I love to include people in my photography; they add scale, emotion and story.  I knew I wouldn’t meet anyone on my little walk around the French village of Bouteville situated in the beautiful Charente area of Nouvelle- Aquitaine; there are no shops and people jump in their cars and head for the nearest town, Chateauneuf, and it was 7am after all. But the architecture of the place is very appealing so with camera in hand off I went.

It’s a short walk through the Cognac grapevines to the village and with sunny 7am light it was particularly gorgeous.  First stop, the local cemetery… the old 13th Century Chateau siting pretty on the hill….


.. then a closer look at Bouteville Chateau.  The village bought it a while back to try and save it from descending further into disrepair but they can’t afford to do much with it….


I walked down into the hamlet, there are some beautiful old buildings.. particularly the 11thC church..




I’d had no breakfast but remembered that ..’it is every Frenchman’s right to have fresh bread’… and checked out the 24/7 Pain vending machine..


I hadn’t brought my wallet but found a 1 Euro coin in my pocket, yay!  I selected ‘plain baguette’ and inserted my coin. Nothing. Rien. Zero. I pressed ‘cancel’ and started again. Still no bread.  What a pain. (That’s a pun if you know French) And then my saviour appeared; an ancient pipe-smoking Monsieur ambling down the village road. In very bad French I said hello and asked if he could help.  It was quite obvious he had never used this machine. He walked around it scratching his head and puffing on his pipe. He took my coin and inserted it into the machine.  He pressed the button and he too got the same result, nothing.  Then suddenly his face lit up, “Il n’y a pas de lumière verte!”.. ‘There’s no green light’.  Plain bread was off the menu.  However the ‘Pain Champagne’ option did have a green light but this cost €1.20. I rejected my coin, held it up to him and made my saddest face.  He dug deep into his pocket, produced a 20 centime coin, stuck it in the machine, pressed the Pain Champagne button and….viola!  I thanked him enormously and he shrugged and said, “Technologie”. He trundled off down the road no doubt to tell his story of the Englishman without 20 centimes; his family assuming Grandpere was telling another one of his tall tales.  The bread was delicious and it was only later I realised I should have at least offered him a piece.  Sad face      😦


2 thoughts on “Pain…

  1. You have radically changed my opinion of France. I just wish I had taken the “less traveled road” as you did while there. A wonderful uplifting post with a cemetery to die for ( 😂 ) , the haunting beauty of a disappearing hamlet, and a vending machine just for bread. Don’t you know that gentleman has a vast storehouse of memories!
    Really fine post, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • France is stunningly gorgeous Marty and I can see why Brits want to live there so it is a shame you didn’t get to see the rural back waters. I totally agree, that old man must have seen some amazing changes to the village in his lifetime.


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