Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

What happened to the mayor?

Two years ago we had a fabulous lunch at ‘L’Hélianthe’, a troglodyte restaurant in the village of Turquant, between Tours and Saumur. The place is sheer magic and the food utterly delicious. I’ve written about this outstanding experience in a previous post, in which featured an unusual ‘statue’ of the mayor. The ‘Mairie’ being right across the road from the restaurant, we kind of had our aperitif in the company of this handsome fellow, made of terra cotta flower pots.

I thought it would be nice to take my friends to ‘L’Hélianthe’. As their son is a chef, they know all about good food and really appreciate it. And I must admit that the idea pleased me as well.

I only vaguely remembered the way to the restaurant and thought that the best way to find my bearings, was to look out for the ‘Mairie’ and the little flower pot statue. Suddenly I recognized the spot where we had parked the car two years ago. This meant that we had passed the restaurant without noticing it. We therefore walked back in the direction we had come from. There was no sign of the ‘Mairie’ or the restaurant, until we turned the corner, and there it was: the sunny terrace of L’Hélianthe’! What relieve!

However, it looked deserted. In spite of the nice weather there were neither chairs, nor tables and the wooden floor planking was covered in dust. We walked up to the door and saw that the lights inside the restaurant were on. When we walked in, we were warmly greeted by the same man who had served us two years ago.

When the landlord wanted to show us to a table for three, I stopped him and asked whether we could have our aperitif on the terrace. “I wouldn’t recommend it …”, he said “ … because of the dust and the noise. You may have noticed that they’re doing some serious building work on the ‘Mairie’.” It was only then that I saw that all the windows and doors and been removed and that a new wing was being added to the main building. I also noticed that the little flower pot man with the tricolour sash was gone.

As the builders were having their lunch break, the street was calm and there was no dust in the air. I therefore insisted. “It’s so nice and sunny outside that it would be shame not have our apéro alfresco.” The man looked at me in a friendly way. “I suppose it can be arranged, considering that the sun doesn’t shine a lot in Belgium …” he said, tongue in cheek. Ouch, my Belgian accent had clearly betrayed me! But I didn’t mind … after all it got us what we wanted: an aperitif on the terrace.
The new chef-like figurine
on the terrace of 'L'Hélianthe' - May 2010

While a waiter brought out a table and three chairs I noticed a flower pot man sitting on the edge of the terrace. “Ha, I see you’ve rescued the mayor.” I said. The landlord looked at me, tears welling up in his eyes. “I’d rather not talk about that. It’s too sad.” he replied. While he went back in to get the menu cards, I took a closer look; it wasn’t the little fellow with the sash, but a flower pot figurine dressed as a chef. When the landlord came back out, and considering his earlier reaction, I didn’t have the heart to ask the question that was burning on my lips: “What happened to the mayor?



Carolyn said...

I'd want to know too. How could it be sad? Was he talking about the real maire, and not the clay-pot one?

ladybird said...

Carolyn, It never came to me that he could have been talking about the real mayor. But now that you mention it, and seeing his emotional reaction, it might very well have been the case. I guess we'll never know.