Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day 77 – Where does Route de Ferney take you to?

To Ferney, of course, as I discovered today by jumping in yet another random bus. Ferney is in France, and is actually called Ferney-Voltaire because it grew around the summer residence of the famous French thinker. Nowadays it is a charming French city, with a lively Farmers Market on Saturday, where the legendary love of the French for “la bonne cuisine” is very much in evidence. I had a great time ambling through the market stalls, and spent way too much money at the local bookstore buying a book-in-CD “Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban”. Before you start making fun of me let me add that this is a learning investment, because I need to hear clearly spoken French as much as possible. Yes, I should have probably bought the collected works of Voltaire instead of a kids book, but (1) I needed a book where the story was known to me, so I can concentrate on pronunciation, and (2) the French have not yet discovered the joys of books-on-tape (like having the text read by a very good actor), so there is precious little available.

When I got back home, Auréle was up and ready to go, so we decided to go out for a little driving practice. So he opens the garage and, instead of the dusty and dirty car I was expecting, there is a gleaming VW Bug convertible, lovingly called “La Coccinelle”.

It is the perfect car for cruising, so in grand style we headed along the north shore of Lac Léman, explored the countryside almost to the foot of the Jura Mountains (but the Jura Mountains are in France, and Auréle cannot drive into France with his learning permit), and ended paying a visit to Auréle’s dad, Michel.

Michel lives in a gorgeous old house that overlooks Lac Léman; it forms part of the farm complex of great-great-granddad, and still has a good area of vineyards and pasture. This is the house where Auréle grew up, so he had all sorts of stories about the youthful adventures of himself and his brothers. Michel is pretty high in the World Organization of Workers, and spends a lot of his time traveling to countries where his expertise is needed by unions and national workers’ organizations.

By the time we came back home we were in the best of spirits, looking forward to further travels in La Coccinelle. I reflect that Auréle’s misfortune in not passing his test has resulted on my benefit, because now he has to take me along anytime he wants some practice (alas, his learning permit requires that an experienced driver with a valid driver’s license be by his side, and I am the only one that doesn’t have a life and is available). Dommage!

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