If there ever is one town that truly embodies a sleepy town, I think it will be Bouillon, Belgium at the end of summer. We got here late afternoon on Sunday and quickly discovered that hardly anything is open. And in fact, neither was anything on Monday. Or Tuesday.
The town is literally asleep. I would be too if it drizzled the entire time. The air had a chill, but also had the pungent smell of fireplace smoke escaping through some chimneys. The houses here are old yet they stand proud and strong like formidable old ladies with linked arms. Our residence for the last two nights was built back in the 1600s and inside are bric-a-brac that of multiple generations (including Tintin books!). The town is rich in history in culture. A castle dating back to 1000 is proudly overlooking the town and Semois River.
What an idyllic place.
Monsieur Adam is our host and he gingerly prepared our petit dejeuner of fresh bread rolls, soft boiled eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, an accoutrement of homemade jam and coffee and tea every morning. We stopped at the boucherie yesterday to buy jambon and pate and had that for our breakfast as well. Monsieur Adam told us stories about the history of the place, the Spanish, French, German occupations (not necessarily in that order) and about life in Bouillon in general. I wouldn't know from looking at him, but the man can laugh.
Today is our last day in Bouillon. I was taking some bags out to the car and walked through the alleyway next to the house. There were posters on the wall (in French) that I never really paid attention to. I paused and with my pocket dictionary, I worked through translating every single word on a handwritten sign:
"The country of artists, artisans, writers, poets, and those who dream. The country of 1,000 years of history, culture, of mysteries and legends."
Just as I was getting done, the church bells started chiming.
Oui, c'est la Bouillon.
(Written from the stoop of chez Monsieur Adam
October 3, 2012)