In the rain we walked Saint-Hubert’s gritty and gloomy streets. The water ran in streams from the awnings of cafes, hammered against the church roof. All we wanted was a portion of frites, preferably smothered in thick, warming cheese sauce. It was not to be. The chip-shop was closed. We stood outside its locked door and stared at it awhile, the rain creeping in beneath our waterproofs via our sleeves and our necks. We ran for the woods.
Saint-Hubert in the Ardennes is a hunters' town, its roundabouts and bistro walls decorated with stags and wild boar, a town named for the patron saint of hunters (alongside mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers) whose status depended on a vision whereby, at the end of it, he spared the stag. Some hunter. Under the shelter of the forest we explored a game reserve on the edge of town, spying wild boar and deer in a place of protection and celebration yet where we paid our admission in a cafe beneath a pair of antlers, a collection of old guns, and other symbols of the hunt.
We did not look at the menu. Saint Hubertus may have spared the stag, but this was still a hunters' town.
By Paul Scraton
Photo by Katrin Schönig