That's what radio show host Laurent Ruquier wanted to find out on Wednesday.
His "quest" proved to be almost a "mission impossible".
|Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez (from Wikipedia, photographer Jean-Paul Cronimus)|
For those of you not familiar with Ruquier, he's a well-known journalist, satirical comedian (whether you find him funny is another matter), columnist, author, playwright, impresario - in fact an all-round talent basically.
He also hosts both television and radio shows and among them is the daily chat show (of sorts) on Europe 1 radio "On va s'gêner" .
Ruquier takes an often irreverent look at some news headlines by having his faithful band of fellow commentators guess "what the story is" after giving them the briefest of clues in the form of a question which doesn't give away too much of the answer and then...well let's things develop from there.
On Tuesday apparently one of the regulars, veteran journalist Pierre Bénichou, had mentioned that the cathedral in the southern town of Rodez in the département of Aveyron was red.
Not so, said Ruquier the following day, relying on information he had been provided by a listener who insisted that Bénichou had confused the cathedral in Rodez with the arguably more famous one in Albi in the neighbouring département of Tarn (which is well-known for its red brick buildings).
When Bénichou stuck to his guns, Ruquier decided he would ring the Town Hall in Rodez to check who was right.
After all, who better to ask than the people responsible for running the place?
This wasn't a prank call or Ruquier trying to mess around. He genuinely wanted an answer to the question as to whether the cathedral in Rodez was red.
But from the very start it was clear he wasn't going to get a quick answer.
What happened over the next 13 minutes (you can hear the exchanges here) almost defies belief...except it doesn't.
At the beginning it was amusing. Several minutes of radio which perfectly reflect how difficult it can sometimes be to get even the simplest of answers to the most innocent of questions.
Gradually though it became both frustrating and embarrassing.
First of all Ruquier was answered by a receptionist who, clearly not wanting (or able) to answer the question herself, put him on hold while she put him through to the "right department".
Once connected Ruquier repeated his question and once again was put on hold until the person in charge could be found at which point...he landed an answerphone.
Another attempt to call the Town Hall had Ruquier once again transferred from person to person, each one unable or unwilling to answer his question until finally he was put through to one woman who replied rather abruptly, "Who are you?" before giggling and putting the the 'phone down.
Ruquier tried another tack and rang the Bishopric where a woman was unable to answer because she had "a window in her office which didn't faced the cathedral!". Appearing to have been cut off, Ruquier called back only to be told by the same woman, "I'm too busy. to answer. Goodbye."
Next Ruquier turned to what he thought was a local café where a woman replied quite convincingly that the cathedral was neither red nor pink. "It's grey," she asserted. "We're in Aveyron here, not in Tarn."
Ruquier had his answer. Someone in Rodez, a town with almost 25,000 inhabitants and which boasts the rather splendid Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez (built from 1277 to 1542 - thank you Wikipedia) had been able to answer his question...INCORRECTLY.
Because later in the show Ruquier had the mayor of Rodez Christian Teyssèdre who, while insisting that the staff at the Town Hall were a "cheerful crowd" confirmed (at 68 minutes) that the cathedral was, "Red or rather pink as we say here."
Phew. At least one Ruthénois who knows what colour the building is.
Perhaps Ruquier should have rung the Tourist Office instead. Someone there would have been able to tell him that the cathedral was made from red sandstone - er...you would hope.