Sunday, June 23, 2019

Walking in my Nashville neighborhood ... with French surprises

On a beautiful day, not too warm (mid 80s F - 29C) with low humidity, I decided to walk in my Nashville neighborhood, Hillsboro-West End.  The center of Hillsboro Village is located along the former Hillsboro Road, now called 21st Avenue, about 3 miles from downtown Nashville.  Most of the neighborhood surrounding Hillsboro Village is on a grid as it was built in 1910 around a streetcar line running out Blair Boulevard.  It is assumed that Francis Nash (1742-1777,) a brigadier general in the American Revolutionary war, after whom Nashville was named, was raised in Hillsborough, NC; our village name was shortened to Hillsboro.  At the southwest end of the village are the neighborhoods of Hillsboro-West End (adjacent to West End Avenue close to Vanderbilt University) and Belmont-Hillsboro (adjacent to Belmont Avenue close to Belmont University and Lipscomb University.)  Below is the historical marker for Hillsboro-West End surrounded by lavender bushes.  Click on collage to enlarge.

A panel in front of my house says "Walking District" and it certainly is a walkable area with sidewalks along vintage homes.

Most of the houses are craftsman bungalows from 1910 to 1935.  There are also some houses built in the popular style of that period: Tudor Revival, Foursquare and English cottages.  I found my house listed in the Hillsboro-West End Historic District Register: Weatherboard Bungalow, c. 1925; irregular form; 1 1/2 stories; gable-end roof; gable dormer; recessed front porch, brick foundation, etc.  I took pictures of some of the houses along the way so you could have a look at the architecture.

Many houses have picket fences around their yards.  Most have porches and swings in them.  My neighbor across the street even has a vintage automobile (not sure of the brand or year) that compliments his house.

Most houses have grass and shrubbery in their front yards but some have pretty flowers and flowering bushes; there are many large trees.

If you walk closer to Belmont University you'll find some hip eateries, cozy cafes and cocktail bars, but closer to my home on Belmont Avenue there are larger historic homes dating from the 1900s and up, plus always nice sidewalks for strolling (or jogging or walking your dog.)  Both Hillsboro-West End and Belmont-Hillsboro are on the National Register of Historic Districts and are considered "trendy" and relaxed areas of Nashville.  The community is a mix of university academics, students, families, couples and young professionals.

My walk in the neighborhood was quite nice but tiring as there were no benches anywhere.  The next day the weather was still lovely, so I decided to walk toward the center of Hillsboro Village.  I found many benches along 21st Avenue.  It was pleasant walking under the large trees.

I walked by an historical panel and a mural.

Then I realized that this mural was on Belcourt Avenue.  Last April, a couple of blocks down Belcourt Avenue, my daughter, grandchildren and their Chinese au pair had gone to a new noodle shop called Meet Noodles.  We drove and I did not know it was less than a mile from my house.  Meet Noodles is an offshoot of a popular Brooklyn restaurant serving a variety of spicy noodle dishes from Chongquing, China.  Chongquing noodles, "little noodles" or xiao mian are traditional common street food served with or without soup plus a variety of meats, fish and vegetable.  The Chinese au pair said the food tasted authentic and my grandson ordered in the Chinese language (all the grandchildren attend a Saturday Chinese school nearby.)  My order, fish balls (below top right,) came in a bowl and was a huge portion.  I took part of it home.  Now I know I can walk back up to this noodle restaurant.

Next to the mural was the Belcourt Theatre, a historic movie theatre showing classics, documentaries, indie movies, foreign films, musical performances and live theater.  As I was checking the posters I noticed that in a few minutes the matinee featured that day was "Double-vies / Non-Fiction" a French movie, with English subtitles.  So, I stepped inside, of course!

The film was being shown in the 1925 historic hall (shown above.)  It was renovated with a larger screen, new sound system, new seats and more.  They have two other renovated halls from the 1960s.  Their snack bar offers local draft beers, wine and specialty cocktails to enjoy during the film.  They also have a standard concession with popcorn, candy and healthful snacks.  The theatre dates back to 1925 when it was a silent movie theater named The Hillsboro Theater.  Now as The Belcourt it is one of the very few theaters chosen to be a part of the USA Sundance Film Festival program.

