It’s a pretty Saturday morning in Bourges.
I am leading a group of North American travelers around Paris and “the Heart of France.” The Heart of France. Bourges qualifies indeed. For one, it’s located in a region named “Centre-Val de Loire.”
It’s almost my neck of the woods. I enjoy visiting this historic town and celebrated a birthday here just a few weeks before the country shut down in March 2020.
My favorite part? Strolling through the narrow lanes of the historic district lined with boutiques and half-timbered homes. If I am in town at the right time, I shop at the covered food market. There I visit the old-fashioned “rémouleur” (who’s sharpened my Opinel picnic knife on a couple of occasions).
We arrived last night and toured the cathedral before sampling a hearty dinner at a local restaurant near place Gordaine. We slept well.
This morning travelers and their tour guide have a few hours to rest or explore before moving on to the next stop.
After breakfast, I head out of our comfortable hotel and walk down a long flight of stairs by le Palais Jacques Coeur, once a lavish residence, now a landmark managed by Le Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
In the 15th century, Jacques Coeur, a successful businessman and financier, paid a high price for showing off his wealth and overshadowing the King of France. Jacques Coeur, Gilles Berthelot, Jacques de Beaune-Semblançay, Fouquet: Don’t they ever learn, those powerful men?
“Pour vivre heureux, vivons caché” (to live happily let’s live in hiding) a favorite French saying that must have been coined after their time.
I don’t go straight to the market. It’s more fun to explore the peaceful streets first, and I savor the moment.
Sidewalks are narrow near the neighborhood church, Eglise Saint-Pierre.
I hear a sound behind me and step aside to look back.
A gentleman is walking towards me, a vision in white from his hair to his comfortable, slightly creased linen attire.
Summery vibes. It’s been a lovely week in June.
He nods at me and walks by slowly, slightly stooped. The years have taken a toll.
On his feet, sandals. He is ready to tackle Bourges’ cobbled streets.
Old school elegance… All his outfit needs is a bright flower in his jacket’s buttonhole.
Or does it?
He is pulling France’s favorite shopping accessory, “le caddie” also known as “le chariot” or “la poussette.”
Magenta. A welcome pop of color.
Off he goes, leading the way towards Bourges’ covered food market, la Halle au Blé.
My French life.
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