July 11, 2001
Aprille had an accident. She hit a car
parked on the road in the village. I walked down the hill and
left a note on the car with my telephone number. The eighty-year-old
couple who own the car called the next morning and said to come
down and talk about it. Monsieur and Madame Beaujouan own the
house on the corner of the town square and sell bottles of propane
gas to supplement their income. I had met them before when I
bought gas and one another occasion when Monsieur Beaujouan invited
us to have a drink in his cave under the chateau. He had introduced
himself as Beaujouan Le Lapin. Lapin is the word for rabbit and
this good-natured man was joking about the speed that he does
not move at. But having one drink with a Frenchman is more like
a handshake than a bonding event. You have to drink daily to
truly bond. The point is that I don't know Monsieur and Madame
Beaujouan very well so I bring all of my insurance and registration
papers just in case I have to buy a new car.
I am greeted at the door by two smiling
faces who invite me in and offer me a seat. Of course we start
the meeting with a petit verre. It is eleven o'clock in
the morning so we are close enough to the lunch hour to start
with an aperitif. Otherwise it would have been a breakfast digestif.
We spend about a half hour sipping Madame Beaujouan's feuille
de pecher, which she is rightly proud of. Here is the formula
for Madame's peach liqueur:
1 liter of eau-de-vie (made from the fruit
on the trees in your garden).
4 liters of wine (rose is preferred).
Leaves from your peach tree.
Mix it all together in a ceramic container and allow it to rest
for six weeks. Strain, bottle and serve cold.
Madam Beaujouan assures me that it is
all natural and all of the products come from their large garden
in the back of their house.
As we approach the lunch hour, we quickly get down to business
and agree to meet again tomorrow to discuss the accident further.
The following morning I meet with Monsieur
Beaujouan and we drive over to the garage of Jean-Marie Cabart
who is also a resident of Lavardin and a relative of our new
mayor. There is more damage than first appeared so Jean Marie
calls my insurance agency and arranges a meeting so we can do
the paperwork. Our friend Monique Petit-Brazier handles the paperwork
at the agency of Gilles Proust where I have my insurance. Monique's
brother is a winemaker in the village of Thoré la Rochette
where she also lives. Monique tells me that it was her parents
who invented the pousse d'épine aperitif that is
similar to Madame Beaujouan's feuille de pecher.
After finishing the claim forms, we head
back to the Beaujouan homestead where I am given a tour of the
garden and an offer of a glass of wine from the Beaujouan cave
under the chateau. I know that one cannot conclude a car accident
claim without a drink even if it is ten o'clock in the morning.
We head up National 10 which is the name that he calls the cement
path running through the middle of his garden and arrive at his
cave under the chateau. The cave is actually a part of the old
underground system of tunnels that run miles under the chateau.
On the way to the cave we meet Charles Brousset who is on his
way to open the chateau boutique where you can always find a
glass of wine if you get caught with a thirst between home and
the next cave. Monsieur Beaujouan invites Charles to join us
in the large well-stocked cave. There is a huge boulder in the
ceiling just at the entrance of the cave that looks like it is
ready to fall. Charles expresses his concern but Le Lapin
just laughs and says that it has been there for a thousand years.
Just in case, Charles and I stand back from the line of fire.
Monsieur Beaujouan asks if we want white
Bordeaux, Burgundy or Chinon?
Old or new?
Charles answers "good"?
After two large glasses, Monsieur Beaujouan
says that you can't put a cork back in a bottle of red. It will
spoil. We agree and finish the bottle. Charles invites us over
for another petit verre at the chateau boutique. After
another glass of red, we head home for . What does one do at
10:30 in the morning after a couple bottles of wine? Wait for
the next accident.