Fiona Alderman: Another Place in History
After a difficult and sad month, I then caught Covid, so have had plenty of time to reflect on the past and I am now moving on , but slowly. Especially in this terrible heat?
This past weekend our Chateau has hosted a spectacular historical event called Les Opusculaires.
Not knowing the word, I asked several French friends who were none the wiser. Coming from opus and a work to be documented, I went down there not knowing what to the expect. A troupe of people that are just passionate about 13th century history had been invited to come and inhabit the chateau for two days. They set up an encampment as would have been in that period, living and working there as in medieval times.
From demonstrations of calligraphy, repairing chainmail, leather work and woodcarving to ancient medicinal remedies, all very knowledgeably told by these interesting people. A mock battle with real swords and even a lethal looking axe with a ball and chain on it, were superbly and convincingly fought by the Knights Templar.
Dressed in chainmail and padded protective suits, steel helmets and leather gauntlets, shields and heavy swords, this was truly exciting to watch.They attracted an enthusiastic audience too.
Going into the Chateau which is still under permanent reconstruction, father and son are actively restoring it to its former glory. This year another level has been opened up. The second floor where the bedrooms would have been, and new ceilings revealing new wooden beams have been added.
The spiral staircases of honey coloured stone are also beautiful, winding steeply up to the very top of the third floor which is also being restored at the moment.
The troupe calling themselves the Gardiens Des trois Croix, showed us through a series of rooms, explaining how the “coseigneurie” ie a group of Lords and 10 families would live. Each lord owned part of the fortification, and was required to defend his part.
Next year plans are to show how life was living in a garrison in the Middle Ages. One not to be missed!
Lunch at Lissajoux
I have already enthused about this delightful restaurant/bakery in the heart of Sarlat. Any chance we have, my dear friend Margaret, we escape and enjoy a “ladies who lunch”. This time we thought we would try their brunch, which has been highly recommended already by visitors on holiday plus friends of Margaret’s.
We also wanted to see their Roof Top garden. As usual, a warm welcome awaited us, by one of the owners, Jean, who took us up to the first floor of the building, which was originally a bank. Redesigned by the other owner, Nicolas, worked in London working in fashion and in de luxe items, it produced squeals of delight from us. It was like stepping into a film set.
Antique chairs and seductive sofas, Paris Match covers of film stars and famous people and a weaving loom. Yes. I was speechless. A focal point before you stepped out onto the Roof Top restaurant. Small tables and colourful modern style chairs but too hot for us, although, it was beautiful and peaceful with lush plants and bushes galore.
We descended the spiral wooden stairs to enjoy our brunch, consisting of many delights all served with attention to detail. I chose the Paysan, which arrived on a huge wooden platter comprising a lovely vanilla yogurt with fruits, a lightly boiled egg and strips of bread, cheese and ham. We had another bread which, Jean explained was Welsh soda bread, made with cranberries and a jam of ginger and peaches from his own garden. Delicious.
Margaret had a wonderful brunch called Lissajoux that came served on an old fashioned cake stand. An eggs Benedict in a flaky croissant, a coleslaw with a citrus dressing, creamy yogurt with seasonal fruits and a gorgeous looking raspberry gateau. We were served with a complementary glass of sparkling white wine. You can see why we like going? There was another option called Le Perigourdin, stuffed with truffles. Maybe another time. New food every day. What work? But how passionate they are. Merci beaucoup.
I was complemented on my hat recently, one I have been wearing for years in the summer. Apparently this type of hat, called le Bob, is ultra fashionable now. I have even kept a little one I wore as a child.
I wondered why they were called this? I believe it came from the time of the Second World War, and the US soldiers going to the Front and the French called the hats Les Roberts, shortened to Les Bobs.
It was featured by the Tour de France this year, in their publicity material and sponsors.
I read an article in the newspaper that said: “If at 50, you don’t have this hat, is it that you have wasted your life?” Think about that.
Fifi’s stories from rural France. July 2022.
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