Ah La Belle France! I’ve had a few days, with three old friends, walking near Jarnac, which in turn is near Cognac (notice the …ac suffix, not sure what that means but there are a lot of acs in that part of France).
It’s very sunny and also wet and every field and slope seems covered in vines whose fruits will be made into to something alcoholic – which for someone who forswore the grape and the grain in 1989 is a bit ‘meah’ but for my companions – well this tells its own story.
Jarnac is on the Charante (River)
and in Charante (the Region).
It was the birth place of François Mitterand – former President and general all round bonker of mistresses – here’s his clock tower which I assume was created because it has so many different faces, much like the man.
If you know Franglais, you’ll know the translation of ‘homme d’affaires’ is not ‘business man’ but ‘a man with many mistresses’ which in turn neatly fits FM.
Everywhere you go there are these beautiful châteaux which must cost a fortune in upkeep alone. But then booze is a booming business and while you might go poor in the ups and downs of most economic cycles you rarely hear of booze or bust, do you? Each one seemed to belong to a Hennessey or a Courvosier or Heinne or Martell or Marnier and from across the river looked magnificent.
Even the factories had charm of their own
But if there’s one feature of France that I always find both odd and disconcerting it’s the ‘f**k off, Joe Public’ mentality that has 20 foot high walls round everything when viewed from a road and shutters keeping out any prying eyes too. Walk along an ordinary street and you’re in a corridor of windowless prison walls. I’m told it’s to keep the courtyards cool or some such but it’s not a place for nosey neighbours or to feel anything other than rather isolated. Perhaps we in England are just hypocrites – we don’t want to be overlooked any more than the French – but while we chunter on about it, and do nothing the French built their walls. I guess, as with so much about France and its beauty, I’m a touch jealous.
Still, the countryside is fabulous, the people are charming if you squeeze out a little of the local lingo and, even more, so if you splash the odd Euro – and the food is pretty good and, mostly, reasonably priced. So yes, we walked many a mile, we ate and they drank well and it was all rather fine.
This is part of Jo’s Monday Walks; find more here.