I’ve thought for a long time about writing this. I nearly wrote it last year but now, with the race finally upon us it seems only appropriate to tell you this story.
It was the end of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours, the one where the Toyota stopped on the last lap. Myself and three friends had been witness watching from the last corner and we were sunburnt, thirsty but also a bit hungry.
So we had a bit of a Google and Le Jardin Gourmand came up. Off we went then aboard my Renault Clio or ‘Furry’ as I had named it, after the tank Fury from the film of the same name. We turned down side roads then down a potholed track until we came to a large carpark with a walled garden. Through the entrance and you came to, Le Jardin Gourmand.
It was a posh restaurant at first appearance and in our regalia of day old sweaty clothes we looked just a tiny bit out of place with the decorum. Nonetheless it ended up being surprisingly affordable.
The biggest surprise was my pudding. Yes, a bit weird but I just ordered ‘Le Jardin Gourmand Cafe’, expecting just a small cup of espresso. I didn’t have that much cash left to hand and needed some for the fill up (underestimated what 4 guys in a fully loaded three door car would do to its mpg :-p ).
Along the puddings came and then mine. Yes, I had indeed ordered an espresso, and a mini cheese-cake, mini-gato, an apple based thing along with an apricot and cream concoction in a small cup. Bit of a surprise I can tell you.
And that wasn’t the only thing.
Now what I say next will sound unbelievably cheesy but trust me.
There was a waitress (here we go I hear you say). She was blonde, about our age at the time so around 18-20 and she had a nose piercing. But there was something, you know you have that moment with someone when it CLICKS. I had just noticed her demeanour compared to my other friends, it was just a bit friendlier and when we crossed paths in the restaurant there had been a long look between us.
Not Romeo and Juliet but I was moved to the extent that I had a bit of fiddle with Google translate and jotted down in basic French a thank you for the hospitality, but that also, I thought she was very beautiful.
So, whilst having a pre-drive back to the campsite piss I quickly rehearsed. She sees us out of the restaurant. I say the thank you, but lose my bottle on the last sentence.
I always thought about her, its why Le Mans holds a special place for me. Its not the just the racing, its not just the surreal quiet of the place when we drove back to the campsite and you could still smell the rubber from the tyres. It was the waitress from Le Jardin Gourmand.