At last night’s Winemaker’s Dinner at Le Ranquet, we met a couple who lived in the village of Sauve in the Département du Gard. They informed us that it was a village that was very bizarre and very interesting, and it would be on our way as we headed to Nîmes today. So, of course, we had to check it out. Just as we arrived into the lively main square of the beautiful medieval village, strolling past the colorful market vendors, we ran into one half of the couple we met last night, Joachim, who recognized us before we recognized him. He was very friendly, and introduced us to another friend of his, Jeremy, who happened to walk by while he was talking to us. They were excited about a newspaper article that had just appeared in Le Figaro, which recounts the simmering battle currently taking place here in Sauve, a normally serene and picturesque hamlet of less than 2000 inhabitants. The bone of contention has split the village into two, with one faction siding with the local villager fighting to sell his warehouse to a discount supermarket chain called Ed, while the other faction is siding with an American outsider fighting to maintain the character and the lifestyle that attracted him to this medieval village which he has made his home for the last 15 years. An interesting note, and the most likely reason that this story has drawn national attention, is that the American fighting to preserve his way of life in Sauve is none other than the renowned American cartoonist, Robert Crumb, of Fritz the Cat and Keep on Truckin’ fame back in the late 1960s & ‘70s. We were familiar with him, for the most part, because we had seen the documentary, “Crumb” (by Terry Zwigoff, 1994), which chronicled a portion of his life while he lived in San Francisco.
After stopping for a cup of coffee in the lively main square, where everyone seemed to know each other, we picked up some local specialties from the Saturday marché, and then strolled along the small walkways and alleys of Sauve, coming across many of these “Sauvons Sauve !” (Let’s Save Sauve !) posters affixed to walls and doors all around the village, drawn in the incontrovertible “R. Crumb” style. I thought much later that maybe I should have taken one of the posters – you never know, it might be a collector’s item someday.
By the way, we never understood the comment about Sauve being bizarre. We only saw that it was very beautiful and very interesting. Maybe it takes more time to discover the bizarre.