Where do these gates lead to? I often find I am asking myself the same question when driving around the French countryside. It is not unusual to come across a pair of magnificent old gates seemingly in the middle of nowhere. These ones happened to be open, but very often they are closed and it is impossible to see through them and in addition they frequently have high walls on either side. If they are also surrounded by trees smothered with foliage then any clues as to what lies beyond is well and truly hidden. In fact one may never get to know.
These gates here ask a different question, because I could clearly see glimpses of the house beyond. But as is also quite common, these gates serve no real purpose aside from marking the beginning of the drive. They do not keep out unwanted two or four legged guests. Once there must have been a wall on either side but when and more importantly why was it removed ?
Take a drive to other other side of the hamlet and one can clearly see the house they lead to. You can also see the wall, it encloses two and a half sides. It’s a stunning property along a tiny, hardly used road. In fact I had never even heard of the village despite passing within a couple of kilometres from it at least once a week.
It was all down to a diversion that has been ongoing for rather a boringly long time.
However, isn’t there always an upside to everything. I have discovered two new little villages, nothing more than tiny hamlets really but with some really pretty cottages and lots of beautiful stone.
And gates, how I love gates, big or small. They mark the entrance to a property and I think they give a hint as to what lies beyond from that very first moment when one releases the catch and pushes them open, often with a creaking hinge moaning slightly at the inconvenience of being moved. But then doesn’t that just tell us more, how often they are used, if indeed at all.
Doors give the same hint as to what lies beyond but are far less revealing but perhaps even more intriguing.
And on the very edge of this little village, a field of self seeded sunflowers, stragglers that despite the autumnal weather are doing their absolute best to brighten a grey day.
That’s country life for you, narrow roads, tiny cottages, grand estates. One doesn’t see a lot of activity and on the surface it’s quite a quiet life. By contrast city life is busier. During this week I have also been to Rochefort a couple of times. It’s only a ten minute drive and it’s one of those towns that is always quite lively whatever the season.
Last weekend we were basking in sunshine and then the new week dawned and along with it much needed rain. The temperature plummeted and the rain persisted, all week. Suddenly it seemed everyone was getting out winter clothing.
But city life is less influenced by the weather than country life.
The florist still sells stunning displays
and the chocolatier still tempts anyone who passes regardless of the season.
So tables and chairs outside cafes remain sparsely unoccupied. But there is still a feeling that life is busy, but in a good way. We don’t stop and say bonjour to everyone we pass in a city, but we do say bonjour to all when we enter a shop and au revoir when we leave.
So which do you prefer ? Town or Country ? Or perhaps like me you like to live in the country but close enough to the town to get the very best of both worlds !