The autoroutes in France may knit Normandy to Provence, but you can drive across the entire nation without, it seems, noticing a single thing. “Life doesn’t happen along the Interstate,” William Least Heat-Moon wrote,” it’s against the law.”
But recently I tapped the brakes near the village of Gordes in Provence and drove the winding uphill road to the stone village founded in 1031 and perched like an eyrie above the autoroute.
Tourists blocked the road just outside Gordes, taking selfies on their iPhones with the village as a backdrop. Then in a village café, I discovered that I could order a “Real Manhattan Hot Dog.”
Few things can be as elemental as a place like Gordes, a village built of the stone it stood on, huddled for defense in a hostile place, yet with a town square where a seamstress and a farmer could share a pastis.
Today, by contrast, we live in a whirl of possibility, enabled by the autoroute and the internet, where everywhere is available but nothing is really significant.
If the autoroute and Instagram belong to everyone, I thought, Gordes belongs to where it is.
With or without Le Hot Dog.