“The Envy Of The Whole World”.

This is how President Emmanuel Macron described the French baguette earlier this year when he backed calls to have it listed as a UNESCO cultural treasure.

Intrigued and delighted by this, I just had to find out more information about the baguette, why that shape, how did it become so popular in every corner of France, in short what is the history of the tradition French Baguette.

Delicious.

 

Starting around the 14th and 15th century people had to use a Communal oven to bake their bread, which was mostly round in shape. However, even though they were called Communal they did not belong to the Community. The oven was the property of the local Lord or the Church who would charge the surfs for baking their bread. Following the French Revolution, the ovens became the property of the village; no more fees.

 

Once a week the oven was fired up and the locals would carry the dough they had prepared at home to the oven. Each family would mark the top of the bread with a distinctive cut to distinguish their bread from the other families.

 

The ash created during the baking was collected, mixed with water and used for the laundry.

Baguette’s really took off in the 1920’s after a new law prevented workers starting work before 4am. In older to get the bread baked in time for breakfast, bakers started to make long, thin ‘wand”s of bread. Although the dough at that time was still made at home and then taken to the Boulangerie to bake.

 

Bread oven’s can be seen all over France in the Boulangerie, or in the centre of the village, in the grounds of a property or in the property itself.

So if you are looking for a new home …

 
 

Event:-Le château de Castlenaud celebrates the European Heritage Weekend on the 15th and 16th September with a Medieval Fencing Tournament.
 
 

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Le Château De Monbazillac.

Part One

This Château and vineyard is one of our favourite places to visit. So it was a real pleasure to show our friend around while she was here on holiday a few weeks ago.

Listed as an historical monument it dates back to the 16th Century where it was built in the Renaissance style. Set in a woodland with magnificent vistas across the valley. 3500 hectares of vines produce in my view pure nectar, sweet and dessert white wines. Which of course can be sampled in the wine shop before… and perhaps after… your visit to Le Château De Monbazillac.

Michelle and I all ready for the visit.
 

The architecture is a mix of traditional and defence style, towers, parapet walk, battlements, moat, cannon and the start of Renaissance art in the form of wide windows, mullion windows, fixed bridge, grand interior staircase and of course the layout of the rooms.
 

The Château and its vines have been the property of Monbazillac Cooperative Winery since 1960. Before that the château was handed down from mother to child (or nephew) and has been sold six times since the 16th Century.
 

Coat of Arms Tower is represented by the successive owners of the Château. From the family that initially bequeathed the land for the construction of the Château to the last lords of the viscountcy.
 

The Grand Salon. The Renaissance fireplace was decorated in 1929 with heraldic sculptures.
 

A Harry Potter moment! In other words the bottle room. 7,000 bottles of Monbazillac from the 2002 and 2004 vintages are presented on the walls giving the walls a gorgeous golden glow. The display case shows the changes of bottle shape over the years.
 

The Dutch brand display case contains vintages of Monbazillac wine. The map by Belleyme (who surveyed the region from 1761 to 1774).
The spelling of the name was how my ancestors spelled their surname, an ancestral relative perhaps?. The Belleyme’s originated from Northern France, and owned the area now known as Belléme. A future blog I think.
 

Part Two blog will cover a fascinating person called Jean-Sully Mounet.
 
 

New Gems for Sarlat.

I never get tied of taking a picture of the stunning architecture around Sarlat Medieval Quarter and this sunny morning was no exception. The square was beginning to come alive for the tourist season with huge parasols welcoming people to sit down, have a rest, drink coffee or delicious hot chocolate and take in the sights.

Medieval Quarter.
 

A sculptor has opened a shop to show his art so take a walk inside and look at the many exhibits, they are very good so you may be tempted to buy a few.
 

This shop is full of witches, trolls, dragons and of course ducks!
 

If you like olives this is the place. Yummy.
 

All the artisan cheese you could ever wish for, plus a good selection of wine. They even have truffle cheese which you can taste before you buy.
 

Walk down any street in old Sarlat and you will find interesting buildings dating back to ancient times. On the monumental portal, an inscription in Latin signifying: “May God watch you enter and exit”. (Psalm)
 

A new leather goods store selling all hand made items. I particularly like the handbags.
 
 

Events:

Put on your dancing shoes for this event in Sarlat.
 

Also, do you own a Château?

