I am overwhelmingly impressed by the quietude and quaintness of village life in the South of France. I am in Anduze now- I don’t know if anyone has ever even heard of this place- and I feel as if I am in a world apart from the information that comes flying over my computer screen. News of this and blog posts of that . . . Andy is in the Philippines making jokes about vagina repair services, Ubertramp is in England doing some wild things with his website, and I am sitting in this nowhere land that is hemmed in by large granite cliffs that block out the world. I write on my website about what I am doing, but I fail to believe that anyone is out there beyond the cliffs to read it. I have found the peak of seclusion.
Anduze is called the door of Cevennes, as it is the gateway to the southern mountains of France. The soaring cliffs demand that everything that goes into the mountains must come through this village first. To show the world how important this little town is, a long-gone mayor of the 17thcentury decided that he would bring something from China to display in the streets. The reasoning being that if a European village had something from China four hundred years ago then it must be important. So a little Chinese pagoda is now on display in the center of Anduze. It is still there, and Anduze is still thought to be important because of it.
I am really taken aback by this amazing little village. Everybody seems to know everyone else, the streets and buildings are as they were in medieval times, and there are stories which demand to be heard from every notch in the town. This place is living history.
The people in Anduze also look as ancient as the village itself. Their faces are misshapen to extremes: large cow eyes peer out of elongated, impossibly thin faces, fat heads give way to pointy ears and bald heads with scraggly locks of hair hanging oddly off the sides, and teeth adorn the mouths of but a few of the villages residents. The people here look as if they were taken out of medieval fairy tale . . . and they probably were.
Mira was amazed when she first began taking in the contorted faces of village France. “I use to think that the faces in impressionist paintings were exaggerations,” she said, “but these people have the same faces as in the paintings. The impressionists were not exaggerating, the people really do look like that.”
It is true, these small village French look as if they stepped out of the ages. I am amazed every time I step out into these streets.