Feature Article #1

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Thanks for resting your eyeballs here for a moment.(They are resting, right?) If you rest them a little longer, you may learn some interesting,(hopefully)entertaining, and, yes, ocassionally BIZARRE things about FRENCH COUNTRY LIFE (more…)

| January 27th, 2017 | Continued

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French Church History Lesson

 

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French Travel = French Food, French Wine, French Chocolate, French History. And a big – no wait – make that a HUGE part of that History, are the Churches, Cathedrals, and Abbeys that really are “around every corner.”

While the “big names” of French Churchdom are universally known – Notre Dame de Paris, Chartes, etc. the lesser knowns, and they often include French Abbeys in small French Villages, have an equally fascinating story to tell.

One of my favorites of these Historical Treasures of France, is the Basilic de St. Julian in the Haute Loire village of Brouide.

DA BG could prattle on about it’s wonders, but – WHY? when you can immerse yourself in it’s History soaked wonderfulness in these Videos? The first with marvy music throughout. The second, in French. With equally cool ancient sounds.



THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

Peace,Quiet,Cows and Knives

There is a place in France that marches to the beat of a different drummer. A way different drummer. A drummer with only one stick. The French call this place – “La France Profunde.” Deep France. France the way it used to be. In the good ole’ days. (you remember them, don’t you?)

cantal villatge, deep france

No Boutique – No Swingin’ Hot Spot

Deep France is France in the slow lane. No stress. No pressure. No worries. Rural. Bucolic. (not a cow disease, but a ten dollar word for “booty-ful”) It’s a place where the wide open spaces are wider. The air fresher. And freeways are a crazy urban circus you only see on TV.

The location of this magical place where time runs on two speeds – dead slow and stop – is subjective. Because there is more than one region that qualifies. But the name most associated with “La France Profunde” is “The Cantal.”

Geography 101

The Cantal is a region of France within the department of Auvergne. It’s at the bottom left on the map, bounded by the Haute Loire region on the right. While it’s impossible to say which city/town is the “big smoke” in the Cantal, the administrative centre, and most prominent on the map, is Aurillac. (iaurillac.com) That said, the Cantal is “choc-a-block” with medieval villages. Extremely well preserved. And functioning today with very few changes. Other than the obvious “Mod Cons.”

Medieval Beef

This is because the Cantal is quintessentially a rural environment. Way rural. The locals describe it as :” 10,000 people, 100,000 cows.” And so, you will truly find that the hills are alive with the sound of “moo –sick.” The beef the Cantal is famous throughout Europe for, comes from the Salers cow. From the city of the same name. Ok, unless yer in the breeding/selling biz….a cow is a cow is a cow, right? But the medieval village of Salers, is very much more than your standard“can’t believe it’s so old” collection of crumbling ruins. Put it high on your list. (salers.fr and salers-tourism.fr)

cantal cows, deep france

Da BG’s other medieval Cantal recommendations are Laroguebrou(chateau perched on a hill above the gorge du Ceres – info from : chataignerie-cantal.com), and Marcoles. (marcoles.fr)

Who Loves ya Baby?

But wait – There’s more! (three “mores” actually) The first being FOOD! And, as you might expect in a cow filled land, beef figures in the menus big time. The centre of “gastronomy”(fancy eatin’) in the Cantal is the tiny(pop. – 1500) of Laguoile.(Curiously pronounced “la-ge-ol” by the locals, and “la –yol” by the rest of France.) THE place to chow down there is the Hotel/Restaurant Augy. Jean-Pierre and Isabelle Augy(she’s the chef) will take good care o’ you and yer stomach.

A Cheese runs through it

A huge contribution to France gastronomy are the cheeses of the Auvergne. Particularly the Cantal cheese. This is a semi-hard frommage(think consistency of cheddar)coming from the aforementioned Saler’s cows, that’s aged up to 18 months. Here, I promise you, more than any other region, you’ll chow down on an incredible variety of exceptional cheeses. (and the wines not too bad either!)

cantal cheese, deep france

The second more, is, ……a knife. The Laguoile knife.  Internationally renowned for the quality of materials, and workmanship. Virtually ever self-respecting Froggie Male has one on his belt  And, of course, there are steak knives, dinner sets, knives for every occasion, yada,yada,yada. The handmade versions can put a serious dent in yer wallet.(2000 euro plus) Naturally, they’re a “must have” souvenir for touring Texan cattlemen!

 

The third more, is “Le Nature.” The landscape. Miles and miles, of miles and miles.
A paradise for walkers. And, for most o’ the rest, jus’ a paradise. Especially if QUIET is at the top o’ yer paradise list. And, happily, there is an association of country inns that specialize in quiet. They’re :  relaisdusilence.com Locations all over France. And that includes the Cantal.

Cantal canoes, deep france

Enough ta get ya started?

THROW  ME  A  BONE  HERE  PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

Royale French History Lesson

 

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The Royale French  History Lesson goes down every year. All over France.  Usually just for one day.  Sometimes two. And, happily, it’s (mostly) free. While it’s not a holiday in the strict sense of the word, it’s equally, not a day of work.

It’s offical title is : “Le Journee Du Patrimoine.” which, loosely translated(and isn’t that the best way?) is:” The day of History appreciation. ” This is the day  that  private Chateau you’ve always wanted to visit but couldn’t is obliged to open it’s doors to “le grand public.” (if it is classed as one of the Historical Treasures of France.)

And that World class museum, usually too pricey to even consider? – Today – not a problem. (Note:  “attractions” with an entry fee will reduce it, if it’s not eliminated altogether.)

This particular “Journee du Patrimoine” happened to fall on a weekend. So – Historical goodies both days!  Since DA BG happened to be in the Loire, and being especially attracted to French Churches/Abbeys/Cathedrals, et al, the destination was clear. The monstrous Abbey (complex!) of Fontevraud.

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Like every Monstrous Religious edifice in France Le Abbaye Royale du Fontevraud has a history worthy of several Hollywood movies. (“Abbey Wars – The Sequel!” ) It was founded in 1100 as a “double” monastery -ie – Monks and Nuns side by side.  A rarity in any era. A variety of King’s, Queens, and assorted Royalty are also associated with it. Particularly the  English Plantegenet line.

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Eleanor of Acquitane, the Widow of Henry 2 become a nun at Fontevraud. Henry was buried there, along with their son, Richard “The Lionheart” (who spent most of his short  life in France) as well as their daughter Joan, their grandson Raymon VII of Toulouse, and Isabella of Angouleme, wife of Henry and Eleanor’s son King John.

The French Revolution, bringing bad news to almost everyone, didn’t spare Fontevraud. It ordered all monasteries closed.

Eventually, in 1804, the former Abbey became a prison. Reputed to be one of the harshest in France. During World World Two, scores of French Resistance fighters were executed there by the Vichy Government.

After a major restoration, Fontevraud was opened to the public in 1985.

It’s now open to you in THIS VIDEO .(Tip : Best enjoyed(by music lovers) without the robot piano soundtrack)

THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?