Fiona Alderman Blogging from Rural France – A Change of Scene
Bonjour! Yes, this month I am taking you away from my village of Salignac Eyvigues, to another one called Domme, an incredible hilltop fortified village steeped in history, which is 30 minutes away by car.
I have been visiting Barry, my dearest partner, in hospital there this last month. Despite the awful circumstances he is at least in a beautiful environment, overlooking the Dordogne Valley, where we used to visit as tourists for many years before we came to live here.
After my visit with him I retraced the years before and reflected on how Domme came to be named as One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. It is easy to see why.
Early as the 8th Century it was a major shipping route between the Auvergne and Aquitaine regions, transporting goods and wines by barges. The Dordogne river flows and winds down through the valley and the view from the top of the craggy cliffs is spectacular.
During the Hundred Years War that the Knight Templars were imprisoned within the garrison walls, where they left mysterious engravings on the stones. Varied interpretations have been made over the years whilst deciphering the codes, symbols and figures and their meanings.
The entrance to the medieval town is by two drum shaped stone towers which rise steeply upwards through pretty yellow coloured stone houses up to the main square. There is also Halle, market place, the fabulous Church and the deep grottos which are 450 metres in depth. I visited the grottos once many years ago. It was cold and eerie, with lighting shining brightly on the stalagmites and stalactites in one of the most developed underground caves in the Perigord Noir.
My visit now was short in terms of sightseeing but I managed to look around the shops, pretty boutiques and art galleries plus a wonderful bookshop housing 50,000 books. Didn’t have time to see it all!
Jean Paul Belmondo
The death of this fine actor was a sad one. At 88 he had had a long career and was noted for doing his own stunts in action films.He was different, even as a young man, the son of a sculptor, with no aptitude for school studies, but loved sports, boxing and from the age of 16 he knew he wanted to become an actor.He went to the Conservatoire National Superieur in Paris where he came to be noticed by Jean Luc Godard, and the New Wave of French Cinematographers such as Francois Truffaut.
Belmondo, or Bebel, as he soon became known, had the freedom to improvise and play characters in his own unique way.
Alain Delon, the other Sacre Monstre of French cinema, was also starting his illustrious career and the two would continue to be friends right up until the end.He was devastated at Bebel’s death and didn’t go to the funeral, preferring to remember him quietly on his own.He did go to the church service later in St Germain in Paris.
Belmondo would star in Italian films alongside beauties such as Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale and meet Ursula Andress, who became his companion. She was seduced by Hollywood, but it was not for him.
He would go on to found his own production/film company and star in numerous films such as Le Magnifique, and which was his own preferred choice.
Nominated for several Cesars, the French equivalent of Oscars, the last as a tribute for his whole career– with his wide mouth and deep smile, he dutifully accepted the praise and recognition.
Sadly, he became ill in the last years, suffering several strokes.He did become a father again though at the age of 70, to the beautiful Stella. The funeral was televised on French tv, a full almost military one, presided over by President Mr Macron, who emotionally called him Mr Magnifique. Adieu. Stella was surrounded by the rest of the family and was noted for her quiet elegance and calm demeanour. Very touching.
I think it is time to finish with brighter things? My little Missy has been officially adopted by me now, and I have the papers to prove it. Tattooed in her ear, in case she is lost, she now has a document proving she is mine . The previous owners too have moved away, so it is all the more fitting. She’s been great companion while Barry has been in hospital, snuggling up to me on the bed and putting a comforting paw on my forehead!
She hasn’t even been going to Mr Menu du Jour lately either? I asked him recently and he says she wasn’t interested in the food he left anymore. However, it was just”ordinary” food, not the blanquette de veau or boeuf bourgignon like before? I wonder why. Not that I am preparing that either. However, she did wait at his door recently, when he was on holiday, as if to say Where are you? She is now sitting on his car, looking beautiful ❤️
Fifi’s Stories from rural France
Salignac Foundation. Short courses in dance and film. Resuming next year
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