It was still light and sunny when I left the theatre.  I started walking back up 21st Avenue.  A bicycle behind me used its horn.  Still thinking of the French movie I moved to the side and said in French "allez-y, passez" /go on, pass me.  I was surprised when the rider stopped and said "I can't believe an American speaking French with no accent!"  When I told him I was French he started talking to me, in French, telling me he was from the French Antilles (not sure which one, maybe Martinique, Guadeloupe or St. Martin) and we had a nice conversation.  That day in honor of the French women soccer team who had won a match in the World Cup I was wearing my blue French soccer tee-shirt.  Walking still up 21st Avenue I passed by the outside eating-drinking area of Double Dogs, where you can eat, drink and listen to live music.

As I came closer to Double Dogs, a young man, who was sitting there with a friend during the Happy Hour, said to me "that's a neat tee-shirt" so I responded "it's a French tee-shirt" and he replied "Je sais, je suis francais." (I know, I am French.)  I was surprised because usually in the US a young person rarely talks to a senior.  All through my walks in Nashville, never anyone has talked to me, and I passed by many young people.  Well, he was French, and that does explain it.  Seniors are not as invisible in France as in the US.  I stopped and talked with them for a while, about soccer first.  He told me he had just moved from Minnesota to Nashville and was originally from Lyon, France.  After a nice chat, in French, I went on up the avenue.  It certainly had been a charming afternoon, full of French surprises.  Below is the French feminine soccer team playing in the World Cup 2019.  They won their match against Brazil today, June 23, 2019, and now can go on to the quarter finals (photos courtesy


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much for taking us walking through your delightful neighbourhood. The benches on your second day's walk look very welcoming.
I loved hearing that seniors are not invisible (or worse treated with disdain) in France.

Christine said...

What a beautiful walk! Loved seeing all the houses, there are some interesting designs. I thought at first you were going to compare it with Belleville!
I have found that the French peoples (Parisian mainly) always treat you as equals but are just soooo quick to offer a helping hand..... and even walk the further mile. Over here in England we are ignored or treated as though we are senile! lol
Thanks for sharing.

Arti said...

Wish I were there with you in your walk in the Hillsboro neighborhood. You can share with me your thoughts on the French film, and I can order noodles in Chinese. That Meet Noodles place looks very authentic indeed. I wanted to read the menu in details but the Chinese words are too blurry when I enlarged the photo. BTW, did you like the film Non-Fiction? I saw it at a Film Festival. Juliette Binoche is one of my all time faves.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

The craftsman style houses are lovely as well as the other architecture and landscape. I have heard from many people I know that the Nashville area is a very cool place to live.

We have a similar theater in our town. Built in the early part of the twentieth century, it has been renovated and expanded to the mid-century bank next door and shows interesting foreign movies, indies, and an occasional blockbuster. The concession stand, with beer and wine served, is also similar. Although I am not French, I do enjoy French movies there. They are always well done.

Thank you for taking us on your walk around your town.

Linda Starr said...

I think the car is a DeSoto or a Chrysler perhaps 49 or 50, love the Craftsmen homes

Divers and Sundry said...

Hello from a Memphis "neighbor" :)

What a lovely neighborhood! It must be wonderful to have such good walkable streets and destinations so close :)

We've been following the World Cup and saw the game the French won against Brazil. So exciting! We're bad-mouthing VAR here and hoping they get a handle on how to better make use of it.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, Your new neighborhood looks lovely! We really like the craftsman style but didn't want to deal with an older home. On top of that the style doesn't exist in our community...which started up in 1987. Streetcars...I wish they'd make a come back. I ride them wherever i can find them and photograph them when in a museum setting. I think that your neighbors old car is a Chrysler from the late 1940s or early 1950s. Having that old movie theater and restaurants near you is a real plus. Two French speaking residents on a single day's walk...enjoyable for you I'm sure! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

DJan said...

What a delightful walk! It's wonderful to hear that you are enjoying your new neighborhood, and that you can get out and walk around safely. I love that you had two French conversations in a single outing. More to come, I suspect. Thanks for taking me along with you on this walk. :-)

Jenny Woolf said...

It is a charming and peaceful looking area. I think if I lived there I would like to take walks around the place too. I really love to see old cars like that one. I love to ride in them too. They seem altogether more spacious and welcoming than modern ones, probably (in truth) because they weren't designed for safety! I find Far Eastern food very difficult, I am allergic to some of the ingredients I found out, so I guess I miss out on a lot of treats.

BeachGypsy said...

I so enjoyed this lovely post and seeing all the scenes from your neighborhood! Seems to be a lovely and peaceful place, and I sure do love the history and the old homes. A nice walk is doubly enjoyable when you can have a conversation, long or short, with a new friend. So glad you enjoyed your walk and I hope you'll take us on more sometime? PS...if you get time can you maybe help me with the mystery of the dog's name in one of my recent posts, I think it was two posts back? Thank you so much, I don't speak French and I've wondered what the dog's name was. Hope you are having a real nice week.

