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Aveyron, passion…

20 Sep

We thought that after leaving Périgord, we had seen it all.

So we drove further East and entered the neighbouring region with this kind of “looking down” attitude. You know? this attitude of “you little village are SO boring, we have seen ones that were MUCH more cute while we were in Périgord”…

But indeed we had to surrender to the beauty of Aveyron and to the passionate attitude of its people. And on the first evening we spent there, in a bedroom set in the dungeon of a house from the 16th Century, we could only repeat all the time those same words: “I want to stay here longer, longer, longer…”.

People who had left the stressful life of Paris for a better life in Aveyron welcomed us in their 16th Century mansion. The homemade marmelades were delicious, but were only one of the marvels on the beautifully set breakfast table. Cake, Caribbean-style rice, platter of different cheeses, some 10 different kinds of tea from Marriage frères…. Here was the love of welcoming people and of making them feel just happy. Our room was Louix XV style, the little window just below the roof.

They introduced us to Monsieur Durand. Monsieur Durand is already in pension, but is very active. He is fighting with all his energy for the survival of an 11th Century church in the village.

And at the end of the visit, and if you ask him, only if you ask him, he will tell you about the secret of the church.

Because, you see, this church is special. It has energetic properties and healers come from far away to benefit from its positive magnetism. On that morning, some tourists were testing it with two copper pieces. And it worked…

A few kilometers further, the village of Conques had been an important rest area on the way to Sain-Jacques-de-Compostelle. Monks had established a holy place in the 9th Century.

The tiny villages around were pure beauty, and so we decided to stay. And enjoy the warm hospitality of the Aveyron people. And listen to the stories of the life-long projects they were fighting for.

PS: we have left France and are on our way to… Denmark again. Only for a few days. Next week we will change to another continent.

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Secrets of the Périgord

12 Sep

There are places that are full of secrets.

Some are so mysterious, that you feel you have arrived to another world. Or maybe another century.

“You will see, every time I travel through the Périgord, I have the feeling that a black knight on his horse will suddenly cross my way on one of the thin, curvy roads”, he had told her many times. And now she was there with him, and they marvelled like small children.

It was an adventure that took place in the Middle-Age. The whole region had more or less remained like in the Middle-Age. There were 500 very small villages, 1000 Middle-Age castles and even more churches, mostly romanic. Many of these were now half ruins, other had been adopted and brought to life again by loving families who came from far away.

Each of these had a story, mostly forgotten… And the travellers were wondering. Who had been the owner of this castle? Which destiny did that family have? Did the men maybe participate to the Crusades? Had they been experiencing with alchemy in the dark caves? When was it abandoned? And especially… Why was it abandoned?

The forests were dark, the fields of a deep green, and at every curve of the tiny road there was an old castle or a mysterious, silent village to discover.

At night, they would sleep in farms, dine at large wooden tables in front of the fireplace and meet other travellers that had also been hunting mysteries all day long.

But the best-kept secrets of the Périgord, were about pleasure. And this was the pleasure of eating, of good cooking, of dishes elaborated over hundreds of centuries. Those were the best-kept secrets in the farms of the Périgord Noir. And she was lucky enough to meet a woman in a farm* that transmitted two or three of these secrets to her….

PS: the recipes are available on the Moving Cookbook.

* La Ferme de Potofayol

A little story about where life can take you

8 Sep

“Sometimes life is deciding for you”, said Nicolas while smoking his cigarette at the balcony.

Our first stop over in France was with Nicolas in Angers. Thomas and Nicolas met 28 years ago in a school exchange (Pornic – Bremen). They stayed in contact since then and Nicolas’ home is one of Thomas’ favoured stop overs in France.

At breakfast, Nicolas told us the story of his grandfather. We were both hooked and found ourselves asking thousands of questions and watching 100-years-old pictures.

At the beginning of the XXth Century, Nicolas’ grandfather was at the officer’s school in the army of the Tsar. He came from Kiev (today Ukraine). After the communists took over, he was forced to escape, like hundreds of thousands of Russians. He embarked on a ship via the Black Sea and Greece to Marseille. Being from academic and aristocratic background, he must have felt quite lost once stranded in beginning-of-the-century’s France, without any money. He worked in factories to make a living.

He originally wanted to migrate to the US. His journey brought him via Paris to Nantes (west of France, the entrance gate to Brittany) where he bought a camera. Owning a camera at that time made him a professional photographer. He settled in the small Brittany harbour town of Pornic (where Thomas learned his French). He founded a family with a 100% local woman, who is 94 years old today. He never left the city again and today the shop, situated right at the harbour, is run by his grandson, Nicolas’ brother.

Already 100 years ago, the world was smaller than we may think. We imagined how this man could have felt, having to leave his country forever, and arriving in a new country without money, being unable to speak the language. It also feels special that the business he started many years ago is today still living on with his grandson, all along the changes from black-and-white pictures to coloured pictures to digital photography.

Arrivés en France…

7 Sep

We are on Île de Ré 🙂