before you know it, there you are, in France, not seeing everything you set out to. And that to me was intolerable.

In revolt of this I marched down Rue Sambin one day after class in October and made my way through the square up to the gare, ready to "go somewhere." And preferably alone since any accompaniment would surely add complication and concession. I strode up to the ticket counter, trying my best to prepare myself for the rapid fire 24-hour clock available train times that the ticket guy would doubtlessly fire at me the moment I squeaked "One round trip ticket!", after which I would most likely then stand there silently for at least four seconds while trying to do the math in my head and remind myself that yes, once again and forevermore, 19 hours means 7pm. Sorry, I didn't grow up on a military base. 

At any rate, once the transactions were completed he uttered one bon voyage for three tickets, and I was off to Nuits-St-Georges in 12 minutes. 

Nuits-St-Georges is the northern end of the Bourgogne wine region, or the Cote d'Or, just south of Dijon. If you look for French wines in the US, you will often find bottles with this town's name on them.

Here is the lovely little main street scene with its Burgundian rooftops adorned with stars and other green, yellow, and red designs. I stopped for a kir in the Cafe de Paris.

As I was walking around the town, there were all sorts of beautiful fall colors in the vines and trees and surrounding hillsides, but I was kind of annoyed with myself for not doing any research on the town or seeking out anything in it specifically. It felt like there was no one around and that maybe it was a little in vain just to show up somewhere and expect something but not really know what. I had only given myself a few hours to explore before I needed to head back to Dijon. 

On my way back to the train station I paused for a moment to take in a quaint looking handwritten sign advertising local businesses. At that moment, two elderly Frenchmen came strolling down the sidewalk and along past the sign. They completely fit into the scene and before I knew what I was saying I blurted out "Est-ce je peux prendre votre photo?" I fully expected them to say "No, you CANNOT take our photo, mademoiselle!" and immediately wished I hadn't asked. Instead, smiles spread across their faces and they nodded and exclaimed "Bah oui!"One of them licked his hand to smooth back his few remaining hairs with a look of self-conscious concern, and the other adjusted his vest and collar. I assured them "No, please, you're perfect like that. Please just stand right where you are." 

One click, one perfect picture. Then they continued on and back into their lives. This, as it turned out, was the one perfect moment that I came to Nuits-St-Georges for. 

I never got their names, but to me they are clearly Maurice and Jacques.

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