Every Tuesday I have French classes at the Université de Temps Libre (UTL). I happen to be a perfectionist, so I want to be able to speak the language very well. Normally I drive to a hall in Collinée (department Côte d’Armor). Today however, we have classes at another location; in a tiny space of the mairie in the nearby village of Saint Gouéno. Yes, another village named after a saint: Güéno. Centuries ago this great man founded the village of Saint Goueznou – in old Breton ‘Woednou’- in the department of Finistère.
Well here we are with all the students in Saint Gouéno. It’s awful – so cold inside! Anyway, that is typically French I have discovered; not heating a space. I will never get used to it. I also will not get used to … François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande. He hangs right in front of me. With a straight face and dressed in a neat black suit, this current president of France born near Rouen looks at me intently. What does he want? Why doesn’t he laugh a bit? It would make him friendlier. Actually, I think he is a reasonable politician. To tell the truth, I am more or less in the leftist camp. I love his statements like: ‘Nelson Mandela était déjà entré l’histoire de son vivant. Mort, il prend place dans la conscience universelle’. Beautiful isn’t it? But no, that look of François this morning at school. I don’t like it. Still, I forget about ‘the face’. Classes are very interesting.
Then I go back outside. I smell the scents of winter time. Suddenly I see a sign with Le Chemin de Croix St. Gouéno. What is that? Back home I open my laptop and read that it is a religious walk of six kilometres. From the church in St. Gouéno – built in 1861 – you walk on a small path to the site of the chapel of the Notre Dame des Sept douleurs, or Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. The chapel is located on a hill where you have a nice view of the surroundings. In order to get back to the church in St. Gouéno, you have to descend via the so-called Way of the Cross.
Anyway, next time I am in St. Gouéno for my classes, afterwards I will go for the walk. Relaxing after two hours of thinking. No, I’m not going alone. I will take François with me. Maybe he will manage to smile a bit, if only for a moment.