Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lunch at the Château

S and I roamed the countryside on our third day in Provence, stopping in random towns and wild corners, wherever looked interesting or like it had secrets to give up. We had rented a car in Valence for the week, so the world of Provence was ours for the exploration. We started what was to become a habit during our free time: Pack a lunch, look at the map, plot a random winding course and go.

My favourite part of this particular ramble was our discovery of the little vieux village of Soyans. As we were rounding one of the scary blind corners that seem more common in Provence that straight roads, I saw an old crumbling château on top of a small mountain in the distance. "Let's go there," I shouted. Yippee — I had found a castle, one of my favourite things!
We parked as close as we could, and walked through an ancient little village — can you imagine owning the view from this little backyard on the right? Then we walked past a sign that we couldn't completely translate but which was some official notice from the mayor saying Interdit (forbidden), and up an ancient-looking, sunken stone staircase already half reclaimed by the soil.

Many stairs later, we came across this crumbling church, and just behind it to the north, some castle ruins where men were busy doing restoration work (hence the interdit signage). There was a sign identifying the church as Église St. Marcel. It was built in the 12th century and is dedicated to St. Marcellus, the 5th century bishop of a nearby town called Die.

The church dominates the valley of the River Roubion to the east and the village to the west. The view, as you can see from my photo, is breathtaking.

We ate lunch here while enjoying the scenery. We had done some grocery shopping the previous day, so I had packed baguettes. Here's the recipe for our French lunch at the château:

Take one-half of a baguette from the boulangerie, generously slather on some Dijon mustard, fill with strips of local picodon goats' cheese and prosciutto slices, and enjoy on top of a French mountain with eroding medieval ruins in the background!


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