Travelling companions aren’t always pleasant. If you are forced to sit beside someone who is obnoxious or smelly or you aren’t in the mood to talk and they are, the trip can be a nightmare. When you buy a bus, plane or train ticket you can never be sure who your travel companion might be. And so, when I thought of offering the passenger seat of my car to a complete stranger on my recent journey to Perth I was a little apprehensive to say the least. But fuel costs being what they are in this ‘neck of the woods’ I was willing to take a chance on the ‘Margaret River Ride Share’ Facebook Group and pray that the person who turned up would have only one head and not smell of Swan lager at 8 am.
The first ‘bite’ turned out to be a Frenchman so I thought the conversation wouldn’t be a problem as I don’t speak french and according to his interpreter, he didn’t speak much English. Voila, problem solved…but wait perhaps he was from Marseille and swarthy, stinking of garlic or worse an arrogant Parisian ‘la tête dans le cul’?
Fortunately and fantastically my expedition’s companion turned out to be neither and was instead a real joie de vie and the making of a wonderful nouvel ami (new friend). As I said, I don’t speak much french, but by the time we reached Perth I did a little bit more and so did my new friend Saint-Pasteur (albeit a few of which were undoubtedly impiété). Another communication barrier to be overcome was my lack of appreciation for wine, which of course is de rigueur if you are a Frenchman. This was no small impasse because Saint-Pasteur Laurent is the Director of Chateau-Cissac in Bordeaux and was here in an advisory capacity to one of Margaret River’s prestigious wineries as an international expert in the art ancien of la fabrication du vin.
Now I can here all you plonk lovers drooling and wishing you could have been me for a few hours of one on one with one of the world’s experts on Cabernet Sauvignon? We had a temps fantastique discussing wine and the Australian and French vernaculaire. By the time we got to Fremantle where he was staying the night before returning to his home and la famille we had become vrais amis and wonderfully he had invited me to visit him and see the Chateau-Cissac, and learn to drink the excellent vin de la région, apparently his spécialité being Cabernet Sauvignon. Saint-Pasteur Laurent is a true gentleman and has such a passion for his art…it was a vrai plaisir to hear him wax lyrical about his love of fine wine and his travels to vineyards around the world and the brotherhood of the vine that has no borders. He spoke highly of the local wines (his visited 100 during his visit here), but there was no doubt that his favourite was french wine…vive le patriote.
Je ne peux pas attendre!