Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just how small a world is it?

Late 2007 we rented a big village house in the south of France for Christmas week. I used an agency, went through their catalog and found what looked like an ideal house in a very small village called Ansouis. I checked the dates we wanted on the agency web site and it was available. After getting approval from the multiple family members involved, I proceeded to book it.

The agency called me the next day and said there was a problem. The owner, who lived in Chicago, wanted to come stay at her house during the week I had requested. She had not been to her house in France for almost a year, and could we change our schedule? Er, well no. We had a road trip planned for the week before, and New Years in Paris all set up. Plus we had already booked our airline tickets and hotels. We wanted this house, or I would have to start the search all over again. Turns out the owner had already booked her airline tickets as well.  After some back and forth we agreed to pay the ticket change fee for the owner and she would arrive when we left. Everybody happy.

When we arrived we found the house to be fantastic. Beautiful, big, comfortable, ancient stone walls, the place full of history and original works of art, and a huge very well equipped kitchen to boot. The place was warm, comfortable, had a big fireplace, nice bathtubs, and more room than we expected allowing each to have privacy when they wanted it. I mean there was really nothing that you could complain about. Right around the corner was the village boulangerie that made to die for croissants early every morning, and to our delight, small classic tarte tropeziennes that were dangerously delicious.

We all agreed we had lucked out. We had Christmas there and it was good.

The last day we packed up our stuff, cleaned up the house, and before hitting the road, stepped out of the front door, walked across the small town square the house faced, and sat down for some hot café crèmes at the bar that had become one of our regular hangouts. The bartender/owner made really good café crèmes.

While we sipped a woman comes in. She greets the bar owner speaking French like an old friend, then comes over to us, speaking English she asks how our stay was. Turns out she is the owner. We tell her how much we love her house, that we are pleased, and upon hearing this she is pleased. During this time she keeps giving me the once over. I look at the front of my shirt – Did I spill?

We wrap up our pleasantries and she starts to leave, turns around and comes back to me, asks, “Do I know you?”

I do my best imitation of a village idiot “Eh, uh, what… no…?”

“Where do you live?”

“Los Angeles.”

“Hmm, I live in Chicago. Come to Chicago much?”

“No, not really.”

“I’m sure I know you.”

I look at her carefully. Nope, I have no idea who she is.

She asks me “What do you do for a living?”


“Me too. Ever work for Earthlink?”

WTF! “Uh, yes. I was their VP Marketing.”

“Do you know Wendy F., she was the creative director there?”

Jaw drops. “Yes. I hired her at Earthlink. But Wendy and I are old friends, we go back a ways.”

“Wendy is a good friend of mine too. You ever go to her place on Cloverdale, back in the early 80s?”

Other jaw drops. “Yeah…”

“I met you at Wendy’s place at one of her small parties. Yeah, I remember you. We hung out a couple times.”

Stunned. That was almost 30 years ago. I met her several times at Wendy’s house 30 years ago, and she recognizes me. Seriously, she recognized me?!? And we just stayed at her house. In France. In a tiny village in the country. Which she hasn't visited for a year. She arrives a half hour before we leave. Too many coincidences. My head is spinning.

Then she asks, “Did you see Wendy’s painting on the wall in the master bedroom?”

Uh, that would be the room I stayed in.

A la votre,
Le Capitaine

The house in Ansouis. This picture doesn't do it justice:

A couple pictures of the village of Ansouis:


  1. You've already filled this much of a blog you just started ... wow! From a guy who professes to NOT like to write I would say prolific fits here. A comment (peanut gallery only) most blogs are not supposed to be long. Unlike you or I who like to read, the average reader has short-attention-span syndrome. Other than that, bravo senore! Have fun. ~ Michelle

  2. Just wonderful!! A story brewing? Perhaps per chance??

    A place to visit already I would say~

  3. The way you describe things really makes me want to go there, to just jump into your picture -just like Mary Poppins!!!

  4. Thanks all. And in case anybody was wondering, yes this is a true story.