We wandered through our village's square, past the giant Christmas tree decorated by the little kids from our village jardin d'enfants (pre-school), and through the orchard of trees dripping with icicle lights and shooting stars. We ambled down the main street, and paused in front of the Auberge Cheval Blanc (aka 'the lovely place to eat' as J has dubbed it) to admire the candles softly glowing through the windows and the pretty tree shining on the terrace.
Then I realized that I wasn't alone. Less than a foot away from me, Mario the chef, was quietly plucking olives from the tree growing in the restaurant's garden behind a low stone wall separating the Auberge from the street. We exchanged polite "bonsoirs", he offered me an olive which I accepted with thanks, and then I carried on as if this was something a Canadian girl experienced regularly. He didn't hear me chuckle in amazement.