On our first trip to the south of France, we stumbled on the perched medieval village of Seillans, one of the most beautiful villages in France. It looked like a good place for lunch. Sure enough, in the idyllic center square, paved with old stones and shaded by iconic plane trees, a lovely round fountain filled with pots of fresh roses and bottles of rosé, gurgled. The 25 or so tables surrounding the fountain were filled with people enjoying themselves. Only one table, at the side, by the old wash house, l’ancien lavoir, was still open. A young man in a crisp white apron spotted us and invited us to sit. His name was Eric and his father had once owned the old boulangerie here. In his honor, and with a nod to Marcel Pagnol, the famous author, Eric named his restaurant, La Gloire de Mon Pére.
I have forgotten what we had for lunch that day, but not the feeling of belonging to, and sharing, the good life. After a fine meal, with a bottle of rosé from a local winery, we tried to remember exactly how we had got here in the first place, or where we had parked our Renault Twingo. Several lanes fanned out from the Place du Thouron, none looked exactly right.
Follow that cat
Just then, a little cat with green eyes came over to Kim. I thought it wanted food, but it just sat there until Kim reached down to pet it while I consulted my map.
When I looked up, I saw Kim and the cat leaving without me, heading down an old lane, the cat leading the way. It made several turns, looking back each time to make sure we were still there.
This went on for about five minutes until we arrived at the bottom, right where I’d parked the Renault.
As I took a few more pictures, it held out one paw to Kim and then leaned in to nuzzle her face.
As we drove off, I looked in my review mirror, half expecting to see it waving its other paw goodbye.
The next day, our flight back to Boston was cancelled and we had three days until the next flight home. We decided to drive back to Seillans. The little real estate agency was open, so we pulled in to look at a few properties and kill some time. The owner, also by the name of Eric, was asleep at his desk and woke up when we opened the door, rattling an old bell.
Two days later, we flew back to our home in Maine with a file full of French documents that said we now owned a 700-year-old house in the middle of Seillans.
We never saw the green-eyed cat again, but believe it or not, that day after lunch, it had taken us directly down the little street where we now live.
Mark and Kim Jespersen have recently completed a book on their experience over the past 8 years, searching for the author of eight love letters from 1926 that Kim bought at a flea market from a lady with one tooth.