Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Meet the Mayor

There are times when I've just want a warm place to sit and rest for 10 minutes. A side-benefit of a long walk in winter, maybe, but I seek places indoors whenever possible.

A city has plenty of cafés and bars, of course, but standing in a village square, options are limited... the mayor's office, of all places, is a strong candidate for a place with a seat and heat - 'Mairie' in French. Sometimes the hours it's opened are very restricted - to Wednesday afternoon, often, when school's out. The school and mayor's office often share the same building.

If people are there, though, my experience has been that they're always happy to receive a visitor to their corner of the world - usually offering a cup of coffee and cookies or homemade cake, and warm conversation.

The mayor of St Fiacre, a village named for the Saint, patron of gardeners, who lived and died there, could not be more proud of his dominion. He opened the church for me and gave me a guided tour; he took me to the only place in the village for a cup of coffee, and was a bit embarrassed that it's so skanky; he introduced me around - a pilgrim, from America; he took me to the grand residence of the local Count, who was entertaining guests for the holidays, so we didn't ring the bell (I'd have loved to have met a Count!); he told me all of the details of Fiacre's life, death, and beatification with great enthusiasm. if anyone is in north-central France the first weekend of September, this mayor puts on quite a festival for the Saint.

I've met many happy mayors and others who work in the village hall. The reception has always been positive, the experience delightful. Meet the mayor - it's a terrific way to discover Europe.

3 comments:

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

This brought back memories of Montreal-du-Gers on the Le Puy route. My two friends from Montreal in Quebec had discovered that they were quite happy to let pilgrims use the internet in the Mairie, and they had been made very welcome by the Mayor. So I headed up there as well, but the Mayor was just leaving. However, the staff were perfectly happy for me to use the internet, and I got to sit at someone's desk while he vacated it for a while!

Pilgrim Nell said...

Saint Fiacre was an Irishman so I'm glad that hospitality given in his chosen place was warm and welcoming!

Pilgrim Nell said...

Saint Fiacre was an Irishman so I'm glad that hospitality given in his chosen place was warm and welcoming!