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Breathalizer test: sunday morning 10:15 a.m.

how a drunken hunter may still score a hare...

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[http://images.travbuddy.com/1829587_13401515266944.jpg]St. Yrieix-les-bois, the tiny deserted village where I had to do a breathalizer test around 10:15 a.m. on a november sunday morning...

In autumn, the scenery in the Creuse gets really pretty because of the mix of pine trees that remain green and the foliage of the oaks, walnut trees and many others.

That sunday morning I was staying at my friend's house in the Creuse, the sun was out so we decided to drive into the hills for a walk in the forest. Into the hills, this means a drive through narrow winding roads, through a couple of very small villages, through the gorgeous countryside and the hills that gradually get higher in the direction of the Massif Central.

It was only 10 a.m. that sunday morning, it was crisp and cold, and there was absolutely nobody on the road.

Birds were singing, there was some haze between the trees, and the grass was glittering with the first ice crystals that morning.[http://images2.travbuddy.com/1829587_13401522587515.jpg]

One of the first villages in the hills, St. Yrieix-les-bois, was still asleep. Some houses are owned by Parisiens and a couple of English, so the shutters were closed and it looked totally deserted when we drove into the village.

Then, at the road juncture in front of the centuries old church, there was suddenly a police car with two gendarmes standing next to it, who gave us the signal to stop!

I was totally surprised: what sort of terrible crime could have happened here, at this time on a November sunday?

One of the gendarmes walked to our car, and summoned me to open the window.

Then to my big surprise he held a breathalizer in front of me, and told me to blow. At first I could not, I just had to laugh.[http://images.travbuddy.com/1829587_13401515257082.jpg] How on earth did they expect people to drive under influence at this hour on a sunday morning. Or even more so, how on earth could they expect any drivers coming up at all in this sleepy, deserted village?

When I finally managed to blow, he showed me the reading, and it said 0.0 in green digits, which did not surprise me of course.

But before we drove on, I just had to ask them. I could understand that they try to catch speeding drivers in a last effort to make the budget for that month, but why were they here? And why now?

"Ah", the gendarme said, with a look in his eyes that hardly hid his dispise about such an ignorant foreigner.

"Les chasseurs, monsieur" (the hunters, sir), Pretending that I now saw the logic, I nodded and greeted the officer.[http://images2.travbuddy.com/1829587_13401522593401.jpg]

"Bonne journée", he said, "Bonne route", the other one added, and we drove on.

I still could not stop laughing, and asked my friend if she had any idea. And oh yes, she knew.

The hunting season had just started, which could easily be seen by many old small white Renault, Peugeot, and Citroën pizza delivery size of cars, that we saw later, standing along the road in the forest, between bushes and just parked in the sides of the country roads.

For some reason, all the hunters in the Creuse seem to drive the same kind of old cars. The back compariment has no windows and enough space for the hounds, to put the rifle, and to carry a deer or a boar after a successful hunt.

And on sunday morning, hunting comes with rituals.[http://images.travbuddy.com/1829587_13403731351966.jpg]Plenty of deer, but will the hunters be sober enough, that's the question....First of all, the hunters go to hunting mass very early in the morning where the priest will bless them and their hounds and pray for a successful and safe hunting event. Then they go to the "locale" of the local hunting club or to the café-bar.

And in order to warm up for a day in the outdoors, some of them may consume quite a bit of alcoholica, like cognac or eau-de-vie. Then the hunting event starts. It is not uncommon that some of them are so under the influence that they could not hit a can from five meters. Good for the boars and the deer, I thought.

"So they may come home without any game?", I asked my friend.

"Oh yes", she said, "that is very normal, but that is why some farmers have some game that they already shot the previous day. They sell them to the less successful hunters, and insiders know where to go. It prevents a lot of marital problems when they come home".

Now, to be honest, I am not a hunter and I personally don't like shooting, other than with my camera.

But I must say, every time when I am there, I learn and understand something new about the French countryside culture. And it is somewhat comforting that French hunting sometimes is more about the rituals around it than about the actual result...

Plus, as a bonus, I now also understood why in the total middle of nowhere, on a sunday morning at 10:15 a.m., when every normal person still turns around in bed for a few more hours of sleep, you can be stopped by the gendarmes for a breathalizer test! You'd better be warned!

Posted by westwind57 03:30 Archived in France Tagged nature france church countryside forest roadtrip sunday blessing hunting eau_de_vie hare mass creuse la_souterraine gueret

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