While we are undertaking a bathroom remodel on the 2ème étage, which in American English means the 3rd floor, one of my chores is to score a parking spot for our contractor. Street parking in the center of town is strictly subdivided into pay parking and free parking, whereby the free parking is a minimum 10 min. hike from the actual center. Every single parking spot in the center, on both sides of the Charente, is pay parking with a 2-hour limit. During the week, the pay periods run from 10 to 12 in the morning and 2 to 5:30 in the afternoon. So even around the town center, you can park for free overnight and from Friday 17:30 to Monday morning 10:00, and naturally during the sacrosanct lunch time.
All of this means that although most spaces around our house are occupied overnight, many people leave for work in the morning, freeing space temporarily, which is quickly grabbed by people who arrive early for work around here. Our contractor drives a fourgonnette, a good sized van to transport all his tools, equipment, supplies, and bits & pieces. Because he needs to have access to his van during the day, he can’t park in the free lots. That’s the reason I start my day watching the comings and goings of the parking ballet outside my ground floor window from 7:45 onward each morning, to catch a two-spot opening we need for him. When that occurs I throw on my jacket and race outside with my two red and white heavy rubber cones to reserve the space. Of course, this action is entirely illegal. Nevertheless everyone respects those desperate striped markers, which scream please let my park here, I really truly need that space. These cones show up all over town, whenever a contractor or a repair person has to put his or her vehicle close to the job site. Once I had to put a little notice on someone’s windshield, asking to ring my bell when he needed to leave, because we had to block his car. No problem, no complaints. People are kind.
As I drank my coffee one of these mornings, one eye firmly on the traffic one eye on the computer screen, I suddenly noticed something big blocking the light to my window.
There is only one way out of this warren of narrow streets in the Old Town and it wasn’t his lucky morning to take that wrong turn. How they manage to drive large trucks and vans through here is beyond me. It reminds me of the bus drivers in Costa Rica, stunt drivers the lot of them!
Good riddance to the sewage truck! So much nicer to behold this Italian beauty next to my parking cones.