I remember taking it in 2007. We were sitting on a terrace of a ‘Winstub’ (wine bar which also serve beer and soft drinks = regular village bar) in the village of Boxweiler in the Alsace. The bar was on little square, facing the local château. We were on our way back to our hotel in Saverne after another exhausting day of sightseeing in the area, when we decided to stop here for a refreshing beer.
The cat in the photo seemed to have come out of nowhere. It first settled down for a while on the windowsill of the former souvenir shop. It was basking in the evening sun, but quickly got up when I got out my camera and tried to approach it to capture its photo. It took some coaxing to prevent it from scurrying away and I just managed to get this shot.
When it was gone, I took a closer look at the shop window. There were still some ‘souvenirs’ sitting on the inside windowsill and it looked as if the place had closed down just some weeks before. I felt slightly sorry seeing this lovely old shop that had probably done great business in the past, being closed down and transformed into a regular house. I wondered whether the former shopkeepers were still living there and why they had closed down their pretty shop.
But then I looked around and noticed how calm and almost deserted the village was. Apparently the village was no longer a tourist attraction – in spite of the château, which was now the town hall – and selling souvenirs was no longer a profitable business.
You see many of the former ‘bazar’ and ‘souvenir’ shops all over France. Some of them are in pristine condition, like this one, with the old sign still hanging over the door. But most are just left to fall into ruin. What a shame …