Ever since discovering this region of France, I have been amazed by the strong discrepancy between the romantic history permeating its scenery and the modern way it is typically touted for tourism as pass-through country, only to be spend one or two nights on one’s hasty way to the alluring South.
At least once every year our local newspaper publishes a headline that is loaded with demoralized sighing: if only we had mountains or sea, money would come rolling in. Much to our great relief, the French holiday industry, so successful in selling the ideal representation of cultural unwinding elsewhere, doesn’t seem to have a clue how to attract the masses to the many historic places of interest in our beloved Berry.
They nevertheless pull out all the stops: on every corner of every winding road you will find a polished sign reminding you that you are following the Route of Romanticism, in the footsteps of George Sand, probably leading you to yet another establishment commemorating the life and works of Frederic Chopin, even if it is just a hotel.
Although it doesn’t necessarily have to be true you’ll get the impression that you are dealing with a return to the original, untouched nature, in a true Romantic fashion, longing for a past from before the Industrial Revolution, offering peace and healing to l’Homme Sauvage, as described by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
It indeed strikes me very odd that the ideals of all of these classic cultural heroes, still so ubiquitous in our nature and in all its vistas, do not appeal to a larger crowd in this day and age. Odd but not unwelcome, as we have become so protective of what it all still entails for us, even though we have never really mind sharing.
Some news outlets are currently pointing towards an upcoming Parisian exodus into our area, rapidly buying up the many vacant properties. Now that Corona has taught them the joys of teleworking, they might finally answer the call of the authenticity and mysticism of our surroundings, providing an escape from their raw contemporary reality.
We’ll see. It’s either that or moving mountains or sea, right?