It’s New Years Eve. We’re en France at your neighbour’s place for dinner. The wine flows freely. How can it not? We’re in Cannes.
I’m sitting there thinking, when a pleasant elderly gentleman offers to fill my wine glass, but I decline saying you’ll fill my drink for me. He then offers to keep me company while you’re off catching up with friends you haven’t met in months. The way he put it, ‘I cannot see a beautiful woman sitting alone’. Far be it from me to decline.
After asking my permission to sit and participating in quite intelligent conversation, the elderly philosopher asks me what I’d been up to the previous week. And I tell him that we spent Christmas with your family, and before that we saw Paris and Chambord, et L’Eglise Russe de Prieure Sylvanès, et Le Pays de La Loire, et les églises magnifiques, et tant des beaux endroits et spectacles en France, et aussi le Puy Pariou en Auvergne.
Et il me dit, ‘Pardon?’
Je dis encore, ‘Un des Puys D’Auvergne, Le Puy Pariou’.
Et il ne me comprend pas.
So I try to explain in English, the extinct volcanos in the Auvergne region. But he has no idea what I’m talking about.
And so we find you, and parce que je ne parle pas beaucoup de Francais, you explain to him that the Puy Pariou ou Pariou ou Le Pariou est un volcan dans la region des volcans d’Auvergne au cote de Clermont Ferrand et Orcines. Les Puys D’Auvergne sont dans le Massif Central et composé d’environ 80 sommets formé par de volcanisme. Très magnifique et très beaux. Le Puy de Dôme est le meilleur.
Et que nous sommes allés, il ya une semaine. And he’s never heard of it. A native of the Riviera who’s never heard of Les Puys en France. And I wonder…
Memories of hiking up Puy Pariou
Et je me souviens, se réveiller tôt pour y arriver. Et y arriver alors qu’il n’y a que quelques personnes. Et l’autre famille avec l’enfant de 10 ans commençant devant nous.
And we start the 250 meter walk up at an incline surrounded by beautiful trees and foliage. And the air is so crisp and clear. It’s a joy to breathe in. Et après moins de 20 minutes, je suis fatigué juste à mi-chemin. Et je me repose sur ton épaule. And you say you’re sorry for what you said the other day. And I tell you it’s okay, because really, it wasn’t you that hurt me. It was me that expected too much from you. It was me that expected forever love when all you could give me was a simple love.
And it hurts, but we keep on hiking, up through those beautiful mountains, those trees so green I’d never seen in my life, those birds flying overheard and the dead autumn leaves and the dry grass crunching noisily under our feet.
And in an hour we reach the top. You tell me that we’re now at an elevation of 1209 metres. We can see the neighbouring cities sleeping quietly in the early morning. The view is magnificent! So quiet and so beautiful, that I forget about taking pictures till we’re about to leave.
But I’m grateful I’ve reached the top of the Puy Pariou. And I’m thankful that I get to marvel at its beauty, because everyone else will be climbing up the famous Puy de Dôme nearby. So I’m happy and I’m so thankful that I’m here.
Thank you for this, this serene beauty, this natural landscape. Yes, I see the buffalos that have gotten to the pit at the centre of this ancient volcano, so far away they look like ants. It’s 90 metres down to the centre of the crater. And we can’t really figure out which is the ‘old Pariou’ crater that is hidden under the ‘new Pariou’ crater. So we just walk around and take in the views.
After taking in the beauty for some time, we find that there are steps to walk down from the Puy, and I’m elated. Though I would have preferred to walk up the steps and amble leisurely down the verdant mountainside under the shade of the juniper trees. But we see so much more beauty on the way down the other side. I wish it could just go on forever.
And I will remember this place always, till time and time are aeons. Just as I will remember you. Thank you for Puy Pariou, thank you for France, and thank you for your love.