In vino veritas

– You can drink the wine, or you can drink the price of it –

* * *

More of our summers in la belle France

when we were young.

 When we were there the poppies were always blooming in Provence.

Having our pastis in France was kind of a ritual for us. Here somewhere overlooking the Dordogne.

 

The Pont du Gard is the very famous ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gard River in southern France. The Romans built this thing in the 1st century AD, and it’s still holding up perfectly. This place is very famous and touristy; the pastis was so ridiculously expensive that we didn’t have one there.

Cirque de Navacelles in the Cévenne region of the southern Massif Central.

 Bread, cheese, and wine, what else do you need?

 Maybe figs. Of course! My all time favorite fruit! I found the very best ones in Iran, but in France all that extraordinary ambiance makes everything special. Once, on my 40th birthday Parvin gave me 40 figs and I was allowed to eat them all in one sitting.

 A sweet, warm summer day somewhere in southern France.

 One of our endless celebrations of place and time P & K – style.

 We spent the night at the fringe of this field. There was the most wonderful aroma in the air that hovered over the entire area; we both had fantastic dreams and bore the enchantment for a long time.

* * *

In those glorious summers in France, like curious children, we explored also the French culinary culture, and one thing France is famous for is her wine. Good wines are expensive, but how good is an expensive wine? We drank them all and loved them all. Over time our taste buds became actually quite sensitive and we learned to detect and appreciate amazing subtleties. But when we finally took the courage to buy a $100-wine, a Pomerol Bordeaux, we could not really tell the difference to a $10-Médoc or any other “good” Bordeaux. Pomerol is a tiny wine-growing region between Libourne and Limeuil. Its wines are considered the Rolls Royce of red wines. (By the way, the 1987 Pomerol was said to be exceptionally good; I read they go for $1.500 and more a bottle today). It’s an illusion; but, what a wonderful illusion! You can sit down and drink the price or you can drink the wine. You are free to choose. You have to pay attention what’s really happening.

In vino veritas (In wine there is truth), already the Romans found this. I think it’s not really the alcohol and its effect of loosening up our neurosis. A wine challenges you to pay attention and acknowledge what it is, to taste it, experience its truth, and – this is the most difficult part – let go. A wine challenges you to acknowledge it and not your story about it. In this way, of course, a wine is not different from a glass of water or tomato juice.

 * * *

There are hundreds of castles along the river Loire, only a part of them are open to the public. There are the very old purely functional fortresses, bare of any luxury or intended aesthetical value, and there are the pearls, the representative living quarters of kings and other superior members of the French high society.

Chateau Chamont on the Loire. A mixture between fortress and Renaissance living-castle.

Chateau Ussé. Imposing, dignified, and playful at the same time.

 Chateau Chenonceau, with a little river running through it: idyllic, light, and ethereal.

And the champion of them all: Chateau Chambord. Huge, extremely fancy, and truly beautiful inside as well as outside. The castle of all castles. Almost a cliché; until you actually walk through its halls and let your breath be taken away.

* * *

The Dordogne Valley is one of the loveliest regions of France. Ideal for canoeing and bicycling.

High above the Dourbie river.

These geese are held to produce Foie gras (French for “fat liver”), a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage (force-feeding) corn. Something like this surely represents the finesse of French culinary culture.  In the background: La Cave overlooking the Dordogne.

On the river Dourbie in southern France. We are trying the same here at home: to let grape vines cover our house.

The Lubéron in Provence is another most beautiful area in southern France. Bonnieux in the distance is one of the many enchanted medieval villages there.

A village on the river Tarn.

Crestet, in the department Vaucluse, is just one example of an old, romantic, picturesque village. There are so many, the entire area has this atmosphere.

The greater area of Provence has become a choice living place for celebrities from all over the world. Movie stars, writers, politicians, even ex-dictators of not so far away countries have made their home there. They try to embellish themselves with the natural beauty of this land; however, it is interesting how the mystique of fame and splendor sometimes withers in this ambience. People come and go, the land remains.

Cantobre in the heart of the Cévennes. Of course, it is laughable to imagine what modern building codes would say to this. But doesn’t this demonstrate how we have castrated ourselves? It’s not safe, but it’s beautiful! You have to pay attention when you walk these stairs; but we should pay attention all the time and not kid ourselves with so-called security that is not only just an illusion but can take the essence of life away, which is unsafe, uncertain, not-lasting but full of wonder.

 

Cantobre, a tiny, old, picturesque village in the heart of the Cévennes.

* * *

Vaison la Romaine

 Castles blending into the nature of landscape. You don’t see architecture like this anymore.

Castles everywhere in France. Once we wined and dined in this one to celebrate our 14th anniversary. (Now – it’s hard to believe – we will soon have our 40th)

 Château de Belcayre on the Vézère River. The atmosphere on this veranda is hard to surpass.

Rocamadour, not far from the Dordogne.

Close to the border to Spain in the Pyrénées.

Now, is that an exposed road? Lascun.

St. Antonie, in the Pyrénées.

* * *

                                                Klaus  October 1. 2011

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4 Responses to In vino veritas

  1. Selma says:

    The castles are fantastique. WOW. But my absolute favourite photo is the first one with the poppies. There is such joy in it. Just beautiful!

  2. simon7banks says:

    Klaus: I came to this after you commented on my poem “Stone Steps” (http://www.simonsworlds13.wordpress.com) by means of a link to a photo you took of stone steps in France.

    It looks like you both enjoyed the good life to the full! Bread, wine, cheese, sun…

    I wanted to comment on your thoughts about the Normandy beaches and Verdun. Yes, I think we need to remind ourselves of such places and things. Last year I was in Poland and I made a point of visiting Auschwitz. It made a big impression though I already knew how evil could rule. I feel I should also visit the Normandy beaches and the First World War front in Flanders, as I’ve read plenty about both and they are part of the history I am part of.

    That gun at Omaha Beach: there are interviews with German soldiers in the position you describe. One described wiping out the human cargo of a landing vessel that beached right in front of their gun. He was horrified. He was perfectly aware of the human suffering. But he had been trained to do what he was doing, he was a soldier under orders, the guys he was killing would kill him if they got to the emplacement; he just prayed for it to end, not for one outcome or the other.

    Simon

  3. Donna Harris says:

    Wonderful photos and beautiful to behold. Every photo has a story. I can hear your laughter, savor the wine, feel the breeze and stand in awe of the castles and grandness of the rich terrain. Thanks for stopping by my little blog place too. Hope to see more of your travels and read more of your thoughts.
    Donna

  4. Any more..we are hungry for more…what about your adventures in my country…Australia??

    Love patandbin

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