Pontarlier (France)

For a change of pace and scenery, yesterday Jo and I ventured back to the town of Pontarlier which is just over the Swiss-French border above Vallorbe in the Jura Mountains. We drove through here in January on our way back from Burgundy but the cold and icy conditions in the lateness of the weekend encouraged us to drive on without stopping to look around.
Pontarlier is built on the site of an old Roman station and on the international international road and trade route that has connected Italy to the Jura, Burgundy, Flanders and Champagne regions since the days when Roman Empire chariots could be heard hurtling through the canyons before breakfast. Today, it’s nine am on a Saturday (and yes I do know that’s a line from Billy Joel’s Piano Man) and the town is still quite asleep until most of the retail traders decide to roll up the shutters at ten am. Pontarlier is also mentioned a few times in Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’.

I know the driving laws are lax in France but this is ridiculous

After a quick troll of the main drag Jo and I split up so that she could enjoy her retail therapy uninterrupted and I scoured the side streets for a locals only coffee shop and photo opportunities.
The frames for a new canvas were light on but the coffee shop/bar was kinda of cool. When I walked in the man and woman behind the counter both walked over to me, shook my hand and greeted me before taking my order. The room had around a dozen people in it drinking coffee alone and in groups, some dunking croissants for good measure. There were three guys at the bar about my age who had obviously seen better days and nights, drinking beer and red wine, discussing the newspaper headlines much like the punters in Billy Joel’s song. If you added a piano and let the owner ‘light up a smoke’ for someone, you could easily have been in the original Piano Man bar. 

I filled in an hour or so in a sport’s shop and secured a Lyon football jersey (In my favourite colours of maroon and gold) to add to my European collection and in the Virgo Music shop which had an awesome collection of CD’s, new vinyl, dvd’s and Manga books. I picked up a double vinyl copy of Springsteen’s new Wrecking Ball album which also included the full CD of the album. At 25 euros it was the. find of the day for me. 

Also had an old style headphone listen to Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s latest album, Area 52. Such hot music from two hot musicians. For a good ten minutes I couldn’t decide which album I preferred as I could only buy one, Bruce’s or R n G’s, but the double vinyl won out in the end. For me, in this mortal life, nothing beats time well spent in a music shop that caters for all tastes and has dozens of headphone sets hooked up for the freeloaders to get down and feel good.
Does guitar playing get ny hotter than this?

Jo and I reconnected where she found me reflecting into the window of a patisserie (a cultivated habit I will definitely miss in Australia). She had had success with finding a groovy outfit and it was time to eat and a bit of grocery shopping. 
On the way home we drove up the hill to have a closer look at The Chapelle L’Esperence, a cute little church built in the mid 1800‘s that stands watch over Partelier. Jo commented that the whole scene from up there looked like a scene from a movie set. 

After driving through the Pontarlier Gap, lined with melting snow and trout fishermen (well they looked like trout fishermen), we stopped and got a couple of shots of the Chateau de Joux that has dominated this important trade route for over a thousand years and in forty five minutes we were back at home.


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