Sunday, September 2, 2012

Provence A-Z Part Quatre

I'm back with installment 4 of Provence A-Z.  Thank you for the inspiration, M. Mayle.
We've made it to the B's.

Bambouseraie d'Anduze / Prafrance
Not a great way to begin, but I've never been here nor have I really seen too much bamboo growing in southern France or anywhere in France for that matter.  Seems a fellow spent all his money growing a forest of bamboo about 30 miles from Nîmes.  The website says it is the most visited garden in France (tied with Villandry in the Loire Valley) and the most visited site in the Gard.  More than the Pont du Gard?  Vraiment?  I suppose I would be more interested in this one if there was a really good Provençale dish made with it.  Désolée.
It is on the edge of the Cévennes, though, and I have been there.  No bamboo that I saw.  I love it there.  It reminded me of the Appalachian Mountains when we went there to visit Richard and Nadine.

These are the terraced gardens that have been built in Provence out of necessity due to the lay of the land.  It can be tough to grow things when there is very little rain for several months, the Mistral blows for days at a time, there are a lot of rocks and slopes, and not always much topsoil.  So, farmers have had to be very creative in order to grow their olives, vines, and fruit trees.
This photo is about the best I can do since I don't get a chance to stomp around in people's gardens too often.  I did get to walk through a sort of living museum of the garrigue near the Pont du Gard.  It has examples of native plants.  I hope to go back one day soon.  And if invited, I will gladly explore gardens, back yards, slopes, vineyards, most anything actually.

Now, we are getting into my sacred love of chèvre, goat cheese.  According to legend, Roman Emperor Antonius Pius (A.D. 86-161) loved it more than me.  He ate so much of it that terminal indigestion did him in.

True Banon has to be covered in chestnut leaves and tied up with rafia-- kind of a little gift-wrapping.  The lovely little cheese has to be a very specific size (it has had its AOC since 2003), just enough to share with a friend if you are feeling generous.  Buy some at the market (I got mine in Arles), a loaf of bread, and a nice red Côtes du Rhône and have a pique-nique.  Bon appétit!

I have a hard time with all the names for houses... maison, mas, bastide, château, and so forth. Evidently, a bastide is just a notch or two below a château.  I think that I will consider Mme P's lovely home a bastide.

Can you read the date?  It's written above the entry door.
Was it a farmhouse back in the day?  Yes.  Are the rooms spacious?  Check.

Is the façade regular?  Oui.

She has a garden.  Check-- but she is the gardener.

No pond or carp.  But she has a pool with a crazy Frenchie and an American in it.

I think that counts, don't you?
A statue?  Some lovely chickens.  Or are they roosters?  Je ne sais pas.

If I could, I would give her this statue.  She is an angel to me.  I always feel right at home there.

Mme P has something that I bet not many bastides have... a well in her living room.  She and her husband preserved it as they were rebuilding their house and made it into a work of art.  It's behind glass.  How cool would it be to have this in your living?

Did you know that bauxite is named for Les Baux?  Oui.  It is a charming little spot, well-loved by tourists.  Interested in its history?  Click here.

Bauxite, used to make aluminum, was discovered here in 1821.  The quarries were left behind and later made into a sort of art museum.
They go from this

to this.

It used to be known as the Cathedral of Images.  Paintings are projected throughout the quarry, on the walls, the ceiling, and the floor.  The show is set to music and for about 30 minutes you feel as if you are inside a series of paintings.
This is the first one I saw there.
Van Gogh's work from Provence and Auvers-sur-Oise.  A religious experience for me.
It then closed and has now reopened as Les Carrières de Lumière.  Quarries of Light.  In July, we saw Van Gogh and Gauguin.

This is the name of a lovely wine.  Not really white, but golden.  This little bottle is from 2001 and is awaiting the foie gras that the BFF brought home.

It has nothing to do with Venice and canals, however.

I have now managed to daydream away a whole afternoon searching for photos for this post.  I suppose I should make dinner for the Ex-Ex and plan lessons for next week.  Real life calls.  Stay tuned for more installments!

Bon appétit à tous les amoureux de la Provence!

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