Do you own and run your own French Château? Or are you planning to buy one with renovation in mind? Kindling Media would like to talk to British Château owners about a potential series of Escape to the Château DIY, with Dick and Angel Stawbridge. Which will be filmed and shown on British television.
If you are interested please email info@kindlingmedia.tv with your contact details and write a few lines about your story.
 
 

Rocamadour Part One

Voted “the most favourite village in France 2016” it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built dramatically into an overhanging cliff high above the gorge of the Alzou in the Lot Department. It owes its fame and fortune to the late 11th Century cult of the Black Madonna, whose shrine was promoted by the Benedictines at Tulle and who built an hospital next to Rocamadour for the passing pilgrims.

In 1166 a man’s body was found near to the alter. This the Benedictines announced was St Zaccheous, who was the publican who climbed the tree to see Jesus. After the crucifixion he fled with his wife and settled in Limoges. When his wife died he went to live as an hermit and built the first sanctuary in the cliff face. The local people called him”the lover”, or Amator for his devotion, hence Roc-Amadour, the rock of the lover or lover of rock.

The pilgrim road enters Rocamadour by way of the 13thC Porte du Figuier, which is one of four gates that defended the villages.
 

Once through the gate you walk past the various shops and souvenir stands. Selling everything from postcards, ornaments, gorgeous linen tablecloths to ice cream and cakes.
 

To get to the Basilique St-Sauveur you will need to climb the 223 steps or use the lift. In the days of pardon, pilgrims and criminals would climb the steps on their knees in order to be forgiven for their sins. They were bound in chains and led to the Black Madonna where they would pray and then the priest would strike of the chains and give them a lead metal with a picture of the Black Madonna to take back to their village as proof of absolution.
 


 

Another attraction is the Durandal, the famous sword of Roland; the legendary paladin of Charlemagne. Just before he died at Roncesvalles, Roland confined his blade to St Michael.

The Archangel hurled the sword from the Pyrenees straight into Rocamadour’s cliff where the sword sits high above supported by a chain.
 

The workmanship is outstanding.
 

A close up of one of the towers.
 

 

Les Montgolfiades-Rocamadour


23rd and 24th September is the Annual two day hot air balloon festival with participants from all over Europe.

 
 

More Hidden Gems of Sarlat

It is always worth wondering around the side streets of any town in the Perigord Noir however, the Medieval Quarter in Sarlat stands out as one of the best, where you can find hidden treasures literally just around every corner. This happened to Paul a few weeks ago when he was passing the time waiting for me while I was at our hairdressers.

If you walk up the main shopping street in Sarlat, pass the chocolatiers, Burton’s Store and the store that sells knifes and guns! You will come to a small cobbled lane on the left that doubles back and rises up to take you around the bend. There, hidden around the bend on the Rue J.J. Rousseau you will find the 17th Century Chapel des Pénitents Blancs with its magnificent portico.
 

17th Century Chapel des Pénitents BlancsChapel of the White Penitents XVIIth century
 

dscn2256The beautiful baroque door is the only ornament of the Chapel of the Récollets (a reformed branch of the Franciscan order) of the White Penitents.

In 1944 the chapel was classified as an historical monument and since 1970, it has housed a museum of sacred art.
 

In the old quarter take the lane which is found on the left of the Cathedral and runs past the Lantern of the Dead.
 

twisty, narrow laneTake the first left at the antique shop and you will find a twisty, narrow lane which in turn leads you into the myriad of Medieval properties which we had never seen before.
 

A beautiful balustradeA beautiful balustrade with artisan jewellery shops on the first level of the property.

Meandering through the narrow cobbled lanes of artisans and art galleries you will come to Rue Fénelon, turn left where you will find cafes, a Thai Restaurant (which we must check out) and antique shops.
 

Tall houseOn the right, tucked in between the shops you will see another interesting 14th C property.
 

Aux Bonheurs De SopheFurther along the same lane towards Rue de la Liberté you will find on the right, ‘Aux Bonheurs De Sophe’. A Millinery shop where I could spend hours browsing and buying almost everything. It sells beautiful materials, cottons, wools and accessories, in fact everything that you need, including silk embroidery threads which I needed for my new hobby.

Past the milliners you will see the Truffle Market on the right and the magnificent Place de la Liberté with its Wednesday and Saturday markets.