Tonnerre, France

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This is a view of Tonnerre, a small town in Burgundy. You can buy escargots in the local butcher shops. You can also find Marc de Bourgogne at a wine merchant’s shop off the autoroute. It’s a shabby cousin to the very groomed and much more famous town of Chablis a few kilometers away.

Many of the houses are empty. You can peer into them and see old beams, fallen stones and the usual trash that accumulates on empty floors — empty bottles of booze and McDonald’s wrappers even here. Some stray cats, their teeth black, will check you out, looking for a handout.

But the Église St. Pierre broods over the town, the rust-red tiles of the roofs, the canals reflecting the old rose and sand colored stucco of the houses, and the inevitable geraniums in the window give the place a lot of charm. Cracks in the bricks, the skewed lace curtains at the windows. crumbling stones, rusty shutters, the still surface of the canals reflecting tangled branches — you feel age and, yeah, decay in the old town. It wears time on its sleeve. It’s imperfect, used, and worn around the edges.

Although it is beautiful, it is not quaint.

And thank God for that.