Thursday, April 12, 2012

Settling In in France...Fumel, Aquitaine, Lot-Garonne, Dordogne

Well, I've done it. I managed to lose our two most recent unposted blogging entries. It's a long story which I am embarrassed to relate. The short rendition is, Don't delete your Blogger+ App because you lose your archived entries and unposted entries.

I'll do my best to reconstruct what we've done since arriving in Fumel.

04/07, Saturday
John and Madeleine have taken exceptional care of us, escorting us to markets days, on walks along the River Lot, driving to several small towns in Lot-Garonne Department (a section of the Aquitaine Region, equivalent to a county within a state), lending us their car for exploring, giving us suggestions of places to visit, and treating us a fine dinner in their home. That's the brief of everything so far.

04/08, Sunday, Easter Day
The Catholic church is a short walk up the hill. We are there at 11:00 for Easter mass. We're the only ones there! Are we early? Is Easter celebrated on a different Sunday in France? So, we walk to the hospital where we had read there would be a service. Nope! Maybe Easter is not a big deal here because as we returned to the Centre Ville, there was a crowd shopping at the street market. Easter Day must be an American invention.

There are several large rivers in this area...the Lot, the Dordogne, and the Gargonne. The towns along the rivers and in the cliffs above are typical French villages, many are centuries old. Some are categorized as "bastides". 

In centuries past, the King or Lord enticed some of the population to form a town usually along a river. These towns were/are have a planned layout with streets, churches, shops, and homes centered around a marketplace..which is designed for commercial activity. The King or Lord benefited by collecting taxes from the merchants. In the 1600s this was a new concept. Today it's how we live and shop.

Sunday, J&M drove us about in the Lot-Garrone Department visiting a couple of bastides. We started at an Iris Farm near the little village of Beaugas. The iris are not in bloom yet, but several other spring annuals were out. The "farm" is private property which the owners plant and evidently use for parties. An old stone windmill marks the farm. It can be used as an overnight getaway.

From there we drove to Villereal where we enjoyed hot chocolate at a little cafe on the place (square, piazza). This village is a perfect bastide-style town with all the elements of design for a commercial center.

Then we went on to Monflanquin which had a flea market (jumble sale) aka "clean out the attic" fair, and a plant sale. There were a few antique French cars parked in the market square, a Peugot, a Citroen, and a Renault. A pallet-knife artist was demonstrating his skill with oil paint. Impressive imagination and eye for color and shapes.

Mom prepared dinner for all four of us in our apartment which is beneath J&M's home. We have a separate entrance, kitchen, and comfy living space. We shared Innkeeper memories and stories. Madeleine told us of her travels in the USA in the 60s, across country from DC to SF and Las Vegas. Quite a story!

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