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Pérouges – a village saved

Posted on July 30th, 2013

A hundred years ago, Pérouges was threatened with demolition. Once a thriving community of farmers and linen-weavers, in its heyday the village housed fifteen hundred persons. But threatened by factories, by-passed by roads and railways, the population had fallen to eighty by 1909. Moves were afoot to demolish the dying village and its unsafe dilapidated houses. During those many decades of decline, no-one had seen fit to rebuild Pérouges, resulting in a decayed but mostly intact medieval village. Enter Anthelme Thibault. In 1910 he launched an advertising campaign and formed a committee – Le Comité du Vieux Pérouges – attracting a membership of notables, artists and archaeologists. Demolitions were halted and houses repaired. Pérouges lies 30km northeast of Lyon, perched on a hill overlooking…

l’Apéro

Posted on July 27th, 2013

The original apéritif was created in 1846 by a chemist, Joseph Dubonnet. He had won a competition to persuade French soldiers in the Maghreb to drink bitter quinine as a protection against malaria – thus the first apéritifs were truly medicinal. Today apéros means an invitation for informal pre-dinner drinks and finger food. Drinks normally begin around 19:30 and last an hour, sometimes longer. On Friday we were invited to join a neighbour and her family for apéros at her beautiful house overlooking vineyards towards the Luberon mountain. The evening began with delicious pata negra ham from Jerez in Andalusia, with local Cavaillon melon, fougasse bread and tapenades. Our hosts insisted we stay for dinner, making ten adults and two small children dining under the stars. A magnum of Château Cos d’Estournel Saint-Estèphe 1988…

A criminal

Posted on July 25th, 2013

Today we received a visit from the local gendarmerie. Three police officers arrived from Bonnieux – a senior middle-aged man accompanied by a young man and a young woman officer who drove the police van. They were here because we are witnesses in a neighbourhood dispute. One of our neighbours has been lopping truffle oaks in order to secure a better view. Without thinking I donned this t-shirt to greet the visitors. The younger officer was not amused.

The attack

Posted on July 21st, 2013

This morning I was walking with Saffy our Welsh Springer Spaniel no more than three hundred metres from the house, when we spied a sanglier (wild boar) only thirty metres ahead. It was a lactating female of about 80 kilos. I stopped, hoping to get a photo, but the sanglier disappeared and Saffy went to investigate. Saffy quickly reappeared, racing towards me in terror. A moment later the sanglier burst from the bushes and charged us both at full speed. There was nowhere to go so I took a pace towards the boar and raised my arms. Disconcerted, the sanglier stopped only a metre away and we looked at one another. I roared as loudly as I could whereupon the sanglier turned and trotted off into the bushes. It was a…

Progress

Posted on July 20th, 2013

  Teams of arboristes have been felling pine trees on the north side of the colline in the Lacoste Woods. Saffy and I go walking there most days, but now the paths are impassable, covered with debris. The foresters are harvesting pine for the sawmills, but removal of pines also helps oak trees gain light and nutrients. A large tractor is employed to climb the steep hillsides and haul out logs. It creates far more damage than horse teams – see my earlier post HERE. The land seems violated. It is sad to think these forests will not recover in my lifetime. . The poplars are fell’d, farewell to the shade And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade, The winds play no longer, and sing in their leaves,…

A mistake

Posted on July 18th, 2013

There is a memorial on the D900/RN100, just outside Coustellet. It is after eight o’clock on the evening of 19th August 1944 and the occupying German troops are fleeing east towards the Alps. A small bus commandeered by the France-Lorraine resistance group coming from Bonnieux heads west to Coustellet, charged with harrassing the German retreat. The young bus driver, who knows the area, suggests they turn left under the railway to approach Coustellet by a safer back road. His leader refuses and orders him to continue. No more than two hundred metres after the turn, the bus is confronted by a German Panzer tank and supporting units coming in the opposite direction. The tank immediately opens fire with its machine-gun, while the bus driver…

More deudeuches

Posted on July 18th, 2013

These colourful Citroen 2CVs were seen recently in Lourmarin. An earlier post on the history of the 2CV can be found here.

French kiss

Posted on July 17th, 2013

Many of you will be thrilled to know that the publisher of French dictionary Petit Robert has announced a new word for the 2014 edition – galocher. The phrase “French Kissing” is thought to have originated with British and American troops returning from the First World War. Galocher has its origins in the word for clog or ice-skating boot. Something to do with slithering about. It’s good to see that France has her priorities right.

The doctor’s office

Posted on July 17th, 2013

In the centre of Cavaillon stands a remarkable old building, the Hôtel d’Agar. Dating from the 12th century, the house belonged to the Agar family, prominent local Catholics. In 1640 the family moved to another house on the Grand Rue. Remains of an Hellenic Temple have been discovered quite recently beneath the garden, along with a treasure trove of three hundred silver roman coins dating from the 1st and 2nd centuries. Around twenty years ago, the building was acquired by two local doctors, who installed consulting rooms. We met ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Valton in her room on the ground floor. The walls are lined with ancient cabinets and a complete 17th century pharmacy from Beaune. You may find more details at: http://www.hotel-dagar.com

Tour de France

Posted on July 17th, 2013

The Tour de France celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2013. The race originated in 1903 and has been held every year except during two World Wars. We were in Aix-en-Provence to see the start of the sixth stage from Aix to Montpellier, a distance of 177km. The entire population turned out to watch the promotional caravane and hope to secure gifts thrown from sponsor floats. Even the police had cars handing out promotional items – or was it parking tickets? Soon after almost two hundred riders completed a circuit of Aix before racing began in earnest on the road out of town. The stage was won by Andre Greipel in four hours and the yellow jersey secured by Daryl Impey.