|What have Birmingham UK and the village of Montagne, population less than 20 souls in common? Well of course they are both moreorless in the centre of their respective countries, the latter a mite more rural than the former.
We had ventured into deepest Vienne departement, named after its river, to spend the night with an expatriate couple, English and Swedish, on our way to celebrate France winning Euro 2016 a day or so later. Got that wrong then as it turned out.
However the immediate problem was dinner as Madame was having a night off but recommended an excellent little restaurant thirty minutes away. 'You can't miss it' she claimed; 'it has a charming terrasse overhanging the
Vienne river but could be a bit quiet midweek'. Not surprising given the sparseness of any human habitation as we drove down narrow rutted tracks for over half an hour, hoping we could retrace our route in the dark after dinner. 'Turn right, then right then right again'.
About to give up and cut our losses and call it a day, lo and behold round the next corner a large wooden balcony terrasse over the river as promised, but contrary to expectations, the car park looked pretty full, not just cars but even a few mini busses.
We found a spare slot, parked up, got out to the sound of excited conversations from the dining balcony which appeared to be completely full of young diners interspersed with one or two adults. Not looking too good for a table, we pressed on to try and find a waiter to track down the table booked by our hostess. This was unbelievable: where did all these diners come from in this almost uninhabited corner of central France on a Thursday evening?
Eventually we tracked down a harassed member of staff to enquire about our table. Blank looks. I remonstrated. And then a light shone.
'Monsieur, this is not a restaurant but a children's' summer camp. What you are looking for is in peu plus loin'.
Well it looked like a restaurant and did have a dining balcony over the river. Typical. You wait for 30 minutes to find the only eating establishment for miles and two come along together.
When we reached our goal, we had the choice of every table in the establishment, a wonderful view and a very peaceful meal a deux
You don't have these problems in Birmingham.