Inspired by the Fournier's novel and the Sideways movie me and my good ole flat mate Rob decided to explore some hidden regions of the mysterious France... to discover that the Village People of YMCA fame should have been stopped a long time ago.
Sideways is a great film. It really inspired me. Soon after I bought the "bluffer guide to Wine" and I started bluffing my way as wine connoisseur at random London restaurants. Few times I even refused to drink the bottle of wine because it was tainted or because it was too tannic, "even if I appreciate the earthy and spicy showing lots of structure". Usually the waiters looked at me in a disgusted way.
Probably nobody ever refuses to drink from some £ 15 wine bottle.
But wine wasn't this time the only excuse to get out of a London already turning to grey skies after a spectacular end of summer.
You see, Robert, my Irish flat mate, has never been abroad. So after many (at least twice) aborted attempts to take him in the European world, this time I managed to convince him to leave London and see the civilized world out there. We chose to go to Tours and drive in the south eastern section of the Loire Valley, looking for Le Grand Meaulnes, an interesting French book on which he's researching (for good trips you need good excuses, my rule)
Not many people know about Alain Fournier first and only fictional work. The poor French fellow died in action in the First World War, at the tender age of 27. He wrote Le Grand Meaulnes, the romantic story about the delicate passage between childhood and adulthood. In England was known as The Lost Domain or the Wanderer, but the original title is much better.
Kind of the French version of Catcher in the Rye or a sort of The body/Stand by me if you are a Stephen King fan.
I read the book probably two years ago (Rob gave it to me) and I really enjoyed it. It's probably impossible to find a common experience to identify the end of the childhood, because it is a very personal experience. In my personal case, it was the summer of 1990: seeing Italy losing to Argentina at the penalties in the semifinal of the World Cup that was held in my country and few weeks later watching my first porn.
In Fournier's case, the experience was much more romantic, with neither football nor porn involved. Different times.
Anyway, with Rob still not totally convinced (I guess that leaving the British Islands was a very big step for him) we left in an early Friday morning to reach Stansted and, after a short 2 hours flight, we landed in Tours.