Updated: Mar 17
One of the most enjoyable aspects of our barging adventure has been the absence of daily news. We listen to French radio stations to improve our language skills, but they talk so fast that we can only catch a sentence here or there. Life is much more relaxing, and you sleep better at night without the constant input of troubling news. How blissfully our summer passed. There was nothing to worry about except complicated locks, strong river currents, or where to buy bread when all of the village bakers were on vacation in August.
We always knew that we would hear about it right away if there were a significant world event. After all, bad news travels fast. On September 11th, we had just arrived in Briare, and we were still in the middle of mooring along the quay when someone ran out of the boat next to ours and said that a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Like so many other people in the world, our blissful summer ended for us on that day, and we began heading back to Roanne.
Friends from the port were waiting to catch our lines as we moored in our old spot across from the Café Santa Monica. We plugged back into our electric box, reconnected our landline telephone, renewed our membership at the gym, and began to snuggle down for our second winter here.
The sudden loss of so many lives on September 11th and the continuing threat of terrorist attacks reminded us that life is short and that you should live each day to its fullest. We decided that we could do that best in a new car. We biked out to the local Peugeot dealer and found just the one we wanted right there on the lot. We haggled in our best French, enlisted the help of a French friend for the tricky bits, and drove home in a brand new car.
We bought a station wagon so that everyone in the family could have a comfortable seat with a good view.
Now the beautiful countryside surrounding Roanne is ours. Within a ten-minute drive from our boat, we can be out on country roads exploring hillside villages and admiring the scenery as the colors of summer change into the colors of fall.
Visits to Lyon and long lunches with friends at small country restaurants top our list of things to do this winter. On the list, visiting all of the farmers' markets held on different days of the week in the surrounding towns and enjoying local events like the Christmas fair in Saint-Haon-le-Vieux.
Last weekend we invited friends along for a Sunday drive. We were McGooing around the back roads, admiring the scenery, when we stumbled upon a Beaujolais wine fair. We peeked in to see what it was all about and ended up staying for hours chatting with people, tasting and buying great local wines, cheeses, and sausages.
Our quality of life has already improved, and we haven't even left the area yet. If we want, this winter, we can take a trip to Southern France, Italy or Spain. Or we can drive around the local back roads, as we did the other day, looking at horses and cows.
Like the other day, some of them will look back at us, and some of them won't. Either way, it will be great fun.