Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Montclar or Montclard?

Maison dans Montclar

At 20 past ten last night the local farmer was still whizzing up and down with his tractor. They say they have long lunches in the middle of the day to avoid the heat, and yesterday was so very hot I think they’re sensible to do so.
As you might have guessed, we didn’t go shopping yesterday morning. Instead we cycled east up the valley to St Laurent des Bรขtons, another very pretty little village of 240 inhabitants with a Hotel de Ville, a church, a cemetery and not the slightest hint of a shop. They have a fair way to go for groceries. But then mileage, or should that be kilometreage? is strange here. We passed a signboard for Laurent: 0.1 kilometre. We rode another kikometre in the same direction toward Laurent and found a second signboard that declared it was still 0.1 of a kilometre to Laurent. Not quite a time warp, but certainly a mileage warp.

Montclard, which we visited the day before yesterday, used to reign over ten parishes stretching from St Laurent des Batons in the east to Montagnac la Crempse in the west. Strangely, it never had a church – the hamlet of St Georges, a little further away, has the church, built on the site of a Gallo-Roman religious edifice. There is a footpath leading directly across the hill from Montclard to the church, but it must have been quite a trek of at least a kilometre on a cold winter’s day. Winters here can be surprisingly harsh. The winter of 2011/12 had days when the temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees C, and the bamboo, which a lot of keen gardeners employ as hedging these days, and all soft fruit along the valley, perished. Some of the trees look as if they’ve suffered, too.

There used to be a chapel within the eleventh century castle walls, although recent excavations have yet to find any trace of it. It was called St Macaire’s Chapel. Montclard, which is confusingly spelled Montclar on the signboards and Montclard on the maps, has always been inhabited by lawyers, doctors, tradesmen and shopkeepers and, consequently, the village and its surroundings are notable for their lack of big, old farms. The ground floor of the large houses served as workshop, shop and depot. The baker is still there, and you have to be up early if you want to buy your bread fresh that day. By midday he’ll have shut up and gone home for ze long lunch.

BTW, if anyone knows what a rampeau is, do tell. There's one scheduled at the village fete on 28th. (Yes, I know fete should have those little triange thingies...)

1 comment:

BlackTulip said...

Thanks a lot for that wonderful "tour de France". I've been living in Canada with my hubby for nearly thirteen years now. Was born and raised in Paris France for forty years. I neither miss family nor french people in general but what I do miss is what you're doing now, visiting and feeling the old Europe ... ! Enjoy all you can !!!
Just waiting for the next post ^-^