Enchanted in Paris

One Saturday in 1951, when I was 21, I was hitch-hiking from Valence in the South of France to Paris. A driver of a refrigerated truck offered me a deal. He had delivered his load of fish, and had to load nearby 40 bags of cement, to take back to Lorient, right across the other side of France in Brittany! He said, if I would help him load the cement, he would take me with him to Lorient, pay for me to stay in a room over a café-bakery where they would feed me at his expense, and on Monday morning he would take me with him leaving early to deliver his load of fish in Paris at the market. I accepted, we loaded the cement, and I had a free excursion across the middle of France to the west coast. The room was comfortable and the food was good.

On Sunday morning, about 11:30 I went out to the main avenue of the town. To my astonishment the folks, mostly in couples, all in their Sunday best clothes were parading up and down the wide sidewalks after church. The men were raising their hats as they passed each other, and the ladies– ah! the ladies — in their black ankle-length gowns shot with green and purple reflections and their tall white lace quoiffs standing 12 or more inches high on their heads. An enchantment!


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