It appears that amongst Brits at least, the Charente is the favourite region to live in France. In a poll conducted by Boredeaux University, the Charente beat Aquitaine, Languedoc-Rousillon and Brittany as the preferred area to buy property, with many people opting for it as their main home.
Of the many reasons why the Charente is such a popular place, environmental factors came out on top. This got me thinking andI can definitely understand why this area is such a haven. I thought about all of the people who have come to visit us here and I couldn’t think of anyone who didn’t fall in love with the place instantly.
It may have been the cheap wine, it may have been the holiday feeling, heck it may even have been our hospitality (yeahright!) but it’s more likely that there is such a sense of calm and so much natural beauty that it’s almost impossible not to feel relaxed when you’re out here. I suppose there’s always the possibility that the government has been drugging the water for the past thirty years, but I’d much rather think it has more to do with the ceaseless countryside and relentless tranquility.
When I first got here, the money ran out VERY quickly. But it was quite difficult to feel anxious, angry or depressed about it because all I had to do was step outside into the sunshine and take a look at the scenery. There is so much beauty out there- you can’t get away from it! Even though Christmas wasn’t that long ago, there is already the promise of spring in the air, with the first buds appearing on the trees. In the summer there are fields of sunflowers and poppies, that seem to go on forever. Autumn heralds some of the most vibrant colours I have ever seen and though the winters are cold, the skies are clear and the temperatures are pleasant.
And that’s before you’ve sampled the delicious food the country is so famous for!
The people are among the friendliest on the planet, I felt totally at home amongst a gaggle of French ladies who stopped to talk to me. I asked to speak to an English speaking neighbour and within a few minutes, I had a very friendly elderly lady who answered the door! I found myself going home with her in tow and couldn’t decide which local food to savour. She told me about the time she ate chicken cooked for her grandmother for her birthday, it had been a traditional chicken dinner!
I don’t like chicken, but I do like duck. In fact, duck is now cooked in the British tradition, but is also eaten all over the world. My friend told me she’d had it for lunch one day whilst she was on holiday in Florida. She was very concerned about the amount of sauce she was served. The sauce had a very strong chicken stock flavour to it, which she thought made it too spicy. She said she would never go back to eating chicken again, but she liked it enough to go back for seconds. I ate mine, thank you very much!
We went to a popular tourist hotel restaurant, and plates of legs of duck were on the menu. We declined to order, so the ladies brought us their own. We were offered a bowl of rice with chicken or pork and potatoes baked in clay, which we ate with lots of lemon. What a nice hosts they were, arranging us gently with their beautiful smile.
After lunch, we were taken on a tour of the town. The Mystic shot is beautifully framed on the side of a mountain, overlooking a tiny street called l’Amerique. The town has gone back in time, with foyers and arches, museums and a Buddhist temple. We also visited azzurro, where we were shown the technique of making wine in a clay pot. Apparently the water was mixed with crushed corn in order to avoid stomach problems.
From there we moved on to our next destination: the lakeside town of Montigny. We walked along the impressive grounds, stopping time and taking in the charms of the grounds. There were a variety of strange flowers growing, and 80 year old vines. Apparently they were all from France. The owner painted the walls of the wine cellar in Everett to protect it from insects by asbestos classes, and she made a remarkable series of cross-ties, using watercolours, gouache and Pastis. She was just getting started when she noticed two squirrels crossing the road about ten yards in front of her. She went over and petted one of them, and then another. They were so cute! We Lyon people are pretty funny creatures, I would have traded places with her had I been in a better mood.