Election Day at last and our annual trip to the village bar. Not being a French citizen, I do not have the right to vote. My husband however, had the onerous task of not only selecting the future President, but also deciding which bistro we should frequent.
We went to the town hall, late morning, so he could complete the first part of his duties, before winding our way down to the local watering holes. The village boasts of two bars, one next door to the other, and there is always a brief moment of indecision whilst we choose. We hesitated outside, but a quick scan of the interiors showed that the habitual, pastis swilling crowd were in the bar on the left. We opted for the other, l’Etape.
The inside had changed little since we were last there. The room is as big as our lounge, with the smell of stale smoke hanging on the walls like the stained photo of Gainsbourg. Three different bottles of pastis were within easy reach of the owner; everything else had to be stretched for. Within minutes, we were joined by an array of cousins, brother-in-laws and friends from the village. All good citizens like us – thirsty from the effort of voting.
The TV in the corner blasted out an excited commentary on the progress of a motorbike race and the conversation at the bar, quickly veered to cars. Elections and future presidents weren’t discussed; our village is as far removed from politics, as it is from Paris.
Our motley crew was soon joined by the “regulars” – those who need a midday shot of pastis or “jaune” as it is known here. Everyone insisted on buying a round and by 2 pm it was a question of last man standing.
We came home feeling greatly satisfied that we (he) had gone to vote. In fact, everybody in the bar was of the same opinion for once: if duty called us back to the polls, for a second time, on 6th May, we would be ready.