Roderick Robinson said...

All sorts of echoes. For one thing I live in a suburb of the city of Hereford, UK, called Belmont. Not so surprising but perhaps this extract from my novel, Out of Arizona, is arguably more enchoey.My central character, Jana, suffers from naevus flammus (port-wine

stain). Following an unhappy love affair she leaves Arizona and finds work piloting small planes in south-west France

American and French loneliness were different. Here it had been briefer, simply a matter of getting used to the terrain. She’d made acquaintances at the airport, over shop counters, at the mairie. In her home country loneliness was directly related to her imperfection. In France imperfections – physical and mental – attracted less discrimination. Two of Mme le Lannic’s neighbours had daughters with Downs syndrome and when their families met other families in the village Jana noticed that the children were not ignored but drawn into the conversation.

Soon I will be in France, seizing every opportunity to engage with the French in their own language. Each year my abilities diminish, the idioms dry up, my hearing gets poorer, and those "difficult first five minutes" get longer. But through sheer will-power I endow what I say with the unexpected, my aim being to make the French laugh. Most times, and often reluctantly ("Who does this Rosbif think he is?") on their part, I succeed. A real holiday.

Your encounters with the young Lyonnais and the chap from the Antilles charmed and touched me.

Mae Travels said...

I've lived in a neighborhood of that vintage all my life. Currently, if I took a walk for a few blocks around my house, I would see many houses just like the ones in your photos. A few of the homes here were built from kits that would be shipped with all the materials and lumber and even the nails, mainly from Sears-Roebuck. I wonder if there are some of those in your neighborhood too. I'm enjoying your photos and thinking I should do exactly the same thing around my house (though the restored movie house is a bit over a mile from here, so I might not get it on one photography oriented walk).

best... mae at

Magic Love Crow said...

Truly a beautiful neighbourhood! Love all the photos! The food looks great too! I love that you had the French conversation with the young man! Big Hugs!

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, this was a lovely, gentle, serene, observant, and yes, joyous posting in which we all got to accompany your on your walk. You have such a light touch on life--by that, I mean gentle--you appreciate beauty and do nothing to besmirch it.

I am just so glad that you got to see a French film and meet two young people who engaged you in a conversation spoken in your native language. How refreshing that must have been. Invigorating and surprise too.

Unfortunately, the US ended up the winners in the game with France on Friday. I'm not a real soccer fan but I find myself wanting the US to be defeated. They are I'm sure fine players and I like what they are trying to do to get women's soccer in the public eye, but they seem just a little too self-assured for my taste.

Take care. Thank you for another lovely post with photographs that always enhance your words. Peace.

The Liberty Belle said...

Sounds like you live in a nice place. I like that he noodle shop and theater are within walking distance. Glad you met nice people during your walk.

Jeanie said...

You live in a great looking neighborhood. I love homes from that period, so much more interesting than cookie-cutter modern ones. And fun you are in walking distance from some fun spots!

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde, I liked your Hillsboro neighborhood. The architecture is amazing. Sure your home is pretty nice among them.
Fantastic that you have met many French speaking people in the village. Maybe there is a French school as well. Thank you for interesting post, I'd like to walk with you along the streets.

Glenda Beall said...

I loved going on the walk with you around your lovely neighborhood. I think I would like that area even though I am a country girl at heart. So nice for you to have two conversations in French in one day. I'm sure you are not invisible anywhere. I agree though, that seniors are often invisible in the USA. I recently had a long talk with a manager of a restaurant in Roswell, GA about how so often single older women are forgotten when dining there and they were so sorry and comped my meal because of the poor service. I was not asking for a free meal. I was simply trying to educate them about their treatment of single older people, especially women.

Arti said...

I just posted a review of a French film that I think you'd enjoy: Un dimanche à la campagne. It's for a blogging event called Paris in July. I think you'll enjoy that too. :)

Jeff said...

I love walking through cities and neighborhoods, especially older ones which seem to have more charm. Chinese and a beer also makes a nice destination. Thanks for taking us along.

Amanda said...

Joyeuse Fete Nationale!!!!!

Thérèse said...

Tu sais, comme toujours, bien ficeler tes billets.
Ton quartier à Nashville, les maisons, le cinéma, la touche française avec ces deux rencontres. Tout y est, même le délicieux repas chinois. Je suis étonnée par la verdure foisonnante!
Peut-être passerais-je un jour à Nashville, notre numéro 2 ayant déménagé à Chattanooga il n'y a pas longtemps.

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