Wednesday, September 3, 2014

La Chaise-Dieu

My friends have been taking good care of me. Indeed, people I barely know have been so kind, and so appalled. My good friends have been inviting me over (sorry, really, that I haven't accepted all the invitations, but vegetating on the couch does have something going for it) and the weekends are non-stop.
Sunday before last Mariette was doing a flea market at the edge of the Chaise-Dieu classical music festival. There's a café in the village that does a world-class blueberry tart, and, well, how could I resist that? Used junk, wandering the countryside on a fine day, blueberry tart. Yeah, ok.

The flea market was a dud. Normally the French advertise these things for miles around, and I don't know how Mariette knew it was going on because pretty much nobody else did. The 'organizer' had put up all of two signs directing festival-goers to the site, which was rather on the periphery of the village, not something you'd come across in the natural course of visiting.
Usually you have to set up a flea market stand really early. The French do not do garage sales; they wait for the annual village flea market thingy, and junk dealers & low-end antique dealers go from one to the next peddling their wares, so it can become quite the event. Usually you want to be ready by 8 for the opening flood of customers. Yeah. Here we are at midday, half asleep.

I took a turn around town, saw the sights before the other market packed up for the day.
A dozen or so stands featuring local products and crafts were set up in the main square in front of the Abbey. Most of the central buildings have been nicely restored (my opinion of course, that of my architect host's can be rather different). 
Among the goodies for sale were honey and honey-made stuffs. I adore honey, but somehow only manage to consume a jar every two or three years, so I passed on that. Then there were mushrooms, giant beautiful golden girolles and sturdy portobellos. Having no luck searching for them myself and no further occassion to do so before the end of the season, I broke down and bought some. Delightful. 
There were also wild blueberries. It's a terrible year for wild blueberries, and last year was no better, so I have been out of blueberry jam (my favorite jam!) for quite a long time now. Normally I would never, ever, buy blueberries. They are to be acquired through long hikes and painstaking gathering. But there is not a single one to be had anywhere in the the fields and woods I frequent, so... I picked up three packets of what was labelled 500g. Got home and weighed them to get the sugar right, and was very disappointed to find they were not a little short of 500g, but very short. 400g. After all this time in the country I have still not developed a proper sense of what 500g actually feels like in my hand. But they're good. Yes, I do have a vast excess of jam in my cupboard, but no, you may not have one of the blueberry jars. Except David. He may have one.
The Abbey is quite impressive. Alas, there were two large orange building cranes operating right next to it. Visit the website for a better view. (am I getting snarky? sorry about that. have not been in a good mood lately)
There's a park for the kids.
 Pffff. Bo-ring.
 Aha! Now that's proper park equipment! And nobody's using it!
Hmm, well pull back a bit, and see why. *sigh*
How about a bit of countryside? Cows. Farmhouses. Fields. The usual things. Hardly worth documenting yet again.
Ah! you say But I love cows! Entire albums of bovines! Field with a single, expressive tree! Again, albums-full of countryside!
Alright, alright.
I cannot be depressed enough to not appreciate countryside.
Though I kind of lied about the cows. The only cows were far away (note the shot strategically places a convenient tree branch in front of the crane) (did I have to ruin it for you? would you not have noticed the crane if I didn't point it out? Yes.). 
And yeah, there were shady lanes, and blackberries ripening along the drainage ditches, and flowers blooming.
 But let's end with something grey & spiky.

Oh, yes. I did start out with a mention of blueberry tart. Got distracted there. Picnic lunch, wrapped up the flea market stand early (just one sale, right as we were boxing things up), and finished up the day at Chaise-Dieu with a cup of tea, an excellent slice of blueberry tart, and good company.

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