Last week I returned to Catherine's large home near the village of Sarrians in Provence having spent a week in her Paris apartment. I met Catherine earlier this year to arrange a home exchange for 2014. I consider myself extremely fortunate to house and cat sit for her.
Catherine picked me up from the very modern Avignon TGV railway station; reminds me more of an airport than a railway station, and we drove directly to the village of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. I was looking forward to exploring the village's picturesque historic centre. Arriving earlier than expected, we had time for a drink at the local café. Whilst debating whether to sit in the sun or the shade a group of men brandishing guns rushed forward only a couple of metres us. Yelling loudly, they threw a customer to the ground, jumping on him. "Don't move" screamed one of them as he pointed his gun at us. The short double-barrelled gun looked like a toy and I thought it may be a prank or a film being made. It was all very surreal and at odds with the relaxed atmosphere on the sunny terrace of the café. The armed men then pulled on masks and slapped on armbands revealing that they were in fact gendarmes (police). Phones were pulled out and shortly after about a dozen police vehicles with uniformed police arrived. The masked gendarmes placed the man in one of the vehicles and whisked him off. The gendarmes disappeared back down the sidestreets as the uniformed police formed a loose cordon around the square. Gradually the uniformed officer got back into their vehicles one at a time and drove off.
|Scene of the violent arrest|