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Food for thought

Posted on August 27th, 2011

The little village of Banon in Haute-Provence is mainly renowned for goat’s cheese wrapped in vine leaves, known as Banon à la feuille, but the village also boasts a remarkable charcuterie and an excellent pâtisserie. La Brindille Melchio offers a wide range of sausages and cooked meats made in-house, together with a variety of local goat and sheep’s cheese.  Monsieur Clauvis Melchio’s speciality is half-metre long brindilles, twig-like sausages prepared with pine-nuts, goat’s cheese, fennel, hazelnuts, or savory pepper. More here. Three doors away on the Rue de la Republique, La Banette Frejer is a most attractive pâtisserie, offering crunchy baguettes and delicious pastries and sweets. The people of Banon certainly eat well……………

La Louve

Posted on August 17th, 2011

Nicole de Vésian was a leading post-war French stylist, fashion designer and publicist.  Friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas and Picasso, she worked with Christian Lacroix and others, but is best known for her textile design work with Hermès. She retired in 1985 at the age of 69, only to lose her husband the following year, which led to her decision to buy La Louve in Bonnieux.  Thus began the remarkable story of this garden, created from nothing but a  ruined house and overgrown land.  Classified as a Jardin Remarquable de France, it is designed to merge with the natural landscape.  The garden has four major spaces, laid out in terraces, all using local rocks and smooth stones from the bed of the…

More curiosities

Posted on August 14th, 2011

Trompe l’oeil in l’Isle sur la Sorgue: Golden flowers: Moth in our house: Window sill, Apt: Tartiflette is made from potatoes, Reblochon cheese, cream and lardons or bacon pieces, from the Haute Savoie: Snails in our garden: French family planning posters: Scorpion on our kitchen wall: Vegetable seller, Coustellet market: Window dressing: Relaxing, Lauris: Typical avenue of plane trees: Lavoir, or public laundry, Lacoste: Holes smashed in 9th century baptistry ceiling to improve accoustics, Venasque: Pool-playing cats, restaurant-bar, Venasque: Pomme de terre: Monsieur Thédonat’s truck: More trompe l’oeil: Lost notice in Bonnieux – two sheep and two goats:

Child’s play

Posted on August 12th, 2011

Place Saint-Michel is a small square in the old town of Forcalquier, about one hour from Lacoste, as you climb eastwards into Haute Provence.  There is an old fountain in the square, built in 1511.  The base and ornamental spire, worn with age, have been replaced, but the stone carvings at the base of the spire are original. What appears to be an erotic carving is actually Le jeu du pet en gueule, a child’s game called “Fart in your face”. Haricot blancs à la sauce tomate – baked beans – are now on sale in French supermarkets…………..

Le crapaud

Posted on August 11th, 2011

For months we have had the company of a large resident crapaud, or toad. Saffy first sniffed him out in the courtyard, in winter.  He was living happily under the outside stairs with a loir, a dormouse.  Twice I managed to capture him in a bucket and took him two hundred metres away into the forest, but both times he returned. Once he hopped into the bedroom of our guests, much to their alarm.  Later we found him inside the house, but he hid under furniture and then escaped into the wine cellar, where he has been living for the past month.  Yesterday he obligingly climbed into the bucket so I drove him five kilometres towards Ménerbes and left him in a damp stream…

Morts pour la France

Posted on August 5th, 2011

Today Cavaillon is a smallish town of 26,000 persons, thirty kilometres east of Avignon and twenty minutes drive from Lacoste.  The town hall is a substantial building in the centre of the ville, with an imposing glass roof.  Cavaillon is renowned throughout France for its melons. Like all French towns and villages, Cavaillon honours the past.  Inside the courtyard there are numerous plaques to the fallen and the First World War memorial lists nearly four hundred names, a seemingly huge number for a modest town. Another plaque lists a further eighty names from the Second World War and there are additional memorials honouring those killed in Indo-China, Algeria and Lebanon.  Victims of work accidents are also remembered. Mounted on the wall is a copy…