Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cheese and Rosemary Heaven

Today, our fourth in France, was another full day of tooling around the countryside. It was market day in La Bégude de Mazenc, so we went there first and bought bread and two wedges of these cheeses, pictured above, for more baguette sandwiches. The cheese vendor was very friendly and when she found out we were from Canada, naturally the conversation turned to the weather. In this part of France, she said, it snows very rarely and mostly in the mountains, and the temperature never really gets colder than minus five. Reason number 8394 why I love Provence.

We also bought some beautiful Teflon-coated tablecloth fabric in purple, olive and yellow, which will look great under the French dinners we'll be cooking for our friends soon. Provence is famous for its bright and colourful fabrics.

In the afternoon we set off for Grignan, one of the many fortified villages perched above valleys in Provence. It has a well-preserved Renaissance château, built in the mid 1500s. The château owes its celebrity to the French writer Madame de Sévigné, who visited and died here in 1696.

Along the footpaths were huge bushes of lavender and rosemary like the one pictured above. I couldn't believe how big they were, in fact, almost as big as me! It was so nice to see them in their native habitat growing to their full potential. I kept running my hands through them and sticking my nose in them. I thought of my own little rosemary plant, entrusted to Squeaky's dubious care while we were away, and I wished it were like this one. (The last plant that I had entrusted to Squeaky, a lavender plant, was put on her roof and forgotten about. But I'm happy to say that she took great care of my rosemary and African violet, albeit to the detriment of her other houseplants that I noticed were wilting when I went to pick mine up.)

This next picture on the right really shows how neat these fortified villages are. The ramparts, wash houses and earthworks surrounding the castle are so well preserved that they have become people's homes with the addition of openings for doors and windows. You can see that this is someone's backyard and in their garden the lovely rosemary and lavender plants are flourishing :)


Susan Jenny said...

Dear Asha,
I love reviewing the region I live in through your eyes. Thanks so much for taking me for a fresh look at Grignan, the market in La Bégude and even my own courtyard. It is still sunny but we miss the full table of chatting guests we had during your visit. It was a super time and we loved having you in our kitchen too! Big French hugs, Susan

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