Thurs 2nd May.
When I arrived in Tours, based on my predictions of Paris being sullied, my expectations of French cities had stooped to an unpredictable low. I wanted to get in and out swiftly without much fuss.
On the contrary Tours was a beautiful, mellow and a culturally rich city. When I got to where I was staying my host Sebastian welcomed me, making me feel comfortable right away. He was an experienced cyclist and said he thought about the rain that day and didn’t envy me.
He offered me the washing machine, shower, their balcony to dry my tent and more importantly, coffee. Later his girlfriend Aurélie arrived and we all ate together sharing stories. One of the highlights from the meal was a dark brown paste made from olives and anchovies (tapenade I think), made by Aurélie’s father in the south of France, the infamous south.
Again another offer for an extra night arose, to relax after the last three days. I accepted.
The next day we all went out for lunch to a good pasta place, then took the food to a bar, where we sat outside in the sun and had a blonde beer. We talked politics and I began to get a good impression of what French people thought about their new socialist government. It was negative, as Françios Hollande hadn’t lived up to his promises and the country had dipped further into recession since he became president.
Over this lunch break I also learned how unbelievably good unemployment benefits are for French people. In short you continue to receive around 75% percent of your wage from your previous job for two years! Probably relating to their economic wobble. Again I considered living here…
We ate in the old part of the city, which was beautiful and full of old Tudor-like houses leaning out over the streets. After lunch, we broke off and I went with Sebastian to a comic shop, where the latest issue of his favourite comic was out. A strange continuing story of a world with many parallel universes, where problems with their links to one another arose, comparable with domestic-style maintenance, also featuring detectives chasing the hero through universes. Sadly it isn’t translated into English as I know it, but that also preserves it’s speciality.
Comics in France are closer to graphic novels and altogether taken more seriously and read by a mature audience. I noticed it first in Paris, when I thought it was strange that a man was reading comics and had a collection of them on his shelves. Then Sebastian and other hosts on my trip had them too and I realised they were a more respected art form and treated as novels here.
After, Seb took me on a tour around the city on our bikes (he had five to choose from), showing me various nooks, crannies and secrets about the place I all found fascinating.
Later that night we went out to a bar with jazz musicians and singers playing and plenty of good Belgian beer, all on a Thursday. It was the sort of bar you wish for as a local, an intimate red interior, dark but not dingy, good people, character etc.
On the walk home they took me to a small residential square and Aurélie informed me that this was the birthplace of the original Moleskine journals.
For confirmation I checked the booklet supploed in each journal and she was correct. My admiration for the city had grown and flourished tremendously in the short time I’d been there.