Monday, 27 August 2012
The original castle (1280) was demolished in 1606 to make way for this marvellous chateau. The du Blé family were rather low ranking nobility, but they had loads of money and they wanted to create a impressive chateau to make up for what they lacked in class. Getting in with the royal family secured the future of the chateau and their nobility for many years.
Eventually though, they ran into hard times and they demolished one wing of the chateau and sold it off as stone (hence only two of the original three wings remain) and when the roof of the central wing burned down, they could not afford to repair it with the original slate, so it has a rather humble local tiles on the roof.
One wing is open to the public, showing the rooms as they were created including furniture. This is the only chateau I have visited that has sufficient furniture to actually live in. One of the rooms, which was redone during the 1900s and appears to be used today, has photos in frames and books on the tables making it easy to see how the room is part of a home.
After the one hour’s guided tour of the chateau, we wandered around the gardens and had a real feeling of being tourists in our own back yard. This won’t be the last time we will use our membership cards, that’s for sure.
La Tuilerie Website
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
We have goats’ cheese from La Truffiere in Lys (just down the road), we have jambon parsillée from the butcher in St Gengoux, Gougères from one baker and delicious ham/cheese/olive bread from the other baker in St Gengoux, Scottish salmon smoked in St Gengoux, spices and amazingly flavoured jams from Joncy, wine from a number of producers here in the area and fruit juices from Parfum de Terroir in Taizé, a cooperative of fruit growers.
We have been blessed with good weather for all our Sundays so far and the last one will be this weekend, so fingers crossed. The initiative has been very popular with the tourists and volunteers alike and it has given us all the chance to taste some very good food. Whilst I will be sad to stop, it will be a relief not to have to get up so early to cut up the ham and cheese !
I have managed to find a recipe for jambon persillée which is well worth a try.
1 large onion, stuck with 3-4 cloves
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1.5 litres dry white wine
large bunch fresh parsley, chopped very finely
1 packet gelatine
50ml white wine vinegar
Soak the ham in cold water over night.
The next day, change the water, then bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Discard the cooking water.
Run the ham under cold water, then put it back in the pan and add the onion, garlic, a few sprigs of tarragon & thyme, peppercorns and wine. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2½ hours covered.
Take the ham out of the pan, but keep the cooking liquid. Remove the skin and excess fat from the ham, then using two forks, break the meat away from the bones. Gently crush the meat with the forks.
Cover the sides and bottom of a loaf tin with cling film, then pack a third of the meat in quite tightly. Use half the parsley to make a generous layer on the meat. Pack in another third of the meat and then the rest of the parsley. Finally pack in the last layer of meat.
Strain the cooking liquid through cheese cloth or an old tea towel at least twice, but in any case until the liquid is clear, as this will be used to make jelly. Reheat the liquid if it has gone cold.
Soak the gelatine in a little white wine, according to the instructions on the packet. Whisk the softened gelatine into the clarified cooking liquid, while it is still hot. Add the wine vinegar. Pour this liquid over the ham.
Chill in the fridge until set, then turn out on to a plate and serve in slices.
A meal fit for a Burgundian duke or duchess.
La Tuilerie Website
Sunday, 12 August 2012
Our neighbours (I use that term loosely, as our nearest neighbours are one kilometre away) had invited us to the church service and a “vin d’honneur” for their daughter's wedding. Only one hitch, the wedding was at 15.30 and we had gîte guests arriving. The Dutch are not a problem as they arrive late, but we had French guests too, so I crossed all my fingers and toes and waited. The French gîte guests turned up early 14.20 to be exact and after showing them around, I rushed around to get dressed and we were soon on our way into Cormatin. Not a parking place to be found, but we squeezed our car into a gap and were at the church on time.
The groom and his mother, then the bride’s mother and the groom’s father came down the aisle followed by the bride and her father and doesn’t she look just lovely ! A nice traditional wedding march was used, Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and the service was on a roll. I was surprised at how many people talked through a lot of the processional and it was a good job the priest had a microphone or we wouldn’t have heard the opening words at all.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and in the presence of these witnesses to join this man and this woman …. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace.” And after the traditional pause “Who is here to give this woman to be married to this man?”
Partly I suppose because the young couple were in fact already married, they had just come from the town hall which is the only place you can actually get married in France, but I really had the feeling that the priest actually had an enormous amount of freedom to say what he wanted, even the vows were significantly briefer than an Anglican wedding, but the biggest difference, I have noticed before (when hanging around outside churches to see the bride) the guests leave before the couple, which I find most peculiar. At the end of the service we all kind of sauntered out of the church and when we had all gone, the couple finally came out to very loud applause, throwing of lavender and blowing of bubbles. Sadly being too far back, the photos of this were not very effective which is a pity as it was a lovely sight. There was also an interesting twist to the traditional recessional music, they chose Bob Marley’s “One Love” followed by “Is This Love”, very nice walking music though.
La Tuilerie Website
Monday, 6 August 2012
I have mentioned before that Paray-le-Monial is a pilgrimage destination and hundreds of thousands of people visit it every year. I knew that Marguerite-Marie Alacoque had had “visions”, but really how significant she was or why so many people come to visit, I had no idea.
Not being a Catholic I am not too au-fait with saints, I know all Anglican churches have saints’ names but I always considered who they were and what they did, as being totally irrelevant. In France you cannot escape the massive influence saints have on the population, for many of whom their worship borders on idolatry. The Sacred Heart is another Catholic invention that I have never understood, other than the fact that you see a picture of Jesus with his heart hanging out in Catholic houses and I must admit I find the pictures a bit ghoulish.
Well it turns out that our Sainte Marguerite-Marie was in fact very big in popularising the Sacred Heart. She was the first person to make an image of it and to pass on messages from Jesus about sharing the heart with the world. I also discovered that the Sacred Heart is not actually a body part at all, it is an image or a symbol of God’s love for us.
La Tuilerie Website