From The Corner Of A French Café

It’s breakfast time and the clientage are a mixed bunch, drawn from different parts of Western Europe and North Africa.

A small huddle stand outside smoking, whilst inside the sunlight streams through dusty air bringing the summer into the room, the Mistral is still Le Petit and just a gentle breeze wafts in.

Pierre, who is washing dishes, is singing along to Scott Mackenzie on the radio. He tells me that he likes Harley Davidsons and one day will ride across America on one, straight to San Francisco like the song. We talk rugby and motor bikes, he supports Toulouse but isn’t offended when I tell him I like Clermont Auvergne.

A French couple wander in for “petit dej”, Pierre insults then loudly and raucous laughter ensues! A smiling lady appears and Giles the waiter/general help kisses her on both cheeks, then just for luck a big smacker right on the lips, more laughter! Work, yes, but hey you’ve got to enjoy it as well!

I order another coffee and Pierre moves towards it with a bottle of Marc. No thanks mon ami, far too early in the day for me and I’ve got a long ride ahead! Pierre shrugs, “pas de problème, d’accord.” “No worries, I understand.”

I’m finding it hard to drag myself away from this place, Le Café de Quatre Vents. It’s pretty timeless, so laid back and so welcoming. Got to move though, off to Mont Ventoux this morning, Pierre calls it “La Bête de Provence,” The Beast of Provence, it’s quite an icon in these parts.

Ventoux is also the mountain were Tommy Simpson died on Le Tour back in the 1960’s. He had handfuls of pills in his pockets and goodness knows how many inside him as well as brandy. Strangely he is still almost revered by the French and respected by road cyclists all over Europe, despite the circumstances of his death. Different times I guess.

Time to draw myself away, before I am lulled into lingering longer by the lilting French song on the radio.

Au revoir my new friends, a bientôt! Let’s go find the ghost of Tommy.

“Well it’s alright ridin’ around in the breeze, well it’s alright, if you live the life you please.”




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