I rented a car for the week and decided to take a leisurely drive to Plan de la Tour and get a feel for the place in preparation for Johnny’s arrival, whenever that may be. Unfortunately, when I went to pick up my reserved car with automatic transmission, I got “desole, nous n’avon pas les voitures automatique.” I’m stuck with manual transmission, So “leisurely” is going to be out of the question. But I’m going, dammit!
Perhaps it was stupid of me to think that getting to a small village in the Maures Massif (the small range of mountains where Plan de la Tour and Johnny reside) wouldn’t involve driving up any hills. I like to think of it as good old fashioned American optimism and can-do spirit. The kind probably that inspired the Donner party to set off on their adventure. They probably thought the squiggelly lines on their google map was just artistic license too.
I make it out of Vidauban without a problem and find the road sign pointing the route to Plan de la Tour. It looks pretty flat from here and I think I can manage it, so I cavalierly shift into 4th gear and get going. About a mile down the road I notice that this road only has one lane. And it’s getting steeper. A few moments later, I’m shifting into second gear and wondering how the hell I got on this mountain.
The view is heartbreakingly beautiful– rolling vibrant green hills dotted with wildflowers, laced with babbling brooks. Heartbreakingly because I can’t look at it or I’ll go off a cliff. Plus, I have to watch out for oncoming cars that may barrel around these hairpin turns. One blink of an eye, one spectacular sight and I could be toast. I’m sure there’s some greek tragedy in this horrible dilemna. I refuse to enjoy this view. I value life far too much!
I consider turning around and going back, but the road is too narrow to pull a u turn and I’m not comfortable enough with my reverse skills on a one lane road when I’m reversing towards oblivion, so I venture onward at about 10 miles per hour (in addition to being passed by several cars and trucks, I’m also passed by some bicyclists and a family of wild boar).
I find myself sucking in my stomach while crossing tiny bridges and driving by oncoming cars. I also find myself saying “oh god, oh god, oh god” a lot.
I’ve got to say, Johnny Depp is genius to find a village this hard to reach. Most of his stalkers are probably American women like me who can’t drive a stick shift. Right about now, I’m considering changing my stalking affiliation to Brad Pitt. His village, Brignoles is just off a nice, straight, flat roadway with lanes!). Ahhh, but I never want what’s easy.
After about an hour and a half in second gear while riding the clutch and holding my breath, I finally pass the Plan de la Tours sign. I’m at the top of a really windy hill/mountain, and there are a few homes…some with vineyards attached, some with “private” signs. I’m sure one of them is Johnny’s but there’s an oncoming truck, so I really don’t care. oh god, oh god, oh god.
A few more hairpin turns later and I’m at the old village of Plan de la Tours. At the first bit of land that looks park-able, I sputter in and shudder to a stop…just in the nick of time…there’s yet another one lane bridge over yet another goddamn babbling brook ahead.
As I cross the bridge by foot, and explore the picturesque streets and look for signs of Johnny (there are none, except maybe one guy who looks like he’s wearing eyeliner ala Captain Jack Sparrow) I realize I have a huge problem on my hands. How the hell do I get out of here? There’s no way I’m driving back on that road of death I came over on. And some of the other options google maps offered seem even more frightening. And just because a road sign points to “Vidauban” doesn’t mean it’s the easiest, straightest path. Nope. I’m stuck here.
I find a nice spacious place to squat at a cafe called “Le Plan” (or is it “la” plan?) in the Place de Mairie (townhall square). I figure if I eat really slow, sooner or later I’ll figure out what to do. Or maybe Johnny will show up and save me from all this.
So here I am, having a salade nicoise (I know, boring). Eating the kernels of corn (the French like to put corn in every salad) one kernel at a time. Mulling my options.
I wonder if they have a nice bed and breakfast around here. Somewhere I can afford to stay for an extended period until I figure out how to get out. Or at least get to Johnny’s house. Maybe he’ll let me stay there while he’s away if I promise to water his plants.
In the meantime, if you want to get in touch with me or send a helicopter, I’ll be at or around the Hôtel de Ville, Place Foch 83120, Le Plan de la Tour, France.
See more pictures of Plan de la Tour.