The streets were narrow enough to squeeze a small car at best, and as my mother and I traipsed along the interior, skimming our fingertips along the side walls while we admired the intimate ambiance of a town less dependent on vehicles than foot traffic, cobble stone streets cemented together with bricks before concrete, woven with stems from vines flossing crevices of edifices, we turned a corner where we were met with a smile caught in conversation hovering over a table just long enough for me to faux interest in the menu of who-cares-what food and wine they served.
I knew I had made a friend in the moment we walked past his restaurant yesterday and caught eyes while Jean-Baptiste was speaking with a table, collecting their menus and directing us towards the nearest clearing lit by stained glass chandeliers aflame with candles, adored with fresh florals, cushioned with seating to accommodate a family of four, and calling to us with music that must have been catered towards the crisp French air.
We ordered but one bottle of Bordeaux between the two of us, but Jean-Baptiste complimented it with several plates of charcuterie and complimentary glasses (upon glasses upon glasses) of a local digestif and shifted a stray chair towards our table when invited once the remaining customers had cleared come closing.
He had a tattoo the length of his neck, running from behind his right ear to just below the collar of his white linen shirt tucked into the apron strapped around his waist where he stored the corks unclaimed from bottles opened prior. He taught us translations for “cheers,” gesticulations appropriated for liquor varietals, and allowed us to manage the music commanding the ambiance we so thoroughly integrated into.
Recruiting an English couple from the street, one of which was celebrating a birthday, and an Atlantan chain smoking much to mother’s delight, Jean-Baptiste and I left the others to converse while we snuck to the wine cellar to sift through the reserves.
When we emerged not one head turned and we excitedly reclaimed our seats, shaking a bottle of champagne and unleashing a waterfall of another hour of entertainment.
I’ve been in France for one day, and have a feeling I won’t want to leave.