A Medieval Feast

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In this part of France, the Midi-Quercy, the medieval lives on and is only a stone’s throw from any door.  At Cordes-sur-Ciel, a wax museum brings the daily routines of 1439 back to lifelike clarity.

We’ve been taking the occasion of a visit from our Dutch friends Bert and Katherine to spread ourselves out over the countryside, seeing as much as possible and playing all day long.  On this day

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Bert and Shel got on the BMW and took off for an all-day boys-only moto-madness tour of the countryside

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while Katherine and I took the car and meandered much more sedately up to Cordes-sur-Ciel.  Known for it’s super-saturation of tourists, we found it calm and nearly empty on a weekday in September.  Also renowned as a shopper’s paradise, we managed not to buy anything more than a post card, although we were both sorely tempted by the gorgeous garments hand made by Lisa Minard, some of the most creative and beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen.  If you’re going to Cordes, bring your checkbook and plan to be bowled over by her little shop.

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And speaking of feminine beauty, the wax museum offers plenty, placing a special emphasis on the role of women in the middle class of the middle ages, namely to ensure the future of the family by producing as many children as was humanly possible

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and to keep them fed and clothed.

Cordes has another interesting museum, where everything on display is made entirely of sugar.  I went in expecting to see a lot of candy and pastry decorations, but instead

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we founds dozens of glass-encased sugar sculptures ranging from representations of the practical

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to the thematic

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to the purely fantastical.  Each case was brightly lit, to make the sugar sparkle and shine, and thus very hard to photograph, but you get the idea.  Dream up something, anything at all, and make it completely out of sugar, just because you can.

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All in all, Cordes is a lovely little town, perched high above the surrounding fields and farms, all cobbled streets, ancient stone houses

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and gorgeous views, like this one from our lunch table where we refreshed ourselves with salade de gésiers et confit de canard and some excellent rosé from nearby Gaillac.  That salad is a signature dish around here, crisp greens topped with warm slices of confit of duck gizzards and bits of duck meat, and I’ve been having it at every opportunity.

I wouldn’t want to live there, as it’s one of the steepest towns I’ve ever seen, where you huff and puff your way up, slip and slide your way down, and it’s reportedly quite dead in the winter.  but I have to admit that

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sweet houses like this one, with the typically beautiful brickwork of the Languedoc

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and this beautifully enclosed garden, once part of a convent, are captivating.  I’m planning to go back soon, ostensibly to show it to Shel, but I’ll be sure to get him to bring his checkbook.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

3 Comments on “A Medieval Feast”

  1. zuleme Says:

    After our trip to the Luberon and a drive up to St. Nazaire, I am interested in learning more about the geography of France and keeping notes on where these lovely places are. Even though the Luberon is really touristy, it is lovely and the little hill towns are beautiful places to explore. We took the TGV down and drove up.
    I hope I get a chance to go back. But I miss my cats whenever I go away. Ramona greeted me with loud cries and has been coming around for a hug every half hour. Harper slept in my arms half the night. So they miss us, even with a full time kitty sitter.
    Are your felines with you?

  2. Abra Bennett Says:

    The Luberon is really pretty, and so is where we are, the Tarn et Garonne, in a very different way.

    Beppo and Zazou have rejoined the family and it’s clear that Beppo is really happy to be with us again. Zazou seems mainly glad to be out of jail, and is acting very wild right now. It remains to be seen whether she’ll settle down into domesticity again.

  3. zuleme Says:

    HI Abra,
    I hope Zazou settles down! Our felines have a huge fenced in area so they are out being wild all day. It’s at least an acre and they can go to our studio where my husband’s parents live and visit there.
    I’ll look at the map of France and figure out where the Tarn et Garonne is.

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