I wake up to blue skies. At least in the literal sense. Like the birds, I’m atwitter.
I said I was going to walk to Pontoise on the first sunny day, but something pulls me in the opposite direction.
This is actually a test to see how far a city girl like me can walk without the stimuli of millions of things to covet in store windows.
I can barely make it a store-free block without extreme boredom in Manhattan, so I fear that the all the natural beauty (not available for purchase) will be less than I can bear.
I prepare with a good, hearty breakfast, which for me is coffee and yogurt. I get dressed, making sure to wear something mildly becoming in case some handsome, age appropriate vintner happens to be strolling as well. By 10:30AM, I’m off.
I practice French as I walk…mostly the r rolling thing, as I’ve decided that’s the key. I mutter to myself “ Merchkkkci…merchkkkci. Bonjourchkk….Bonjourchkkk. S’il vous plait, ou se trouve un slurpee?”
Once I exit the outskirts of Auvers, I start to panic. How will I get back? What if I can’t get back and collapse of dehydration? It’s very sunny. I better go back to the house to prevent skin cancer. I will die if I don’t turn back now. I have had similar sensations leaving the island of Manhattan for Queens. But that was Queens, for godsake. This is somewhere between Auvers and Butry Sur Oise.
Bravely I continue into unfamiliar territory. It looks sort of like Auvers, but it’s not. I see nothing familiar. Sure, there are trees, flowers, cute old shuttered houses, hills, but they aren’t the same trees or flowers or houses or hills. I didn’t even bring any ID if I get hit by a truck. But as I keep walking I get lulled by the ever chirping birds. And the smell of flowers in the air. Everyone’s garden is blooming and every house has its own perfume. I’m starting to feel pretty good. But isn’t that how lost hikers feel right before they die?
A church bell chimes 11 times. Jeez, it feels like lunchtime, at least.
I continue practicing French as I continue onward.
Bonjourchkkk. Aidez moi s’il vous plait, monsieurchkkk. J’habille en Auvers. Prennez moi ca s’il vous plait. Je suis…lost. J’ai soif. Merchkkkci.
I keep telling myself to turn back, but I trudge onward as I’m sure there’s some lovely boutique just around the next bend.
No boutiques, just more stone houses, beautiful gardens, greenery and a million perfumes. Man, they should bottle these scents. And sell them at the boutique that’s got to be around the next corner.
I’ll tell you why the French are slimmer than Americans—they have to be. Their roads and sidewalks are so narrow, a mere 10 pounds overweight could render one immobile. I’m thin and still find myself walking sideways a lot, my back hunched up against a hedge or fence.
I smile at each passing bike rider in case they’re cute, while chanting my mantra to myself: Bonjourchkkk. Aidez moi s’il vous plait, monsieurchkkk. J’habille en Auvers. Prennez moi ca s’il vous plait. Je suis…lost. J’ai soif. Merchkkkci.
I’m now in the center of town. It’s so cute I can’t stand it. Tiny old stone buildings with brightly colored shutters on a narrow stone road that winds through. But there’s not one little store or restaurant open. And I am weak and faint from thirst and famine. The church bell strikes noon. I must flee back to Auvers. I must buy a quiche…or something.
I think next time I go wandering, I’ll check out L’Isle Adam, a town or two further. It’s supposed to be a lovely old town with a great beach…on a river. And little stores. This I have to see.
But maybe next time, I’ll take the train.
Filed under: france on a budget, travel Tagged: | Auvers sur Oise, boutiques, budget France, Butry sur oise, france on a budget, hike, learning french, Life in France, living abroad, rain, shopping, stroll, travel, travel humor, Val D'Oise, walk