Along the highways and byways of France, there are road signs that always catch our attention. They read: Vue Panoramique. Printed on arrows, they point this way or that. Who could resist?
"Argenton" by Linda Hampton Smith. Watercolor on Paper
In the petite village of Argenton, we get out of the car, explore the interior of a church and exit by way of a huge oak door adorned with fanciful hinges. We stand in a courtyard and admire the sweeping view. Ah, deep and lovely breaths of French air and the satisfaction of, well, magnificence. We've never been disappointed with la promesse of panorama. Except for one occasion. We dutifully followed yet another sign, walking and panting our way up the hills. We came across a field of sheep who stopped munching on sweet French grass and blankly stared at us. Then we stumbled upon an abandoned hamlet. This really excited our imagination. We walked past miles, it seemed, of woodland. Utterly exhausted, we finally turned around in search of (please, God!) flat ground. We never found the elusive "view" and wondered if it was someone's idea of a joke. Yet that never-ending hike gave us an intimacy with le paysage that we would have otherwise missed out on.