Tuesday, September 04, 2007

French Holiday

It feels like ages, I have not blogged since the last day of July! Well, we are back home and things are settling down to normal routines, with the only exception being the confirmation Mrs S just had; she has had a broken bone in her right hand for seven weeks! How did it happen? Office filing work! A big box file fell off a shelf and managed to hit her hand most unfortunately. How’s that for bad luck!

Anyway, finally I have organised pictures and clips so I can share some of them with you.

It is always interesting to see in what state the house and garden is when we get to our holiday home in Normandy after a long drive. Remember the snake? This time the first animal I came across when I inspected the old wood shed was this fellow…

… a stag-beetle on his way into the wood shed. I opened the door to follow him in to see what he would do and where he was heading and found myself staring at the ubiquitous grass snake lying on a shelf twenty centimeters from my face. He was quicker than I was and disappeared before I could chase him with my camera. They are pretty territorial, so I believe it was the very same snake that landed on my head that time.

Since I did not prune the fruit trees last year, we had a decent crop of both plums and apples.

One day, a really hot summer’s day, for once, we went to Domfront, where there was a medieval festival with all sorts of activities. All jolly good fun and pleasing pleasantries.

We like to take a little mini holiday when we are in France, and this year was no different. We went south-east towards some famous wine districts, stopping over at Moulins, an interesting town with plenty of old buildings, full of character. The French love their Jeanne d’Arc, and we found her in the cathedral.

There were some beautiful stained-glass windows, and this one was not difficult to understand.

Talking about glass and character, have a look at this magnificent Grand Café in Moulins. Not bad, eh?

On with the journey! We followed this route…

… which took us to some very interesting places through a beautiful, sometimes breathtaking landscape. The roads were winding along the mountain sides with no barriers of any kind. If you lost concentration while driving, you might end up rolling down the steep mountain side, ruining several vineyards for generations to come.

At the first place we stopped for the night we also did some tasting and were shown some of the wine-producing equipment.

The last two nights we stayed in a place, Vaux en Beaujolais, that has been made famous through a book made into film. Gabriel Chevallier wrote ‘Clochemerle’ in the 1920’s. Everybody knows it is about Vaux, and the main street is even named after the author. The French film starred the comedian and actor Fernandel, and the Brits made their own TV series of it, with British actors of course. The plot is simple; the village people disagree where to put the new ‘pissotière’ with comical consequences.

There is a little spinning theatre with narration in the village centre. Visiting children loved to start the show by pushing the big button and run in and out of the exhibition urinal in the square while their parents were tasting wine in the ‘cave’. Get the picture? Parents enjoying themselves and kids running riot, unsupervised! All too common I’m afraid.

We stayed in the Auberge de Clochemerle, which was a wonderful experience. It was run by a young couple; he was the chef and she the wine expert and head waitress. The food was absolutely sensational, I bet they were going for a one star Michelin rating. They also collaborated with three other couples who ran vineyards offering package deals for a day. The village is tiny but well worth a visit, as is the whole district of Beaujolais.

The village demonstrated a somewhat schizophrenic image, or had they just made a new film from the book?

It was an experience to remember, driving through villages with name signs like wine bottles; we even came through Morgon, which was our wedding wine. I kept saying ‘ooh, I like that one’, nearly every time we entered a village. Life could be worse, couldn't it? In the end we had to return to Normandy so we could sit in front of the fire, yes, the fire, in August! That’s all I have to say about the weather. Full stop!

Au revoir Clochemerle!

When we returned to Normandy... the weather was still...(ooops, I said not to speak about the weather!)... we did not spend as much time as we would have liked in the garden doing garden work due to unforeseen high levels of humidity in the vegetation. I got away with that didn't I?

So one evening we drove to Laval where they had yet another medieval thing going, serving suspicious-looking food, street performances and even 'goosing'. No, not the way you might think!. Have a look!

(Joke for Swedes: "Jaaau e en liden gååsapåg från Skåååuune...")

Au revoir encore une fois! (Or is that 'fois gras'!?)


Eric Valentine said...

I just love all your pictures Swen. Seeing those places almost made me feel like I was there.

Great post annd thans for sharing. :)

Lynda said...

Oh that was lovely - I feel like I went on a little mini holiday with you. mmmmmm goose.... fois gras.....mmmm wine LOL