It's hot, sunny mid-June in the Dordogne. You are in a bastide, one of those square fortress towns built 600 summers ago in the days when gates were still a better idea than gites.
But instead of some medieval thug in a chain-mail suit, the first thing you see is a middle-class Dutch hippy with his hair in a plait running a stand in the central square, selling spices all the colours of the rainbow. Next to him is a Frenchwoman with her Moroccan husband, who look as though they might have spent 25 years living in India and now run a boutique specialising in a type of musical instrument known only to the tribal people of Uttar Pradesh.
Half-baked notions of history will interrupt your sun-stricken stupor. Didn't these bastide towns once teem with men for whom civilisation meant never committing disembowelments after lunch?
Then you'll look around again and see civilised tourists like you and me - no football hooligans here - sitting in the square under the arches drinking morning coffee and surreptitiously reading the English papers, all making passable attempts to speak in French as a means of not letting their nationality be known.
There won't be any cars because the surprisingly modern municipal authorities will have banned them from the town decades ago, so instead there'll be cobbles and pigeons and vendors selling spices all colours of the rainbow, etc. …